"I was graduated" vs. "I graduated"

I am studying for the GRE right now, and one of my practice tests asserts that the sentence:

“After he graduated school, he entered the army”

should actually be written:

“After he was graduated from school, he entered the army.”
Well, I don’t buy it. I consulted Webster on the matter and he tells me that I am at least partially correct.

*"In the 19th century the transitive sense (1a) was prescribed; the intransitive <I graduated from college> was condemned. The intransitive prevailed nonetheless, and today it is the sense likely to be prescribed and the newer transitive (sense 1b) the one condemned. All three are standard. The intransitive is currently the most common, the new transitive the least common. " *
So, what do you think? Should I call up the GRE people and tell them that after 100 years, this question has outlived its usefulness?

Here’s what American Heritage has to say:

It looks like either example is acceptable.

You didn’t give the full definition, which can be found online here. The first usage in the OP is (1b). So you’ve got Webster saying it’s standard but likely to be condemned, and American Heritage saying 77% of the panel objected to it – personally, I would be inclined to change it.

Nevertheless that is not a good question – we should replace something likely to be disparaged today in favor of something less than common? Either it really is an old question or they were trying to be tricky.

RealityChuck beat me to it. I was going to give the exact same quote. I agree with American Heritage Dictionary wholehartedly.

Garner’s “Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style” accepts both forms as “standard,” yet still condemns as bad usage the construction “She graduated high school,” prefering instead “She graduated FROM high school.”

My reading of the American Heritage usage note makes me believe that

“After he was graduated from school, he entered the army.”


“After he graduated from school, he entered the army.”

would be correct. Sounds like the usage council doesn’t like the “graduated school” bit because it sounds like the school graduated from the person.

** GLILLY **, you are correct. The first example is never correct. It is kind of stilted English, IMHO, to say, “He was graduated from x.” Better is “He graduated from x.” But never “He graduated x.” The student does not do the graduation. It is the school that gradulates the student, not vice-versa.

Before anyone objects to “gradulates,” let me say that it is a combination of congratulations to a graduate. But you won’t find it in your Funk & Wagnal. :slight_smile:

If somebody told me “I was graduated”, I think I would instinctively examine them to see whether the markings on their body were in inches or centimetres; I don’t think I would be able to help it.

No, all the sources cited say the first example <b>is</b> correct, and is the older usage. However, it is more common to use the latter, especially in America – as you say, it is considered “stilted” over here.

You are correct in noting that, whether or not “graduated” is preceded by “was,” it is <b>always</b> followed by “from.”