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In informal contexts, is it grammatically correct to use "TA" as a verb?

For example, can I say, "I have TAed 4 courses this semester, " meaning that I have worked as a teaching assistant for four courses?

Is this usage commonly accepted in English, particularly in academic settings?

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    Enough to be in a dictionary. Jan 7 at 4:44
  • 1
    is it grammatically correct to use "TA" as a verb? Given that highly educated native speakers do it routinely, I wouldn't worry too much :) They won't even notice :) Jan 7 at 18:21
  • Shakespeare can write "but me no buts", but the rest of us aren't allowed the same degree of licence. Jan 7 at 18:42
  • It's completely normal, as you can see by glancing in a dictionary. note that you do not even have to add the 'ed. In contemporary English, literally anything can be used as a verb.
    – Fattie
    Jan 7 at 20:03
  • @Fattie Verbing weirds language. Jan 7 at 22:25

3 Answers 3

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If instead of the being the TA, you were the coach, you would say that you coached last year. So it's not all that unusual to say that you TA'd. However, I would say that it's very informal and probably more for spoken than written English. Plus it only works with the abbreviation, not the full description.

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    Yeah there are plenty of uses of "TAed" (or however you spell it) in informal places, and even some on Academia SE.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 5 at 13:33
  • More generally, you can verb any noun that you could otherwise describe yourself as being (like roles). Doing so when that usage is not well established is very informal and makes you sound like a teenager or young adult.
    – fectin
    Jan 5 at 15:20
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    @fectin I've heard all ages of people use "TA" as a verb ("I need someone to TA my course next semester" -60-y.o. professor, "I'll TA your course" -22-y.o. graduate student). I think verbing, especially with acronyms, only implies familiarity of the speaker and audience with the term, not so much age or formality.
    – Sam
    Jan 5 at 16:35
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    @sam Sure, and TA-ing is reasonably well established. It's the extension to unfamiliar uses that sound odd ("adulting" is the obvious example, but it works with nearly anything" "Mitt Romney has been senatoring for how long now?")
    – fectin
    Jan 6 at 1:05
  • You don't need to add an extension. Saying so is causing confusion for the OP.
    – Fattie
    Jan 7 at 20:05
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Using a noun as a verb is as old as Shakespeare, it's known as functional shift.

Functional shift, also known as conversion or zero-derivation, is a word-formation process that converts a word from one syntactic category (part of speech) to another with no change to the form of the word (e.g., Brinton & Brinton, 2010; Quirk et al., 1985). For example, the word bride is commonly a noun as in the following excerpt (1a) from Shakespeare, and it is converted to a verb with no visible morphological changes in (1b).

(1) a. “Neighbours and friends, though bride and bridegroom wants/For to supply the places at the table,/You know there wants no junkets at the feast.”

b. “Shall sweet Bianca practise how to bride it?”

Source: Processing of Shakespearean functional shift as a semantic anomaly in L2 English: Evidence from an ERP study (DOI)

For the informal contexts you ask about, I see no problem at all. For formal contexts, it would be wise to check whether the readability is hurt by your construction.

It's possible to take this to extremes, there are famous examples to be found. Relevant XKCD:

I don't mean to go all language nerd on you, but I just legit adverbed "legit", verbed "adverb", an adjectived "language nerd."
Source: XKCD 1443: Language Nerd

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This sounds perfectly reasonable to me, both as someone who has TA'ed and has had TAs. It's slightly awkward in writing though, because it's unclear how to spell it - but it's okay in relatively informal writing. If you google "I TAed" you will find examples.

To give an idea of the range of formality, "I TAed four courses this semester" is less formal than "I was a TA for four courses this semester..." which is less formal than "I was a teaching assistant..."

(Incidentally, you can't say "I assisted a teacher/professor" with the same meaning. That would just mean you helped them somehow, not necessarily in the way a TA position indicates. If you wanted a verb other than "was" you'd need to say "I acted/served as a teaching assistant".)

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