Sep 09

Usage note: Line of succession

I saw a blog comment today that referred to the Speaker of the House of Representatives as “third in line” for the presidency. No, the Speaker is second in line. The Vice President is first. The President is not “in line” at all. He is already President. You can’t be “in line” for an office you currently occupy.

I don’t know why so many people get this wrong. Even Babylon 5 made the same mistake, misstating the line of succession for Emperor of the Centauri Republic.

As a professional writer and editor, I have a lot of gripes about English usage. I may as well vent about them here. I thought of categorizing them under Gripes, but I decided to give them their own category.