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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Partake

Bryan A. Garner is the award-winning author or editor of more than 20 books.  Garner’s Modern American Usage has established itself as the preeminent contemporary guide to the effective use of the English language.  The 3rd edition, which was just published, has been thoroughly updated with new material on nearly every page.  Below we have posted one of his daily usage tips about the word “partake”. To subscribe to his daily tips click here.


“Partake” is construed with either “in” or “of” in the sense “to take part or share in some action or condition; to participate.”

“In” is the more common preposition in this sense — e.g.: “From 5 to 5:30 p.m., members will meet and partake in a wine and cheese reception.” Joan Szeglowski, “Town ‘N’ Country,” Tampa Trib., 10 Sept. 1997, at 4.

“Of” is common when the sense is “to receive, get, or have a share or portion of” — e.g.: “So should one partake of Chinese cuisine, British history and Clint Eastwood?” T. Collins, “Carryout, Videos Make Dating Like Staying Home,” Courier-J. (Louisville), 12 Sept. 1997, at W27.

Recent Comments

  1. Zach

    Back in my younger days, we would ask people, “do you partake?” while offering them whatever libation or other vice we happened to be partaking in at the time. It worked well for so many situations; alcohol, cigarettes, espresso drinks, etc.

    It seems to me that this is both a valid usage of the word and a good example to demonstrate the flexibility and ever-changing landscape of our language. Whenever we think we have found an unchangeable rule some kid who hasn’t heard of the rule goes and breaks it. ;)

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Phi Beta Kappa, Rebecca. Rebecca said: "partake" in or of? http://bit.ly/bUz67w […]

  3. SV

    What would you say of its use in the following sentence –

    He was a visionary who realised that if Indians had to partake of their growing economy, families needed to be planned and healthy.

    Would you say the way the word has been used is old fashioned?

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