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Congradulations or Congratulations?

Does it bug you when you see congradulations? Grammar Girl tackles this play on the word graduate.

By
Mignon Fogarty,

Congradulations_or_Congratulations

A couple of weeks ago on the Grammar Girl Facebook group, people were talking about the difference between “graduated college” and “graduated from college” and a reader named Loriano commented that it bugs him when people write congradulations with a D on graduation cards instead of congratulations (spelled properly with a T).

Obviously, it’s a play on the word graduate which has a D, but it made me wonder about the roots of the two words.

Congratulations, comes from Latin. The gratulations part comes from gratulari, which means “to give thanks or express joy,” and when you add the con part you get the full Latin meaning: “to wish joy.”

Gratulari comes from the Latin word gratus, which also gives us the words grace and gratitude. So those three words—congratulations, grace, and gratitude—are all related.

Graduate, on the other hand, comes from a different Latin word: graduatus, which means “to take a degree.” Through Latin, the word graduate is related the word grade.

It’s just a coincidence that graduate and congratulate sound the same in the middle.

Spotlight effect gold scene background image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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