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Graduated versus Graduated From

How can you make your alma mater proud?

By
Mignon Fogarty
Episode #107

Examples


When you say that someone graduated from a specific college you are using the intransitive form of "to graduate" because the verb has no object. Let's say Squiggly got a degree from Burrow College. Although it's a bit archaic, the formal way to say this using the intransitive form of the verb "to graduate" is to say, "Squiggly was graduated from Burrow." The more modern way to say it and still be correct is "Squiggly graduated from Burrow." You need the "from." Squiggly graduated FROM Burrow. The shortest form of this sentence would be "Squiggly graduated." If you think about it that way, you can see that "from Burrow" isn't an object, it's just a prepositional phrase that tells you more about where Squiggly graduated from.

The thing is, when you say, "Squiggly graduated Burrow," you've turned "to graduate" into a transitive verb. By definition, the act of graduating is something a school does to a student, not something a student does to a school. Schools graduate students. You could say that Burrow graduated 600 students this year. However, if you say, “Squiggly graduated Burrow,” you're making Squiggly the subject and Burrow the object and saying that Squiggly did something to the college. It's possible Squiggly did many things to the college during his tenure there. He may have damaged the college, delighted the college, or desecrated the college--but he didn't graduate the college.

I don't know why so many people have taken to dropping the "from" and are going around saying they graduated college, but it really is wrong. Do your alma mater a favor and make your English instructors proud. Tell people you graduated from college or high school.

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*That's a grammar joke. I tried to write the most incorrect sentence possible to show that I was depressed.

Resources

The American Heritage Dictionary entry on “graduate”
Patricia O'Connor, author of Woe Is I on “graduate”
Paul Brians, author of Common Errors in English Usage, on “graduate”

Pages

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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