I watched a movie the other night in which a revered contagious disease specialist facing a lethal epidemic delivered a line to a nervous patient that made my own skin crawl. It was something along the lines of: "That's not my area of expertise, but I'll refer a doctor."
Ugh. Apparently no one is immune to bad grammar, not even the upper echelon of Hollywood scriptwriters.
Refer and recommend have different meanings:
Refer is to direct to a source for help or information. You refer a person to something, and this action constitutes a referral.
Recommend is to endorse. You recommend something to a person, and this action constitutes a recommendation.
Here are some examples of correct usage:
The doctor referred his patient to a specialist.
People often get these usages mixed up, which is understandable, but if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, it's important to know the difference. After all, you want people to recommend your work to their friends, just as you want your friends to refer you to great ways to promote your work.
Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper and It's a Waverly Life. Her third novel, Honey on Your Mind, will be released in July 2012. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
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