Is it Graduated or Graduated From?

It’s that time of year, and as schools and university hold commencement ceremonies, it’s worth asking whether those who walk graduated or graduated from their institution?

As diplomas are handed out, the more industrious students immediately update their resumes. But when they’re writing about their academic accomplishment, should they say they graduated or graduated from their institution?

First, let me pause to point out one thing about that last paragraph: you’ll note I didn’t include the accent marks over resume. Since it’s a French word, it’s properly written as résumé in French. But most people nowadays drop the accent marks because they require specialized characters that do not always translate properly. So you have to decide whether you prefer the two-accent version or the no-accent version. (The single accent over the last E is just wrong.)

For simplification, I use the no-accent version.

With that bit of controversy (hopefully) settled, we move on to the bigger one before us: Graduated or Graduated From.

Consider these two sentences:

Patrick graduated the University of South Carolina.
Patrick graduated from the University of South Carolina.

You can’t see it, but as I typed those two sentences, the Grammarly plugin flagged one as incorrect. When I hover over the red line it displays, it suggests the other form.

I think the confusion over which one is correct comes from the fact that you can properly say that a school graduates students. For example, my alma mater is about to graduate its Class of 2018.

But as Mignon Fogerty pointed out in her Grammar Girl podcast a decade ago, the school performs the action on the students, not the other way around.

So as you’ve probably guessed, the correct sentence above is the second one: Patrick graduated from the University of South Carolina.

Writers Digest explained it this way:

To say “I graduated” is akin to saying “I slept.”

To then say, “I graduated college,” they explain, would be the same as saying, “I slept my bed.” A sentence like that should earn a failing grade for even a graduate with top honors!

So remember: you graduated from whatever institution gave you that prized diploma.

And congratulations on all that hard work!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.