Alumni/alumnus

Living in a college town and teaching at another local university, I hear this one a lot.

The common mistake is saying something like, “I am or she is an alumni of such-and-such college.” That’s impossible. Alumni is the PLURAL form of alumnus.

If you graduated from a college, you are an alumnus of that college. If a bunch of graduates are getting together, then the alumni of that school are gathering.

In other words, “I,” “he,” or “she” means “-us.” : )

(Or you can avoid the whole issue, and just say “alum” for short!)

(And yes, I know that TECHNICALLY, a female grad is an alumna, and the plural of that is alumnae. But I’m being radical and non-sexist, and my guess is that the female terms are on their way out to make way for a gender-neutral set of terms. Yes, I’m making a stand here….)

Note: No one wants a grammar lesson on Boxing Day, so the next post will be on January 2! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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