Imagine you’re interviewing for the job of your dreams. You have a great résumé. You’re prepared. You feel you’d be perfect for the job. You’re full of confidence.
You come to the part of the interview where you discuss your education. And you say, “I graduated high school in 2000 and graduated college in 2004.”
D’oh! The interviewer closes his or her eyes and sighs. You have no idea what just happened.
Did you catch that ugly grammatical blunder? The problem is with the verb: graduated. In this context, it should always take the preposition from.
Graduated from. You don’t graduate college. College graduates you. You graduate from college.
I hear “graduated college” a lot, even among well-educated people. Don’t make the mistake and risk lowering a potential employer’s opinion of you.
One Google search for “graduated from high school,” in quotes, gave me 15.1 million results.
A Google search for “graduated high school” gave just 750,000.
“Graduated college” made it into the recent “NPR Grammar Hall of Shame.”
A story that appeared on USA Today’s website had the headline “10 things I wish I knew when I graduated college.” Oops.
The Washington Post ran a story last week, also about education, with both a “graduated college” and, in the author’s bio, a “graduated from.” So 1-for-1 there.
Bill Walsh, who writes about English usage and is an editor at The Washington Post, says this much in his excellent book “Yes, I Could Care Less: How To Be A Language Snob Without Being A Jerk“:
I’m in the middle on this one. It’s undeniably Jethro-esque (though increasingly popular) to say He graduated high school. Then again, I’m not one of those old-timers who insist it should be He was graduated from high school. Make it He graduated from high school.
Sure, it’s not the all-time worst thing you could say, but nonetheless it’s incorrect usage in standard English.
Just realise that there are many people who find the omission of “from” ungrammatical. They will judge you. And it could cost you.
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