Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



In honor of the close of graduation season, the Grammar Nerd talks alumna, alumnus, alumni

They say, "Rules are meant to be broken." That includes grammar rules. But with grammar, it's best if you actually know the rules in the first place and then deliberately choose to break them.

All too often, that's not the case as grammar faux pas tend to be the result of naïveté or haste. The ignorant rule-breakage happens most publicly on social media where friends replace "too" with "to" and "their" with "there."

PMG FILE PHOTO - Kristen WohlersGrammar and a love of language come naturally to me. I'm an English Literature and Creative Writing major and I was the copy editor at my college newspaper. But you won't ever catch me wearing the shoes of that pretentious friend who corrects you in the comment section because then, I haven't left myself any room to make my own mistakes, have I? And I make mistakes, because, human.

But mostly I won't correct you because you, like much of the world, probably don't care whether your social media grammar is on point.

For those of you who do care, the grammar nerds, this is for you.

Today, in honor of the close of graduation season and newly-inducted members of the group, I discuss those graduates and former students collectively known as alumni.

PMG PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Alumna, alumnus and alumni.


Congratulations! It's a girl! And her name is not Alaina or Alia, it's Alumna. An alumna is one—no more—female graduate or former student of a particular school.

Example: University of Oregon alumna Kristen Rott recently accepted the gig as administrator and athletic director at Molalla High School.


Surprise! It's twins. And Alumna's brother shall be called Alumnus, like Magnus or the famous Harper Lee character Atticus. An alumnus is one male graduate or former student of a particular school.

Example: Jimmy Joyce, Beaverton High School and Linfield College alumnus, has officially begun his stint as Canby High School football coach.


As mentioned above, multiple graduated or former students are known as alumni. Two alumna? Two alumnus? They don't exist in grammar as such. Together, they're always alumni. That's thanks to the same Latin rule that gives you fungi and octopi (you didn't know that one, did you?).

Example: Marylhurst alumni (I love you, my peeps) wrote letters to one another in solidarity and in mourning over the recent closure.

That's it for today. Watch for more Grammar Nerd pieces in the future.

Kristen Wohlers
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