Language question: preposition for remarriage

+6 votes
The grammar around the words 'marry' and 'remarry' is a bit different in English with respect to my own language.

As far as I know it's:

- A marries B. (no preposition)

- A is married to B. (with preposition)

But how do I use the word 'remarry' correctly:

- A remarries B.

- A remarries to B.

The first sounds to me like A married the same person for a second time, but the second is inconsistent with the word 'marry', as it uses a preposition.
in The Tree House by Koen van Hoof G2G6 Mach 2 (29.0k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I usually use "married firstly name", then "married secondly name", then "married thirdly name" — as I was taught that was the proper way to refer to multiple marriages when writing a biography.  (You will see this online as well.)

Various examples from Wikipedia:

The grant to Sandleford was confirmed by Edelina's daughter Beatrice de Fay (died before 1245), widow of Ralph de Fay, (she married secondly Hugh de Neville (died 1234)

Neville's first wife, Joan de Cornhill, died after December 1224. Some time before April 1230 he married secondly Beatrice, the widow of Ralph de Fay and one of the five daughters of Stephen of Turnham.

Eleanor (1307–1359), married firstly in 1319 with James of Aragon (the union was never consummated and annulled) and secondly in 1329 with King Alfonso IV of Aragon, brother of her first husband.

Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York (c. 1373 – 25 October 1415), who married firstly, Beatrice of Portugal, which marriage was annulled, and secondly, Philippa Mohun, third daughter of John Mohun,

Isabella (1470–1498) married firstly to Afonso, Prince of Portugal, no issue. Married secondly to Manuel I of Portugal, no surviving issue.

John married secondly Constance of Castile in an attempt to win the throne of Castile that was unsuccessful.

All this talk of married firstly, married second, etc., implies that we actually know about all of the person's marriages. It is usually possibly to determine that the marriage to A came before the marriage to B, but we may not be able to determine whether there was a marriage before the marriage to A, or whether there was another spouse between A and B.
Thank you!
From many Dutch marriage certificates we fortunately can determine the marriages of a person. The people are designated either as 'jongeman/jongedochter' (literally young man / young daughter, but meaning unmarried before) or as 'weduwnaar/weduwe van X' (widower/widow of X). So you can reconstruct the marriages of one person.

7 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

I think the key is to provide the full context of the situation, rather than the use/non-use of prepositions.

If you simply say "A remarried B," without further context, I would presume that A and B were previously married to each other, then were divorced (or other marriage-dissolving event), and later married each other again.

But if you say "A married B, but they later divorced. Then A remarried C," we would have fuller context of the chain of events and the situation would be clearer.

edit: I use "USA-English," which may differ from "the Queen's English" - just for reference.wink

edit 2: punctuation correctioncool

by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (211k points)
selected by Koen van Hoof
Thank you!

I always make a full story in the biography, so the context will be clear. Although I'll just use marry instead of remarry in the case of a new spouse.

The Dutch word 'hertrouwen' just means 'marry a new person' and it literally translates to 'remarry. However it seems that it doesn't mean the same.
About the best answer: several answers are of similar good quality, unfortunately I can only choose one.

Thanks for all the answers. I appreciate it!
+8 votes
I agree that A remarries B sounds like marrying B twice. I think commas may help here:

A remarries, to B.

But what I'd actually say is probably 'A's second marriage was to B'.
by Deborah Pate G2G6 Mach 4 (43.5k points)

I wanted to use in it a sentence like 'On 10 May 1850 Ann remarried John.' or 'On 10 May 1850 Ann remarried to John.' So the first example looks like Ann married John for the second time.

So you'd use "On 10 May 1850 Ann remarried, to John." in that case?
Well, I think if I read that I'd understand it correctly.

But honestly if I had to write it myself I'd find that awkward and probably just say 'Ann married John', or if necessary 'Ann married John, her second husband', or some other workaround.
I am a not-native English speaker myself, but I agree that a workaround is the best version that you don't get any confusion about who married whom when and if they were married twice or not.
Any use of remarry/remarried/remarries gives the very strong implication that the person married their previous spouse again (as did Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), not that there was a second marriage to a different person.

I'll just not use 'remarry' anymore in this context and make it clear from the context that this is the second marriage.

The Dutch word 'hertrouwen' seems to have a different nuance than 'remarry'.
+3 votes
I'm an editor and I still struggle with the clearest, yet most concise way of saying that.  An author of a published family tree on my husband's side always used, "A second married B," but that doesn't sound natural.  

*A married B as his second wife (maybe??)
by Lynnette Hettrick G2G6 Mach 1 (16.3k points)
A (second) married B.
+3 votes
I agree it gets confusing Koen.  As stated above I usually avoid it and instead write A. married B as his or her second...  Or after B died in 1902, A. married for a second time C., or A secondly married B in ...
by Rhonda Zimmerman G2G6 Pilot (190k points)
+3 votes
Not that I've thought about it carefully, but when I say someone remarried, I always mean the person married another person after a divorce or death of the first spouse.  If I wanted to say the person married the same spouse as before, I would make that clear.
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (313k points)

I looked up the only one in my family that I know about, and find that I didn't note it at all on her WikiTree or Ancestry profiles!  Probably because I never found the divorce or second marriage record, and just had family lore to go on.  

I don't think WikiTree allows a second marriage to the same person to be recorded in the data section.  What I said in my own notes, re the first husband, was "later divorced, then remarried to each other."

+3 votes
Remarry works.  My Uncle Jesse married his wife Grace once, divorced her three times, and remarried her twice.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (201k points)

When my father married my mother as his second wife, he did not remarry her. He married for the second time.  Likewise when he married my step-mother, he did not remarry her.  He married thirdly.

Remarry works fine if it's the same person (Liz Taylor=Richard Burton).

Practically speaking, I think we would say "Liz Taylor and Richard Burton remarried in 1975," not "Liz remarried."
Thank you!

I think I'll not use 'remarry' for people who marry with new spouse, after the first one past away. I'll just use A marries B. It will be clear from the context that it isn't the first spouse.
+3 votes

From Cambridge Dictionary at

verb [intransitive or transitive]
to marry again:
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)

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