Grammar Matters: Graduated College vs. Graduated From College


This one is for our in-house grammarian who gets exceptionally passionate when she hears the incorrect phrase “graduated college.”

As our summer intern returns to school for her senior year and will be graduating (we expect) in May, it seems an apropos time to address this common grammar mistake.


ISSUE: Is it “graduated college” or “graduated from college?”

The correct use is to include the “from.” Why so many people choose to leave it out, we’re not sure. Here’s the boring grammar-speak reason why leaving out the from is incorrect.

When you say someone graduated college, you are turning “to graduate” into a transitive verb. Graduating is something a school does to a student, not something a student does to a school. If you say, “Kim graduated Penn State,” Kim is the subject and Penn State is the object. In that case, you are saying Kim did something to Penn State, not the other way around. What you really mean to do is use the intransitive form of “to graduate” because the verb has no object. Therefore you need a preposition – in this case “from.”


EXAMPLES: Looking at other intransitive verb examples might help:

“to sit” – you wouldn’t say, “I sat the chair.” It’s “I sat on the chair.” [using the preposition on]

“to sleep” – you wouldn’t say, “MJ slept her bed.” It’s “MJ slept in her bed.” [using the preposition in]

“to laugh” – you wouldn’t say, “Todd laughed joke.” It’s “Todd laughed at the joke.” [using the preposition at]


QUICK TIP: It’s simple…say “graduated from!”

If you’re in the habit of leaving out the preposition “from” with graduated, catch yourself when you say it incorrectly and correct it. It might take a few catches, but eventually you’ll remember.

When you do, you’ll make your junior high school teacher proud. :)