In IT the acronyms we use change so fast it’s hard to keep up with them. With the Cloud hype raging a new acronym was introduced, on-premises, meaning that the services are running locally rather than in the cloud. This short blog will explain why on-premises is written as it is and why the other writings are wrong.


First, let me tell you why I’m writing this blog, it’s very irritating to read documents that have incorrect terms in them. I’m not English by birth and my native language is a southern dialect of Dutch. I too frequently make mistakes in my language. In my documents, however, I try hard to write proper Dutch or proper English for I have some International customers. Some words keep popping up wrong in documents, “persistant” instead of “persistent” is also one of them. I’ve seen this so many times in the past years and after a while, I had enough. With the cloud discussion going on I noticed that enterprise vendors in session at conferences are having a hard time getting on-premises right. I was getting pretty annoyed and it seemed to spread fast, hence this article to shed a bit of light on the differences.

Premise or premises

I’ve taken Merriam Webster dictionary as a reference and checked my thoughts with a grammar forum.


So let’s take a look at “premise”, a premise is: Quote “a statement that is assumed to be true for the purpose of an argument from which a conclusion is drawn”

Merriam Webster dictionary


When we look at “premises” it says; Quote “a piece of land together with its buildings, esp considered as a place of business”. “Premises” is always in a plural form for it always refers to at least two things, i.e. a land and the building upon it.

Premise has a totally different meaning than premises. Please use the correct word from now on. If you find this difficult, why not use on-site? There is no reason for posh words my old teacher used to say.

Hyphen or no Hyphen

The next question then is whether to use a hyphen (-) or not, that’s pretty difficult for no dictionary I’ve come across has on premises or on-premises written like that. It’s an IT invention I guess. Premises means a piece of land together with its buildings. We as IT decided that on-premises will be used to say we’re not in the Cloud. So looking at a similar word with similar meanings we come to the word “Site”. Before we had Cloud we talked about on-site or off-site locations. Those words are not sexy enough and therefore we now use cloud and premises. So when we look at on-site in the dictionary we notice its written with a hyphen. If on-site is written with a hyphen so should on-premises they have a similar meaning.

I did a final check, for I’m not native English, on a grammar forum where English grammar freaks (kinda like IT guys but they are grammar nerds) hang out. I asked them the open question should I use a hyphen or not in on-premises. The answer was I should and they actually referred me to the on-site example.


This is my final say about the subject for me it’s clear that we have to use on-premises with an “s” and a hyphen. Discussions about this are always welcome, bring them on.

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