I wrote, "Imbuing a love of reading in youth is a high calling," to a friend and then questioned my usage of the word, "imbue." Does anyone think the way I used it was incorrect in terms of structure? Would,"Imbuing youth with a love reading is a high calling," a better choice?
closed as off-topic by Nigel J, Scott, user240918, oerkelens, NVZ Jan 29 '18 at 5:46
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You are fine. "Imbue" is a transitive verb and it works somewhat like "give". You can "imbue (the) youth with a love for reading" or you can "imbue a love of reading in (the) youth", just as you can "give me a book" or "give a book to me".
However, I would generally prefer "imbue (the) youth with a love for reading" and "give a book to me".
You haven't convinced me that your friend was concerned with word order. Your friend may simply be uncomfortable with using a less-common word. There may be a perception that the less common word is more pretentious.
Instill is more common than imbue in this situation. The two words are near synonyms, so you should be OK. However, there are subtle differences that may make you want to prefer instill after all:
gradually but firmly establish (an idea or attitude, especially a desirable one) in a person's mind.
inspire or permeate with a feeling or quality.
(both definitions from dictionary.com)
Instill comes from a latin root meaning "drop". Another meaning of the word is to drip a precise amount of one liquid into another. So, Instill has an implication of being measured.
On the other hand, imbue is also a synonym of "saturate". In Middle English, it meant precisely that. So if you say you want to "imbue" someone with a love of reading, it may imply you want to make someone love reading above anything else, which might be more than you might (or should) want.
To imbue ... feels more natural here. However, as answered already, instil is a little better in meaning - imbue is more like "baptize". You'll be able to look up synonyms yourself, but a couple that I think could also work:
- To encourage ... [you can't really force it]
- To inspire [can't escape the spiritual connotations here :)]