Copyeditors, help?
July 7, 2020 12:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm writing the headline for a story about someone who has become a Fellow of an organization (named, say, ABC).

Is this correct? "Jones Attains to ABC Fellow"? I realize this isn't used much in this way but I want to use it if not incorrect.
posted by noelpratt2nd to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
That sounds incorrect to me. "Attains" does not take "to."

I would write "Jones Attains ABC Fellowship" or "Jones Awarded ABC Fellowship."
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:14 PM on July 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

Sounds wrong to me. I would say "Jones Named ABC Fellow."
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:15 PM on July 7, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I'm an editor and a native speaker of US English, and I'm finding this wording odd.

"Attain to" is fine, though old-fashioned. But you generally attain to an abstract state (happiness, perfection, knowledge, self-awareness) or a role (a rank, a position, a grade), and not an ordinary referential noun (fellow, uncle, manager). You'll see things like "attain to an officer's rank" rather than "attain to officer," or "attain to married bliss" rather than "attain to spouse."

I think "Jones Attains to ABC Fellowship" would be the closest thing to your desired wording that I'd be ok with as an editor. And I'll say again, it does sound old-fashioned, at least here in the US.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:18 PM on July 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I've never heard that usage. I found some rare usages, but they seem to be mostly archaic (1800s) or in a religious context. There are lots of terms that could be considered technically correct but are still highly confusing. Be kind to your readers and change it.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:20 PM on July 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks much.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 12:22 PM on July 7, 2020

Attain doesn't take "to." You "attain," you don't "attain to."
posted by sevenstars at 1:43 PM on July 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

We say "named ABC fellow" too. Or "honoured with an ABC Fellowship". (Also an editor.)
posted by Lescha at 12:50 PM on July 8, 2020

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