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'Emphasize Something' or 'Emphasize on Something'?

(Last Updated: 18 August 2022)

An image of text showing what Alice Mak Mei-kuen, who is a Hong Kong politician with a bachelor's degree in English, said regarding Hong Kong as a police state. She said, 'If it is a police state, why not? I don't think it is any problem with a police state. When we say a police state, I will view the other side. We emphasize on security.'
Image Credit: Stand News (now defunct)

Emphasize or Emphasize On: Which One Is Correct?

The verb emphasize (also spelt emphasise in British English) is not used with the preposition on. It is a transitive verb, meaning that it takes a direct object:

We emphasize security.
We emphasize on security.

The report emphasizes the need for political stability.
The report emphasizes on the need for political stability.

We need to emphasize the critical role of insurance and the value it creates for society.
We need to emphasize on the critical role of insurance and the value it creates for society.

Instead of emphasize something, you can also say put/lay/place emphasis on something:

We put emphasis on security.

✅ Our online course lays emphasis on group work.

Schools in Hong Kong place great emphasis on grammar.

Examples from the Media

When politicians are asked to set out what they consider to be core British values, they invariably emphasise abstract concepts such as tolerance, freedom, belief in personal responsibility, mutual respect and fairness—all admirable in themselves but not unique to these shores. —The Telegraph (2014)

The federal government's new "digital charter" will emphasize Canadians' control over their own personal information and promises "strong enforcement" of transnational internet giants that break the law. —Toronto Star (2019)

Commonly, these mayors have bridged racial differences in their cities, established ties to neighboring suburbs, and put emphasis on economic revival. —The Washington Post (1998)

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes touched a nerve when, in an address to a Sydney girls' school, he criticised the current heavy emphasis on STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—to the exclusion of others, particularly the humanities. —The Age (2018)

Recommended Further Reading

'Stress Something' or 'Stress on Something'?

Real-World Examples of Misuse

An image of text coming from an English exam paper that says, 'You need to emphasise on the salesperson's attitude.' The edited sentence says, 'You need to emphasise the salesperson's attitude.'

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