Friday, April 18, 2008

Alumna; Alumnus; Alumnae; Alumni.

For the foreseeable future, I am going to try to straighten out the differences between or among words that are often confused. I will rate each set of confusing words as to their “distractibility,” that is, the degree to which readers will be distracted from the writers' meaning if they fail to use the accurate word. * = Who cares? ** = Some people will be distracted. *** = Many people will be distracted. Usage problems distract readers from concentrating on meaning.

Question: What are the differences between “alumna,” “alumnus,” ”alumnae” and “alumni”?

Answer: “Alumna” = individual female graduate; “alumnus” = individual male graduate;

“Alumnae” = two or more female graduates; “alumni” = two or more male graduates.

Question: How do you refer to a mixed company of graduates?

Answer: Refer to them as “graduates.”

Rating of Distractibility: **

No comments: