Graduated versus Graduated From

How can you make your alma mater proud?

Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #107

Graduated versus Graduated From

Today's topic is graduation.

I can't believe it's already May. Graduation season is around the corner, which means my inbox will soon be full of complaints about the phrase "graduated college." And those complainers are right to be annoyed.

For example, Becky from Sacramento wrote in last year to say that it's like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard when she hears people say something like "He graduated high school in 1988." "Is it correct to omit the preposition 'from'?" she asks.

No, Becky, it's not correct. The sentence should read "He graduated from high school in 1988."

Graduated Versus Graduated from

At first I thought this topic was too narrow to deserve a whole podcast. I haven't really heard the phrase "graduated college" or "graduated high school" much myself, but apparently I just don't get out enough because when I did a Google search, the phrase "graduated college" was twice as popular as the phrase "graduated from college." Twice! The wrong way of saying it showed up twice as often. I scrolled through the results for "graduated college" hoping perhaps I hadn’t thought of a saying in which the two words just happened to show up next to each other, but alas, every result I looked at was a student talking about how they had just graduated college. I then realized I was going through the five stages of grief.

Scrutinizing the results was actually the first stage—denial. I really couldn't believe that the wrong wording would be twice as common.

Then came anger. What kind of education are these kids getting? It's a disgrace!

I skipped bargaining and went straight to depression. If it's really that bad out there, what is the point of even doing a grammar podcast? Nobody cares. Nobody listens. Its a lost cause irregardless of what Squiggly and myself cogitate about the matter*.

And although this might be stretching the analogy of the five stages of grief, I suppose this podcast is a form of acceptance. It is bad out there, but we can still do our part. People do listen. So listen closely: If you go around saying you graduated college, you sound illiterate. The correct way to say it is that you graduated FROM college. Here's why:

"To graduate" is a verb, and it can be both transitive and intransitive. Remember that a transitive verb takes an object and an intransitive verb doesn’t. Remember, an object is the thing or person the verb is transferring action to—the thing the subject is taking action on.


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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