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  • I'd like to introduce you to this technology.
  • I'd like to introduce this tech to you.

Which one is right and what are appropriate uses?

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@tchrist: I think "{he} introduced me to heroin" is a slightly tongue-in-cheek way of phrasing things. We normally only use this form with an inanimate object if there's something "quirky" or otherwise unusual about either the thing being introduced, or the nature of the subsequent relationship that develops after the introduction. –  FumbleFingers Oct 3 '12 at 0:18
    
Why would either be wrong or better to use? –  Matt Эллен Oct 3 '12 at 9:32
    
@Matt: Per my answer, both are "wrong" to me because I'd like to introduce X to Y is effectively a "set phrase" used when formally presenting person X to higher-status person Y. But the first version is even more wrong, since it implies you have lower status than the technology. –  FumbleFingers Oct 3 '12 at 12:06

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think the conventional phrasing is, "I'd like to introduce you to this new technology." You can debate the significance of saying it either way, but I think that's how most people say it.

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You can also introduce a new product to the market., though not ordinarily to an individual. From the free dictionary: 4b. To bring into currency, use, or practice; originate: introduced the new product in several test markets; introduced the tango into their circle of friends. –  Spare Oom Oct 2 '12 at 23:30

There might be some politically correct answer, but I'd say that you should introduce the one you know less well to the one you know better. Either one is fine is with me, and I won't be offended (i.e., I won't choose to take offense) no matter which way the introduction goes. But this is a question for Miss Manners, not for ELU.

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Interesting take. But I think it's not so much a matter of which you know best - more a matter of which one has the higher status. So you'd introduce [a pleb] to the Queen, rather than the other way around. In OP's case I'd simply avoid using the word introduce altogether, since it seems potentially insulting either way round. Far more appropriate would be something like "I'd like you to have a look at this technology". –  FumbleFingers Oct 2 '12 at 16:58
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@FumbleFingers How is it insulting, and to whom? I guess I'm often a step behind on political correctness, but I can't say I've ever been offended when someone said, "Here, let me introduce you to the new printer" or whatever. –  Jay Oct 2 '12 at 21:17
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@FumbleFingers: Now that you mention it, I do remember something about introducing younger people to older, underlings to bosses, and lower status people to higher. But because I'm a working class social egalitarian, I keep forgetting who is who. And sometimes the technology is more important than the person, which anyone who has a teenaged kid knows. –  user21497 Oct 2 '12 at 22:30
    
Noting particularly @Jay's position here, I think I'll have to post an alternative answer... –  FumbleFingers Oct 2 '12 at 23:40
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@FumbleFingers: I didn't think you'd downvoted the answer, but because it's not standard, I grok the downvote. No big deal. What's important is maintaining the quality of one's answers so that others can learn something they can use (I learn a lot here every day, & not just about English), not worrying about gaining or losing points. I make mistakes, just like everyone else. There are always consequences. OTOH, I've obviously made a few enemies here (I don't play well in groups), so I expect random spitballs & have an idea or two about where they come from. Reality's not personal, just there. –  user21497 Oct 3 '12 at 3:57

From etymonline's entry for introduction...

The sense of "formal presentation of one person to another" is from 1711.

Obviously there are lots of other usages - you can introduce another variable into [an equation], or introduce a bill [to Parliament/to ban unicorn hunting/etc.], for example.

But I would find both "Let me introduce you to [thing]" and "Let me introduce [thing] to you" equally incorrect/insulting in most contexts. All such usages are based on the definition above, which implies two people meeting and acknowledging each other.

Standard etiquette is you introduce the lower-status person to the one with higher status, but using this form with inanimate objects is usually facetious, mock-ceremonial, or outright sarcastic/rude.


There are obviously differences of opinion here, and I may in the minority in seeing an element of disrespect when someone offers to introduce me to [something] (or indeed, the other way around).

But as to the matter of low/high status, I would just note that Google Books claims over 31,000 hits for "introduced him to the king", but not a single instance of "introduced the king to him".

As to OP's specific question, note that GB claims 4520 hits for "introduced him to the concept", but only 5 for "introduced the concept to him". Whether or not you perceive any "slight" in this usage, the person is invariably introduced to the abstract concept, not the other way around.

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+1 for getting past the either/or and interjecting "why"? –  Kristina Lopez Oct 3 '12 at 2:34
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-1 you can introduce things to people. It is normal, not necessarily any of the things you suggest. See introduce something to. –  Matt Эллен Oct 3 '12 at 12:17
    
@Matt: Imho, the example the programme is a bid to introduce opera to the masses in your link is either "mock-ceremonial" as referenced above, or it's just the "literal" sense as per Cane toads were introduced to Australia from Hawaii. Notwithstanding that, you'll often see "introduced him to drugs", but not "introduced drugs to him" –  FumbleFingers Oct 3 '12 at 12:45
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I agree with your second point, but not your first. –  Matt Эллен Oct 3 '12 at 12:52
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Maybe this is one of those UK/US things. Yes, I've read in etiquette books that you introduce the lower status person to the higher status. But I think few Americans have heard this rule and fewer still think about it when making introductions. I have never, ever heard an American indicate that he was insulted or otherwise thought anything was inappropriate because the order of the persons named in an introduction was wrong. I have often heard people say "We want to introduce people to this new technology" and variations thereof, and I've never heard anyone question this on etiquette grounds. –  Jay Oct 3 '12 at 14:00

You would normally say “I’d like to introduce this technology to you”.

Reversing an introduction could possibly give offense, or create confusion, but many people would never notice the difference. In any case, it would not be in any way ungrammatical.

The meaning of introduce is to “[b]ring a subject to the attention of (someone) for the first time”. (Google Dictionary) This is consistent with the history of the word: introduce was borrowed from a Latin verb with the sense of “to lead (or bring) in”, so literally to bring a subject to someone. (Online Etymology Dictionary)

Because you are bringing the technology to a person’s attention, then, the conventional direction of the introduction is “to you”.

The word has also long been used to mean a formal presentation of one person to another; again, the common meaning is “to lead (or bring) in”, and in the case of a formal presentation this may literally mean to bring a person to someone. It has correctly been pointed out in other answers and comments that the social custom is that a subordinate will be introduced to (led to) a superior, not the other way around. In a situation of equality, one social formula is “introduce you to one another”.

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