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Grammar Granny        < Previous        Next >

 

Prefixes: "En" and "In"

 

It's embarrassing: an education website from a state department of education, produced in cooperation with the state university, positioning itself as "the" authority on what's best for children's educations from preschool through college, has a bonehead spelling error right on its homepage:

 

"Invisioning the Future" . . . instead of "Envisioning" it.

 

Take a look: http://p16.nebraska.edu -- though they may have corrected it by now.

 

Here's the rule on these two confusing prefixes:

The prefix "en-" means "to cause someone or something to be in" the place, condition or state to which the stem word relates.

 

The prefix "in-" basically means "inclusion within space," or "part of the whole." Think of "inborn," "include" or "indoor."

 

Now, the prefer "in-" can also mean a negative force or the absence of something, as in "inaccurate" or "indirect." But it's easy to keep those "in-" words straight from "en-" words.

 

Going back to our example, when you "envision" something, there's movement - you're taking the image of something from outside of yourself, and moving it within. There's usually the sense of "putting" something somewhere with the prefix "en-." Think of an "envelope" and "enabling" someone.

 

You wouldn't "invision" anything, because it's not already within you.

 

See? Can you . . . envision the difference?

 

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.GoBigEd.com Grammar Granny 019 2006

 

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