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I am writing a letter of recommendation for a student whose record includes membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. How do I express this?

  • Jane was named to Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Jane was awarded Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Jane earned Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Jane was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Or something else?

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    Moderators: Feel free to migrate to English Language Usage if that is more appropriate. I wasn't sure. – Ellen Spertus Apr 15 '15 at 12:28
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"Inducted" is the term normally associated with the process of joining an honor society, whether it is a group such as Phi Beta Kappa or Tau Beta Pi, or a professional society such as the National Academy of Science, or even something cultural, like a sports hall of fame.

As a usage note, though, the term "inducted" is normally accompanied by a temporal reference.

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Why not simply: Jane was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Feel free to add relevant information, e.g. how long was she member, any outstanding exploits, perhaps even a statement how "elite" that particular society is, i.e. how hard it is to get in and her related accomplishments.

  • I think I'd like to stress that membership is not simply purchased but is an honor, without going into the details. Since the letter is for a U.S. scholarship, I can assume the reader will be familiar with it. (I realize my second sentence somewhat contradicts the first one.) – Ellen Spertus Apr 15 '15 at 12:53
  • I'm aware that it is an honor, I'm sorry, but I don't see where I suggested it can be purchased. Can you be more specific what lacks clarity? I'll be happy to edit my answer. However, I still feel that the most efficient approach is the simple one. Even more so, if, as you say it, the reader is familiar with the society. – user3209815 Apr 15 '15 at 13:44
  • You didn't, but to me the term member has been tainted by the triviality of becoming a member of most organizations. I meant no offense. – Ellen Spertus Apr 15 '15 at 15:31

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