Have you ever consulted a dictionary to confirm the correct usage of a word only to find that the information listed is not what you expected? Who’s the ultimate vocabulary authority? You or the dictionary?
A YouTube viewer posted a question asking which preposition to use with the verb accept: get accepted to a college or get accepted at a college. Most dictionaries I turned to failed to do more than provide a definition. Learner’s dictionaries thankfully offered some examples to consider. I found the passive phrases accepted by school and at school. One dictionary also listed the transitive structure accept somebody into something. However, I didn’t find the phrase get accepted to a school, which is the wording I probably use most often to express the meaning of being admitted to a college or university. Have I been wrong all these years?
My response to the learner explained that use of at was confirmed by a dictionary, but I added that I frequently hear use of to, and in fact, I personally tend to say that somebody got accepted to a school. Ultimately, the student must process the information and decide for himself or herself what is “right”. In such cases, do I have to be the sole authority? No. I believe I have the responsibility to provide information based on respected sources, but I’m allowed to add my own observations. In fact, I’d argue that by doing so, I’m modeling what learning is. It’s pursuing information, thinking critically about your findings, and applying it to real life situations.
- Longman Dictionary of American English, 1997.