This question has popped up in my email and phone conversations with folks from their Covid-19 shelters. So, I decided to address when to use each word.
First things first. Definitions:
Converse (v.) to engage in conversation.
Standard English used in most official business documents and professional settings.
Conversate (v.) vernacular. To engage in conversation.
Used in informal dialogue and documents containing dialogue. It has become popular since 2000, according to Dictionary.com.
More on conversate
Conversate has been in use in American English for more than 200 years. It was first recorded in use in 1811.
Conversate was the topic of a discussion between OED editor Jesse Sheidlower and Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic in 2009. The word was added to the online OED in 2016. Look for it in the next printed edition.
Merriam Webster’s describes conversate as “A back-formation of conversation… a type of word made by removing a portion of an existing word (such as the suffix). Thus, escalate was formed by shortening escalator; televise comes from television, and donate was made from donation. There are many hundreds of words in English made this way, but some people will forever look askance at words such as liaise (formed by back-formation from liaison).
Conversate for a few, cause in a few, we gon’ do what we came to do, ain’t that right boo —Notorious B.I.G. “Big Poppa”
When to use what
So, for now, use converse in your reports and proposals and your academic and professional documents.
Conversate is definitely a word, as are thousands of words not included in the dictionary. However, it is not yet part of the standard business lexicon.
#writing #amediting #grammar #rightword #amwriting
Need help putting your best word forward? Contact me for a chat at firstname.lastname@example.org