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'Home Versus Away' or 'Away Versus Home'?

By
Mignon Fogarty,

home versus away or away versus home?

A listener named Alan wrote, “When using the word versus, does it make a difference as to what is placed before and what is placed after? For example: Roe versus Wade or Red Sox versus Yankees. In other words, by rule is one the challenger, and the other the challenged?”

Plaintiff v. Defendant

Well, Alan, the court case part is easy. The standard format is Plaintiff v. Defendant. 

The plaintiff is the person or entity who is doing the suing, the one who makes the complaint, the one who brings the lawsuit. The defendant is the person or entity that is being sued. 

Often, for lawsuits, versus is abbreviated as a lowercase V followed by a period. That’s AP style, so in Alan’s example Roe is the plaintiff, Wade is the defendant, and it’s written as Roe v. Wade

Away Team vs. Home Team

When you get to sports, it’s more complicated because it varies by country. In the United States, the home team is usually written second (i.e., Away vs. Home). So if the Chicago Bulls are playing the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, you’d see the game described as Bulls vs. Lakers because the Lakers are the home team. Again, that’s in the US, and the Associated Press says that in this case it’s OK to abbreviate versus as vs

Home Team vs. Away Team

However, in many other countries, it’s the opposite: the home team is listed first, and even the Associated Press tells its writers that if they are writing for the international wire, put the home team first and the away team second.

So that’s you quick and dirty tip: In court cases, it’s Plaintiff v. Defendant; and for sports, in the US, it’s Away Team vs. Home Team, but in many other countries, it’s Home Team vs. Away Team. 

Thanks to Alan for the interesting question.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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