Grammar Bite #23: Use of ‘proceed’

16 August 2012

 

Can you say what’s wrong with these two sentences?

·      We haven’t had sufficient time to proceed our formal purchase order for materials procurement.

·      Work can be proceeded when we receive the necessary materials.

 

The problem is with the word ‘proceed’.

 

First, the definition

‘Proceed’ (verb) means to start doing something or continue doing something after a pause or delay. It also means to move forward or to travel in a certain direction. For example,

Let’s proceed with the meeting.

We should ask our boss on how to proceed from here.

 

Sentence 1

Look at the first example above – ‘We haven’t had sufficient time to proceed our formal purchase order for materials procurement.’

 

The problem with this sentence is that ‘proceed’ is the wrong word. The correct word here is ‘process’ – ‘We haven’t had sufficient time to process our formal purchase order for materials procurement.’

 

Second, the voice

‘Proceed’ is an intransitive verb, which means that it cannot take an object in a sentence. And without an object, it’s impossible to construct a passive voice sentence.

 

Sentence 2

In the second example—‘Work can be proceeded when we receive the necessary materials’ – the writer has incorrectly used passive voice with ‘proceed’.

 

To correct this sentence, write it in active voice: ‘Work can proceed when we receive the necessary materials.’

 

Further details

For further information on the correct use of ‘proceed’, go here. And for further information on the correct way to construct passive voice sentences, go here.

 

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