Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why You Shouldn’t Graduate High School

It’s the middle of June and we’re nearing the end of graduation schedules. That means that quite a few young people will have graduated from high school recently and many other people will have graduated from college or graduate school.

So this is a good time for me to point out that people graduate from institutions. Unfortunately, I frequently hear sentences such as “He graduated high school last week,” and I invariably cringe when I hear that.

The problem with saying “He graduated high school last week” is that you’re changing “graduate” from an intransitive verb to a transitive verb. What does that mean? Basically, you’re saying that the new graduate performed an action on the institution. Remember, institutions graduate students. Students do not graduate institutions.

Does it matter if you say “He graduated high school last week”? Perhaps not, depending on your audience. If your friends always say, “He graduated high school,” you’ll no doubt do the same. However, you should be aware that this usage is considered nonstandard, and in job interviews or other conversations that might have an influence on your future, please say “I graduated from college” rather than “I graduated college” (assuming you actually did, of course).