Foregoing - forgoing

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Two words that sound the same are foregoing and forgoing. They are distinguished by a letter '-e-'. Neither is common in everyday English, though students may find them in formal writing. See also Forego - forgo.

  • The first of the two, foregoing, is not uncommon in academic English. It means, as the etymology suggests, 'going before'. It is usually used in the '-ing' form, either as an adjective or as a noun. Academics may write "The foregoing may suggest ...", or "The foregoing has shown ...". By this they mean "The preceding section of my argument"; the bit that has gone before what you are reading now.
  • The other homophone, forgoing, is rarer in any English nowadays. The verb 'to forgo' something is to do without it, and forgoing (without any '-e-') is the -ing participle. "Christians mark the Lenten fast by forgoing some luxury", and "Muslims mark Ramadan by forgoing food and drink during the hours of daylight" suggest that it is most often used in a religious, or at least spiritual, context.
The base form of the verb, forgo, is more common than the base form forego - one can forgo a given pleasure, or advise another to forgo smoking, more naturally and therefore idiomatically, than one event can forego another.