As verbs, what are the differences and relation between certify and certificate?

For example, in human resources, why is it effort certify not effort certificate?


"Certify" is a verb, "certificate" is a noun. You would issue a "certificate of effort" if you were to "certify effort".

Using "certificate" (long a there) as verb is an error, I would say. The listener will understand what you're saying, but it falls under the same heading as "orientate" (as opposed the shorter identical verb "orient"), in my estimation.

  • Interesting...this must be a British English neologism. Appropriately enough, the "orientate" example is also primarily a BE formation. – Chris B. Behrens Sep 2 '11 at 17:55
  • So, to put a bow on my answer - their meanings are identical, and the "certificate" usage is found primarily in British English, which seems to enjoy these formations. – Chris B. Behrens Sep 2 '11 at 17:57
  • I'm British but I've never heard certificate as a verb; it sounds wrong. Human resources departments don't have a great track record in their use of English. – Hugo Sep 2 '11 at 18:37
  • 1
    "Long A" means "the sound in English which rhymes with the name of the letter", so "A" is in "rate", or "fate", and not as in "rat" or "fat". When you put a bow on a present, it is the final step which adds nothing functional to the equation, but organizes and enhances the presentation. – Chris B. Behrens Sep 2 '11 at 21:13

Certify has a bit more variability to it in my opinion. Merriam Webster offers "to inform with certainty". In this sense it may be used to simply mean confirm, assure, verify, etc. (A friend recently asked me, "Could you certify that he is a reliable man?") In other cases it could also mean allow, especially in computer contexts.

Meanwhile, certificate would almost always mean to grant a certificate, or at the least to decree something in an outright official manner.

As for me, I would never use the latter. It sounds a bit too much like business jargon to be taken seriously in my mind.

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