English Verb To Graduate Essay

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Languages are constantly changing, shifting, over the course of time and the difficult task for grammarians and linguists is knowing when to change the rules. A modern example of this age old problem is the case of the English verb “to graduate.” Over the past century or so, the meaning of this verb has broadened to encompass a larger meaning and because the definition has changed, so must the grammar associated with it in writing and speech must change (American Heritage). The verb “to graduate” comes from the Medieval Latin past participle graduare, meaning to take a degree and was later adopted into Middle English (Pearsall, Concise Oxford English). The controversy surrounding this verb has three different levels: was graduated from college,…show more content…
The traditional meaning the verb “to graduate” is transitive and means to grant and academic degree or diploma which places the action not on the student, but rather on the institution (American Heritage Dictionary). The institution grants the diploma or certificate, the student does not take one. By the nineteenth-century the definition expanded to include the intransitive graduated form of the verb but there was still much controversy surrounding on the correct usage of the verb (Merriam-Webster). Even in the nineteenth-century people were still unsure of whether or not the “was” was necessary (Concise Oxford English). The phrase was graduated from places the graduating solely on the institution, but this conflict with the modern definition of the verb which includes earning a degree. When using the phrase graduated from, the meaning changes to emphasize the students’ contribution to the graduating but it is still understood that the student is receiving the action. Graduated college, within the confines of the modern definition, means that the student graduated an institution which does not make much sense. Modern dictionaries, including the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, and The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, list the definition of “to graduate” as both to receive a degree and to earn a degree. These modern definitions make the object doing the action both the…show more content…
A biography of a historical advocate for the Social Security Administration found on the administration’s web page used this phrase to describe the advocate’s academic credentials (IIA.1). Yahoo news used also used this form with the author using the phrase by writing, “graduating from high school at 16 is impressive” and also in the same article used the other form graduated college (IIA.2). Even a news article posted on the website of Maryville College used this form of the phrase when discussing a former student (IIA.3). As one of the lowest prestige forms of writing, a tweet, the post written by Russel Wilson uses this verb phrase. Oral samples of this verb phrase were less common, but notably the two found show the two varying prestige levels where this verb phrase is found. An NPR news segment used the phrase to describe two females who graduated the army ranger program and a phrase spoken by an undergraduate student both would be deemed wrong by prescriptivists (IIB.1, IIB.2). A federal employee also used this form when he described his young adulthood and his decision to join the military after graduation (IIB.3). As the middle point between the three debated verb phrases, graduated from is very common among different prestige levels of writing. Although this phrase is very common and the definition is accepted by most every up to date
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