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Hi,

I'd like to ask about the two words 'deputy' and 'vice'. People say 'vice-president' but 'Deputy Secretary of State'. What about 'chairman'? Should we say 'vice-chairman' or 'deputy chairman'? And how do we know when to use which word?

Many thanks,

Nessie.
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Hi,

I'd like to ask about the two words 'deputy' and 'vice'. People say 'vice-president' but 'Deputy Secretary of State'. What about 'chairman'? Should we say 'vice-chairman' or 'deputy chairman'? And how do we know when to use which word?

Often, there's no real difference. Much of the usage tends simply to be idiomatic. However, here are a few comments.

vice- stresses 'next in rank or authority to' another person.

Tends to be used for people with high authority.

eg vice-president, viceroy, vice admiral

These people are one step away from the top.

deputy- stresses 'delegated or appointed to act for another person'.

Used more than 'vice' in business. May be for people with lower authority.

eg deputy manager, deputy sheriff

'Vice-chairman' sounds a little more important and a bit more permanent to me than 'deputy chairman'.

Note that the word 'chair' tends to be used more often today than 'chairman', because 'chair' can be used for both genders.

Best wishes, Clive