Commonly Misused Words: Admit

February 19, 2009: Issue 278 

 

Alex Rodriguez admits he used steroids. Christian Bale admits his tirade was out of line. Barack Obama admits he “screwed up” some Cabinet picks.

 

These examples show why the word admit often carries a negative connotation, suggesting wrongdoing or a reluctance to acknowledge facts. Be careful of admit in situations where it might imply a value judgment:
She admits she has high blood pressure.
He admits he has struggled with depression.
They admit they looked for bargains.

 

In all these cases, if attribution is necessary at all, acknowledge or just plain say is a better choice.
She has high blood pressure.
He acknowledges he has struggled with depression.
They say they looked for bargains.

 

When admit is the right word, it doesn’t need the preposition to before a gerund:
I admit going on too long on this topic.

In memoriam: Blossom Dearie died February 7. Obituaries in The New York Times and The Des Moines Register outlined her career as a jazz singer. But neither mentioned the reason anyone who was a child in the 1970s will instantly recognize her voice: She sang “Unpack Your Adjectives” for Schoolhouse Rock.

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