Compensating for ‘compensate’

😦 The revenues resulting from the tax amnesty could compensate the temporary loss of revenues deriving from the transition.

‘Compensate’ offers three possibilities:

  1. compensate someone (a person who is a victim because of an unfortunate circumstance beyond their control)
  2. compensate for something (an unfortunate situation that was beyond someone’s control)
  3. compensate someone for something

The use of compensate in the opening example implies that a ‘loss’ is a person – “..compensate the temporary loss of revenues..”! This is clearly impossible. However we can easily correct the sentence:

🙂 The revenues resulting from the tax amnesty could compensate for the temporary loss of revenues deriving from the transition.

Or, alternatively:

🙂 The revenues resulting from the tax amnesty could compensate people for the temporary loss of revenues deriving from the transition.

You also need to be careful when using the noun compensation:

  1. Something (possibly money) is compensation for something else (possibly an action that caused the loss of money)
  2. Someone seeks/receives compensation for something (a person seeks or receives, possibly money, in return for money lost through no fault of their own)

Finally, many of the examples at forbetterenglish.com show ‘compensate’ used in passive voice.

Compensation often comes in the form of money, but if you have experience of other kinds of compensation, please comment below!

@eapguru

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