To refer is to point in the direction of a particular thing, or a person mentions another person or a thing:
- What is he referring to?
- To what is he referring? (This avoids ending the question with a preposition.)
- To whom is she referring?
- Is she referring to me? (Is she talking about something that includes me?)
- What does this word refer to?
- The word "aquatic" refers to activities involving water.
- A large sign outside of the building refers to the people who built it.
- The students at the college refer to their history professor as "Dr. Schmidt." No one calls him by his first name. (Some professors go by the title of "professor.")
- You shouldn’t refer to a doctor by his or her first name. (Medical doctors are rarely addressed by their first names inside a doctor’s office or hospital.)
- Did you refer to the directions when putting the bike together?
- The logo on a product refers to the manufacturer.
This sign refers drivers to the presence of a railroad crossing.
The word "refer" is often used when one person recommends another person for a job. This is called a reference. The word "refer" is also used when a person has a particular area of expertise:
- The young woman was referred for the job because she had the necessary skills.
- Everyone refers to Jim as an expert in this area.
- I’m going to refer you to someone who has more experience with this.
- A friend of mine referred me to you. (A friend of mine recommended you because of your expertise.)
The word "referral" is a noun. When someone makes a referral, he or she makes a recommendation. The word "referral" is commonly used in business:
- Most of Bob’s new business comes from referrals. (Customers happy with his work recommend him to other people.)
- Real estate agents get a lot of business through referrals.
- Linda asks her clients to voluntarily fill out a referral form in order to generate new business.
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Date of publication: February 23, 2017