While reading through an open source book I read the following sentence:

This chapter covers basic Elm syntax that is important to get familiar with.

I may be nitpicking (no, I am nitpicking, without question), but it really bothered me. The verb is fine, but I felt it should read:

This chapter covers basic Elm syntax that is important to familiarize.

My problem is, I'm not sure if it's correct. I failed at finding an example of the verb being used similarly. All examples I found were about familiarizing oneself with something, or someone else on something. English being a second language to me, I'd like confirmation either way, before I make an ass of myself.

  • 7
    To familiarize is used only transitively: thefreedictionary.com/familiarize - ...is important to familiarize (yourself) with.
    – user66974
    Feb 1, 2016 at 20:35
  • 1
    An alternative form often heard is ... important to become familiar with.
    – bib
    Feb 1, 2016 at 22:28
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    I realise Josh61 has already given you the info you need; but anyway, another phrasing could be : This chapter covers basic Elm syntax which is a prerequisite for later chapters.
    – k1eran
    Feb 1, 2016 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


The Collins Dictionary for English Learners defines familiarize as:

If you familiarize yourself with something, or if someone familiarizes you with it, you learn about it and start to understand it. ■ EG: [V pron-refl + with] ⇒ I was expected to familiarise myself with the keyboard. ■ EG: [V n + with] ⇒ The goal of the experiment was to familiarize the people with the new laws.

The notations "[V pron-refl + with]" and "[V n + with]" are meant to show that the word familiarize is always used reflexively, so your example would be incorrect:

This chapter covers basic Elm syntax that is important to familiarize.

One possible way to use the word familiarize to express this would be:

It is important to familiarize yourself with the basic Elm syntax that this chapter covers.

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