Which of the following is correct? Are both acceptable?

  1. "Acme construction majors on quality remodeling and renovation."
  2. "Acme construction majors in quality remodeling and renovation."
  • 3
    Is this some British usage? Neither of them sounds okay to me. May 6 '11 at 22:18
  • I'm intrigued that OP seems perfectly happy to accept the validity of using majors in this way (as do I), and is simply asking whether it should be followed by on or in. But much of the feedback focusses on the acceptability of majors itself. May 7 '11 at 0:15
  • I'm curious as to what is the sentence before this and what is the sentence after this? May 7 '11 at 1:36
  • @Peter shor: You wouldn't use either in British English.
    – UpTheCreek
    May 7 '11 at 6:38

Neither is standard. The first is wrong; the second is borderline-acceptable.

"Acme construction specializes in quality remodeling and renovation."

"Acme construction prides itself on quality remodeling and renovation."

"Acme construction is known for its quality remodeling and renovation."

"Acme construction: Quality remodeling and renovation" (slogan, not sentence)


  • Just because major used in this context isn't 'standard', doesn't mean it's 'wrong'. It's a typical example of creative use of language, and a useful attention-grabber in the context of advertisement copy. May 7 '11 at 0:09
  • @FumbleFingers: That's why I said it wasn't standard rather than saying that it was wrong. (The use of "on", on the other hand, is wrong.)
    – Charles
    May 7 '11 at 5:12
  • I understand what you're saying and why. Indeed I mostly agree. But to my mind it's a 'quirky' coinage, so I don't require it to follow the (only?) existing usage from an academic context. I don't rule out the possibility that the on form may catch on. May 7 '11 at 13:39
  • @FumbleFingers: Sure, you can write whatever you want -- even "acmeconstructionremodelingrenovationquality" -- I could imagine an advertiser choosing this because of the greater time needed to read it. On the other hand, the question asks which are correct and which acceptable, so dodging feedback with "you can write anything" doesn't seem useful. I'm sure my advice will be taken as it was intended: as a guide to what is standard, normal, acceptable English. Deviations from there should be done only intentionally. (Removing spaces is nonstandard just like "majors on".)
    – Charles
    May 7 '11 at 19:46
  • I'm certainly not saying you can write anything you want. I actually said I largely agree with you, and I personally prefer major in to major on. Presumably for the same reason as you. But this particular usage is relatively new, and I at least don't see why it must follow the syntax of the precursor which barely exists outside academia. May 8 '11 at 0:16

The usual idiom is to say that one majors in something:

Acme construction majors in quality remodeling and renovation.

  • 4
    Historically I think the only standard usage was to major in a subject in higher education. But if the word is being co-opted into trade puffs and the like, I suppose it depends on whether you associate it with synonyms like focus (leading to on), or with specialise (leading to in). The former certainly does get used, though it's not (yet) common. May 6 '11 at 17:22
  • 2
    In the context of a construction company 'majors' feels completely wrong. It's the kind of thing I'd expect to see on a badly translated foreign website.
    – UpTheCreek
    May 7 '11 at 6:41

The full sentence should be, "The major focus of Acme construction is quality remodeling and renovation." This indicates the majority of their work is focused on the discipline.

I am observing people struggling with proper word usage, at an alarmingly increasing rate. Simply following complete and proper sentence structure eliminates the majority of issues. (Example or rant? You decide.)

1: a person who has attained majority 2 a : one that is superior in rank, importance, size, or performance b : a major musical interval, scale, key, or mode 3 : a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps ranking above a captain and below a lieutenant colonel 4 a : an academic subject chosen as a field of specialization b : a student specializing in such a field 5 plural : major league baseball —used with the 6 : any of several high-level tournaments in professional golf

Source: Merriam Webster Dictionary

  • Major: to pursue an academic major < majored in English > Source: Merriam Webster Dictionary. The use in the question is just a figurative use of this sense, implying that this is the company's specialisation just like an academic major. I see no reason for alarm :-)
    – psmears
    May 6 '11 at 21:30

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