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Which of the following is grammatical?

  • I am deputizing for him/her.
  • I am deputizing him/her.

I think in the case of covering you have to use:

I am covering for him/her.

...or do you?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Merriam-Webster shows a usage of deputize that somewhat agrees with your first sentence: I deputize for the newspaper's editor on the weekends. But it sounds strange to me. I'd say that I was acting for or covering for someone not available to do the work at the moment, or that I had been authorized to act as that person's agent. I associate deputy with legal positions, like deputy sheriff and deputy district attorney. There may be a distinction in British and American English, though.

I am deputizing him/her means that you are authorizing someone else to act as a deputy.

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The OED’s second definition of deputize is ‘To act as a deputy’, but it is described as colloquial. The first definition is ‘To appoint as a deputy. Chiefly U.S.’ – Barrie England Jan 9 '13 at 10:43
@BarrieEngland: So "I am deputizing him/her" could also be used to say that you act on behalf of him/her? – vonjd Jan 9 '13 at 10:51
@vonjd. No. I it means 'I am appointing him (or her) as a deputy.' – Barrie England Jan 9 '13 at 10:56
The two constructions with deputize turn out to be opposites. If I deputize you, then I am in charge and you are authorized to act for me. But if I deputize for you, then you are in charge, and I am authorized to act for you. – John Lawler Jan 9 '13 at 17:36

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