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Do you ‘graduate from’ college or ‘graduate college’? Just take the diploma and go | COMMENTARY

I recently saw someone on Twitter complaining about people who say they graduated college. No, he insisted, one properly graduates from college.

Well, yes and no.

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A century ago, a similar pedant would have censured graduate from college as illiterate. The word graduate means “to grant an academic degree or diploma,” and the student doesn’t do that; the college does. So, using standard English then meant that a student was graduated from college.

Over the twentieth century, the intransitive sense prevailed, and graduate from college became standard.

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Of course, English, a fickle language, has toyed with the verb, and over the past thirty or forty years the transitive sense has re-emerged, and graduate college can be widely found in speech and casual writing.

It’s still informal, and graduate from college prevails, for the moment, in formal writing, but graduate from may not be where you want to take your last stand.

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