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You're probably using the word ‘revert' incorrectly

There is no such noun as ‘a revert'. I'm looking at you, advertising agencies, communicators, PRs, strategists, and those working in media. There is also no such verb phrase, in the context of replying to someone, as ‘revert back'.
Yes, I’m sure.

‘Revert’ is not a synonym for ‘get back to’. It’s also not another word for ‘set of changes’. So when you type, “I’ll check with client and revert.” or “How many reverts does this quote include?” you’re bastardising an innocent verb.

To clarify, if something ‘reverts’, it is undone, changed to the way it was before, or (in software) rolled back. It goes back to a previous state, condition or practice: “He reverted to his native language.” Note: There is already a ‘back’ implied there, so ‘revert back’ is like saying ‘chai tea’ (i.e. redundant).

And yet… The widespread mis-use of this verb for nefarious purposes infuriates me more than those who use ‘loose’ when they mean ‘lose’.


So many people use ‘revert’ incorrectly that those, like me, who have sleepless nights about misplaced apostrophes, are marginalised. We become ‘grammar Nazis’, consigned to the realm of puritanical spelling-correcters.

The problem is that languages change with use and it’s not the fittest of the language that survives. In this respect, evolution does not always mean progress, so I believe that, eventually, the incorrect use of ‘revert’ will become standard (like ‘literally’), unless we change how we use it now.

So, please, for the continued peace of my editorial soul and, more importantly, for the future of the English language, I beg you: Use ‘revert’ properly.

About Tiffany Markman

Tiffany Markman is a highly opinionated copywriter, copy editor and writing trainer who has worked for over 300 clients worldwide. She hates misplaced apostrophes, old-fashioned business writing and the word ‘revert'. She loves generous paragraphing, art, skulls and black coffee. Read more at TiffanyMarkman.co.za, email , follow @tiffanymarkman on Twitter and sign up for her newsletter.
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