Does “resume” need accent marks?

Via Grammar Girl’s Twitter feed, Baltimore Sun editor John McIntyre addresses the question of including accent marks in words like resume:

As for resume, it is awkward that there is a completely different word with the same spelling, but the sense is almost always clear in context; I do think that adding the accent marks looks a little fussy. There are, however, less common words from French and Spanish that turn up and probably ought to have accent marks.

So here’s the ruling. Go to whatever dictionary is the basis for your house style. If it shows words adopted from foreign languages with accent marks, use them.

Unless you decide not to.

In my view, the only reason to include accent marks in words that English has appropriated from another language (as opposed to proper names) is to cut down the potential for confusion. It should be clear from the context which meaning of resume is meant, continue or a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience.

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2 Responses to Does “resume” need accent marks?

  1. Ray Ward says:

    I agree. The only thing I’d add is that, if you use accent marks at all, you have to be consistent. In the same writing, don’t use them for some words (or names) but not others. Usually it’s easier (and entirely correct) to omit them.

  2. A bit of American hubris to me. Accents are important markings for words we borrow from other languages. Use them as a sign of respect and understanding. I would rather not hide our roots, as my grandparents did when new in this country.

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