How to use the verb "discriminate" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

When used to suggest an unfair bias, discriminate should always be used with the preposition against:

minorities were discriminated
minorities were discriminated against

they discriminated minorities
they discriminated against minorities

Also, remember that the word discrimination doesn’t necessarily suggest racism or prejudice; in general it simply suggests that one is exercising selective judgment or has refined tastes. A discriminating reader, for example, is simply someone who makes careful decisions about what to read.

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.