“Quit” as Predicate Adjective

By Maeve Maddox

Does anyone else cringe at the use of quit in the commercial that says:

44% of … users were quit during weeks 9 to 12 of treatment.

The context screams for quit as a verb, not as a predicate adjective:

44% of users … had quit after nine weeks.

The OED’s entry for quit “in predicative sense” offers these illustrations:

When the book was restored the borrower [was] declared quit. (1866)

This charter confers the right of having one man quit from tallage in every royal borough. 1928

Ralph is not quit of his wartime melancholy. (1945)

He is tired of Sophina. He wishes to be quit of her, but she cannot afford to leave him. (1997)

The example from 1866 sounds a bit like legal jargon. The one from 1928 uses “from” where we might say “of.” Those from 1945 and 1997, which include the particle “of,” sound perfectly idiomatic.

When starting to write this post, I’d expected to argue that nobody uses quit with a being verb without the “of,” but I’ve found many examples of the infinitive phrase to be quit, mostly in informal writing in comments and forums, and mostly in connection with beating the cigarette habit:

I am grateful to be quit. It is 5 months and 3 weeks.

But one thing I have not lost sight of:  How truly truly grateful I am to be desperate to be quit.

Smoking was a [habit] that had to be quit.

David Gelkin has it right – the idea quitting is always bad – is an idea that ought to be quit.

But after hearing Ms. Rice’s description of Christianity, I’m thinking it deserves to be quit.

Idiom is tricky. The statements with “to be quit” don’t offend my ear the way that drug commercial does.

Is it just me?

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10 Responses to ““Quit” as Predicate Adjective”

  • Frank Elliott

    I’ve always thought of “quit” as a verb.

    “I’m grate to be quit” sounds odd to me.

    “I’m grateful to have quit” suits my ear.

  • Tammi Kibler

    The phrase in the advertisement grates for me too, but I think it is effective ad copy because the irritation makes one reconsider the message just heard and this use of “quit” is idiomatic to smokers trying to quit.

  • Jeannine

    I think this could be just an issue with “ear”. I had a similar problem when I went “to university” and students from Europe would say things like that: “to university”, “to hospital” and other such sayings. Now I’ve caught myself saying them and they don’t sound quite so bad.

  • Connie Oswald Stofko

    I have never encountered this usage before. It doesn’t strike me as odd; it’s just different because it’s (I assume) British.

  • Kathryn

    I’m entirely with you on that one, Maeve. “To be quit” requires an object–“of the habit,” “of the debt,” “of the melancholy”–and that object needs to be explicit. Reading that sentence makes me shudder.

  • Ken

    It comes across as scruffy speech.

  • Katya

    To me it sounds like “to be done” or even “to be done with smth” I’m quit – I’m done.. It’s over. I think it sounds ok, though I never heard anyone say that.

  • Stephen Thorn

    The commercial’s usage rubs me the wrong way as well. But there’s nothing new in that — more and more often it seems that ad writers are sloppy in their work. An example that comes to mind is a public service announcement from the Health Department that details how to prevent getting the flu. It says that the flu is caused by speaking, kissing, shaking hands, sneezing, hugging, laughing, and so on — but that is quite untrue. Influenza is CAUSED by a virus and although it can be TRANSMITTED by those contact methods they do not cause the illness. Some dopey employee whose English language skills are evidently lacking wrote that slop (and even more galling, got PAID to do so) to be disseminated by the Dept. of Health, which ought to know better. Heck, I’m so dumb I can’t find my own fanny with both hands if the lights are off and _I_ know THAT much.

  • Precise Edit

    As a predicate adjective, “quit” is a major fail.

  • Yvonne Canchola

    I agree with Kathryn. The examples that use the explicit object sound idiomatic to me; the commercial usage triggers the red pen mode in me; the final examples with the expression “to be quit” just make me wait for the object to conclude the sentence.

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