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Can 'Invite' Be a Noun?

Is turning a verb such as "invite" into a noun acceptable when we already have the word "invitation"? Is it abominable? It depends on the word.

By
Samantha Enslen, Writing for
Episode #626
a man with an invitation--or an invite

Recently, Grammar Girl listener Keith Dahl‎ wrote in with an interesting question. Here’s what he said: 

“I notice that people often use ‘invite’ as a noun, as in ‘I’ll send you an invite.’ I think this is improperly used, but it is so common that I wonder if it is becoming acceptable. … I freely admit that I’m rather old school when it comes to grammar rules. Your thoughts?”

Well, Keith, here are several thoughts. 

Let’s start by observing that you’re right: people do use the word “invite” as a noun. We can tell this by doing a search on Google Ngrams, a tool that charts how frequently words are used. Ngrams shows us that this word’s use as a noun (as in, “to send someone an invite”) is dwarfed by its use as a verb (as in, “to invite someone”). But the usage does occur. 

We can also note that using “invite” as a noun, although it might seem new, is actually quite old. It was first recorded in 1659 in a religious text. A certain Bishop Cramer offers a colleague suffering religious persecution “an earnest invite to England, with promises of ample promotion.”

The use of “invite” as a verb has an earlier recorded use, from 1553. It shows up in a list of instructions for sailors: “If you shall be invited into any Lords or Rulers [sic] house … be warie [sic] of woods and ambushes, and that your weapons be not out of your possession.” Good advice!

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About the Author

Samantha Enslen, Writing for Grammar Girl

Samantha Enslen is an award-winning writer who has worked in publishing for more than 20 years. She runs Dragonfly Editorial, an agency that provides copywriting, editing, and design for scientific, medical, technical, and corporate materials. Sam is the vice president of ACES, The Society for Editing, and is the managing editor of Tracking Changes, ACES' quarterly journal.

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