June 7, 2015

Invite vs Invitation: Better English




Which sentence would you choose for a thank-you reply in English?

“Thank you for your invite”

or

“Thank you for your invitation”
The Guide To Better English (Bloomsbury) suggests: “the use of the word invite in place of invitation is disliked and avoided by many users, even in formal context.”

I often receive thank-you messages on Linkedin. What surprises me a bit is that people you don’t know in person are more likely to use the noun invite.

Do some people use the noun invite mistakenly?

Interestingly, Guardian Observer style guide suggests: “invitation is a noun; invite is a verb, so you don’t send someone an invite”.

Does the noun invite exist?

Hmm…

To answer these questions as well as other questions related to the English language, I continue my research project focused on the English vocabulary and grammar. 

Facts

Good news: you can find the noun invite in English dictionaries.

According to M. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 2003, the noun invite dates back to 1659 and it means invitation.
By the way, the verb invite is older and dates back to 1533.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1973 gives us the following information: “the noun invite (colloquial and vulgar)”.

According to The Oxford Dictionary on English, 2006, the noun invite is informal and it means invitation.

Word stress

You say invite (verb) but you should say ‘invite (noun).
Compare with record – record, pro’jectproject.

Usage

I asked different people about how they use the nouns invite and invitation.

For some people it might depend on circumstances or context. They often use the noun invite in speaking or very informal situations, for example, in text messages and private emails (just in order to make their massages short).

On the other hand, some people are rather confused and don’t know which noun to choose. Why? They say they don’t want to make a mistake that could lead to misunderstanding.

I also looked through a lot of tweets on Twitter and found out that both nouns are used.   

Invite vs Invitation

“The Fish-Footman began by producing from under his arm a great letter…, saying in a solemn tone, “For the Duchess. An invitation from the Queen to play croquet.” (from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”)

Which sentence did the Duchess choose for her thank-you reply?

“Thank you for your invite”

or

“Thank you for your invitation”

How do you use the nouns invite and invitation?

And this is my invite… hmm… invitation to the discussion.


References:

Manser, Martin. Guide To Better English. Bloomsbury, 1994: 184

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Merriam-Webster’s Incorporated, 2003: 659

Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford University Press, 2006: 916

The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 1973: 641

Carrol, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, NY, Anvel Books:77-8 

Copyright © 2015 Olga Henggi, All Rights Reserved

4 comments:

  1. Well, looking at English and the use of the language especially in the USA, you will find that the media as well as marketing and advertising are heavily involved in "butchering" what was once known as English. Words like "winnigest" (most wins) are being invented daily and you hear "take a listen" (listen to...) on all networks. Even worse the beating, that spelling has taken since the invention of "spell check". People do not seem to know the difference between sail and sale, there and their or plane and plain anymore. They blindly accept what the PC tells them.

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    1. Thanks for good examples. Indeed, some new words are invented by marketing companies. Interestingly, people often like and use such words. Could they also explain what new words mean? Very seldom (just my experience). Anyway, vocabulary you use could be a reflection of your personality.

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  2. Dear Olga,

    Thanks a lot for this interesting article and your thorough research. I would always use "invitation" as it was my impression that this is the formal expression. "Invite" to me sounds a bit more informal - like something that was invented on the internet to shorten the original word.

    Dear Hans, what you wrote about English and the use of it in the US also applies to Germany and the use of German. Many new words are invented, and funny enough, most of them sound English. Native speakers might still not understand them. An example: back shop. This is what "modern" bakeries are called in Germany. A bit silly, isn't it?

    Cheers,
    Gaby

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    1. Dear Gaby, thank you for your comment.

      It’s amazing that so many people would choose the word “invitation”. Actually, I would do the same. By the way, it’s possible that the noun “invite” might become more and more popular. It could also happen that it could become less informal. As you know, the way how people use the words influences their meanings and usage. For example, the English word “banquet” originally meant just a snack … :-)

      More examples of words and their origins you can find in my newsletter “Your English Vocabulary” written for everyone who wants to improve English skills.

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