November 17, 2019

Why University Graduands Shouldn't Say “I am convoking/convocating today.”

The word convocation is most often misused. It is a noun, which means:
1. a large formal assembly, e.g., of a college or university community or senior members of a church

2. the arranging or calling of a formal meeting.

3. a ceremony held in a university or college when students recieve their degrees.

The last definition, which is the focus of this post, is most commonly used and often the intended meaning whenever convocation is implied.

Why University Graduands Shouldn't Say “I am convoking/convocating today.”
The confusion, however, arises from its verb form. There is no word as “convocate,” the related verb form is “convoke.” And it present participle is “convoking.”

Also note that the verb “convoke” is not used in third sense of convocation as defined above. It means to call a formal meeting, or call people together for a meeting.

Examples
1. He convoked the leading experts on juvenile delinquency to study the situation.

2. I will be convoking them all here by 12 noon.

Convoke is a transitive verb; thus it must take an object. So, if you intend to call people to rejoice or celebrate with you on your school's convocation or on your completion of a degree programme, then the right word to use is NOT convocate, convoke, convoking, convocating.

It is totally wrong to say, for example:

1. I will be convocating today.

2. I am convocating.

3. I shall convocate today.



It is contextually and grammatically wrong to say:


1. I will be convoking today.

2. I am convoking.

3. I shall convoke today.

The sentences are also grammatically wrong because “convoke” is a transitive verb and, as such, must take an object.

It would be grammatically right (but still contextually wrong) to say:

I will convoke members of my family under this tent.

The other noun form of convocation is “convocator” (and NOT convocant), i.e., the person who calls for a formal meeting. So, you are neither a convocator nor a convocant.

The adjective is “convocative” or “convocational.” The synonyms of convocation are: assembly, assemblage, conference, congregation, gathering, or meeting.

Just as it is incorrect to say “my conference,” “my assembly,” it is also wrong to say “my convocation” since you are not the convocator, and since convocation is NOT a subject of one person.

The problem is just that most people use convocation (sense 3) the same way they use "graduation" where it is correct to say:

1. I am graduating today.

2. It's my graduation today.

However, most people, especially Nigerians, tend to localise the word “graduation” to secondary schools. There is nothing that says you shouldn't use graduation when referring to university or college. Therefore, it is safer to say:

1. Today is my graduation.

2. I am graduating today.

3. Welcome the graduand.

That is why we have the best graduating student and NOT the best convoking/convocating student(s).

© Grammar Clinic

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