517 GG Why Do We Call It Commencement? When to Delete “It”

COMMENCEMENT: Last week a professor in my department asked me why we call a graduation ceremony “commencement” when the event marks the end of college. “To commence” means “to begin,” not end, so it seems like an odd name for the ceremony.

DELETE ‘IT’: Want a timeless, painless tip that quickly helps you clarify your writing? Look for it. What William Cobbett said two centuries ago still rings true: “The word it is the greatest troubler that I know of in language. It is so small, and so convenient, that few are careful enough in using it.”

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