If you are writing about the armed forces or police, you may need to talk about particular ranks, including that of “sergeant.” But can you also spell this word “sargent”? Or is this an error? This post will explain how to use this term correctly.
What Does Sergeant Mean?
“Sergeant” is a noun that refers to a particular rank in a military or policing body:
The sergeant drilled the recruits all morning.
The police sergeant took the man to the cells.
You might also see this term capitalized as part of someone’s official title:
This is Sergeant Miller, the platoon’s newest officer.
Or you might see it abbreviated to “Sgt.” in this context:
Sgt. Miller is the platoon’s newest officer.
However, other than when used in a title, “sergeant” is a standard common noun.
The Error: Sargent
Some people misspell this word as “sargent,” in line with its pronunciation. This is also reflected in the shortened, informal version of the word:
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Do we have to clean the toilet block again, sarge?
However, when using the full term, the correct spelling is always “sergeant”:
He was promoted to sergeant after years as a corporal. ✓
He was promoted to sargent after years as a corporal. ✗
She told the sergeant exactly how she felt. ✓
She told the sargent exactly how she felt. ✗
This spelling reflects the origin of the word in French, even if we now pronounce it differently. Once you know this, though, it is easier to avoid mistakes.
Summary: Sergeant or Sargent?
“Sergeant” is a noun that refers to a rank in a military or police organization. Due to its pronunciation, some people misspell it as “sargent.” But the correct spelling is always sergeant, with an “e” in the first syllable and an “ea” in the second one.
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