Does a person run or stand for election? I have a sentence that reads: "Now is the time to start thinking of standing for election to a lodge office." I have been told that it should read: "...run for lodge office." Is that true?


In the US, run for office is much more common than either run for election or stand for election. Consider this NGram (American English corpus):

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Thus, if you are in the US, I'd agree with the correction you were suggested, especially since run for [office] can be and usually is used with the name of a specific office. Since your sentence talks about not just a generic election, but election to a lodge office, it seems a little redundant to say standing for election to a lodge office when you could just say running for a lodge office.

Addendum: Though this wouldn't really fit in the example sentence you gave, if you want a stock phrase of similar meaning that uses the word election, Americans often say that a person is up for election. e.g. "Bush was up for election in 2000, and again in 2004."

  • People also replace office with the name of the office (e.g., run for mayor), which I personally find off-putting but which is much more common than run for the office of mayor. Dec 29 '11 at 20:18

One may stand for election or run for election; either form is correct, although one might be more likely to say stand for election and run for office.

Running up the Google N-grams:-

stand for vs run for, all English

suggests that stand for is more common than run for, although the difference is less marked when one selects the American English option:-

stand for vs run for, American English

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    -1 Please include links along with the pictures. I like to be able to try variations of ngrams searches without having to start from scratch typing in all the words. Dec 29 '11 at 17:06
  • Type ngrams in [] brackets, then the URL books.google.com/ngrams/… in () parentheses and then a phrase like "for run for election,stand for election". On linux I use my qenqote menu qset-qenqote.xml to do that. Dec 29 '11 at 17:26
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    @jwpat7: I don't think it is fair to "demand" that people include links to Ngrams. The picture is clear enough: no information or reference is withheld from viewers. If you want to test variations, you can easily go to Ngrams yourself and do so. Especially your (now retracted) down-vote seemed unnecessary. Dec 30 '11 at 4:30
  • @Cerberus - Please raise the question on Meta rather than here, & provide link to it Dec 30 '11 at 5:37
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    @JeffAtwood, it looks like they are the same (for the American corpus) except alcas has added run for office to his diagram, which makes the other two rather small by comparison. The bumps in stand for election around 1940 and 1960 are visible, as is the smaller peak for run for election just before 1980. Dec 30 '11 at 11:47

In the UK, a parliamentary candidate stands for election. We don't have a presidency for candidates to run for.

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    Helpfully, we stand for election so that we might sit in Parliament. Dec 29 '11 at 20:59

"Stands for election" seems to be primarily a UK phrase, as I've never heard of it before in the states. Here, you usually say someone is "running for office."

  • What does a candidate for Congress do? Is membership of Congress an 'office'? Dec 29 '11 at 17:31
  • @BarrieEngland: Then you usually say that they're "running for congress." Dec 29 '11 at 17:32
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    In the U.S. a Presidential candidate will have a "running mate" Vice-Presidential candidate, reinforcing the association. Dec 29 '11 at 21:00
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    @user653: Plus, they call it the "presidential race." Dec 30 '11 at 4:41

Here what the writer Emmet Fox (born in Ireland, raised in England, lived in the USA), wrote in 1953 on the difference between "stand" and "run":

Take politics, for example. Many people have a “slight” tendency to excessive criticism of the other side! Have you noticed it—especially around election time? Now that is a serious matter because if it is not checked, democracy may become impossible. In democratic countries, if a candidate is going to be vilified and accused of every crime under the sun, if a man stands, or runs—in England you stand for Parliament but in America you run for Congress (difference in tempo, you know)—if, as soon as a man runs for governor, or mayor, or senator, or president, if he is going to be accused of every foul thing, what will happen? Decent, sensitive men will not run for public office. Only the toughest people will do it. If the men who are really qualified in every way, with a high sense of honor, are going to be vilified like this, they will not run for office. So it is very important not to attack people in politics in that unfair way. I do not mean that they should not be criticized. You can say that Jones’s policy is bad, but not that Jones is a crook or that he beats his wife, when you have seen Mrs. Jones and know quite well that it is probably the other way around!

Excerpted from: The Ten Commandments: The Master Key to Life, Harper and Row, 1953

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