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Last updated at 17:50 BST, Monday, 29 June 2009

Using 'divorced'

Couple separating

A question from Pamela in South Korea :
I have tried to describe the status of one of my friends who became single again a few years ago. May I use ‘She was divorced’ or ‘She is divorce’ or ‘She divorced’?

Trudi Faulkner-Petrova answers

Click below to hear the answer:

Hello Pamela. Thanks for asking that question.

Let’s first look at what you should say regarding your friend and her divorce. In spoken English, it’s more normal to say ‘She got divorced’ which would describe the ‘event’ that happened in the past. You could also add a time reference to that to give it more detail, like ‘She got divorced a few years ago’ or ‘She got divorced a while back’, or even ‘She got divorced in 2005’.

But if you want to describe her status now, you’d have to say ‘She is divorced’. By the way, ‘she is divorce’ is grammatically incorrect; you need to say ‘divorced’ instead. So that’s how to refer to the event that happened to your friend and her current status.

Moving onto the ‘She was divorced’, this sounds like something we would read in a book or a biography and would often imply the person was no longer alive and we are recounting details from their life. For example:

Agnes Deacon married in June 1970 but was divorced soon after due to her husband’s infidelity.

So now you can successfully describe your friend’s current status but perhaps she’ll get married again one day and then you won’t have to use the ‘divorce’ about her at all!

About Trudi Faulkner-Petrova

Trudi Faulkner-Petrova

Trudi Faulkner-Petrova has a BA (Hons) in English, Bsc. in Psychology and Cert.TESOL. She has been teaching EFL, EAP and Business English in international schools, businesses and universities in Beijing over the last 10 years. Currently, she is a freelance tutor for ESOL, English Literature, SAT/TOEFL preparation and also works for the British Council as an IELTS and BULATS examiner. She is in the final year of studies for an Msc. in Psychology.

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