It used to be widely held by people with a little learning that to say " under the circumstances " must be wrong because what is around us cannot be over us. " In the circumstances " was the only correct expression. This argument is characterised by Fowler as puerile. Its major premiss is not true (" a threatening sky is a circumstance no less than a threatening bulldog ") and even if it were true it would be irrelevant, because, as cannot be too often repeated, English idiom has a contempt for logic. There is good authority for under the circumstances, and if some of us prefer in the circumstances (as I do), that is a matter of taste, not of rule.

« Grammar » « Guide » « ABC of Plain Words » « Use Of English » « Library » « Home »