Are Pre Words Redundant?

Written by on November 2, 2017 in blog, grammar, writing with 0 Comments

Are Pre Words Redundant?

Pre is a prefix that means before. It’s fairly easy to understand and everyone I know of uses pre in one way or another. But are pre words redundant?

  • preorder
  • preboard
  • preview
  • prerecord
  • pre-announce
  • pre-arrange

These are but a few of the pre words. There are many more. The problem I have with all of them is that I can’t help thinking they are all a little deceiving, perhaps even redundant.

Think about it. How can you “pre-board” a plane (or bus or train or boat or anything)? According to dictionary.com, board means to get on, take your seat, prepare for launch or take-off, or something. So how can you pre-board? It would literally mean to board before you board.

Or preorder? How do you order before you order? I know what preorder means—to place your order to purchase something before it officially goes on sale. But ordering the item means the same thing; when you order something you’re not buying it, you’re ordering it. The delivery date is a different matter. You can order something that’s not in stock and it might arrive later than an item you preordered.

And how can you prerecord something? That would be recording it before you record it. Something may have been recorded beforehand, but it wasn’t prerecorded. That example brings to light the question once more. Are pre words redundant?

Some Pre Words Make Sense

Yes, some pre words are fine. Words like the following short list.

  • prewar—meaning before the war.
  • prelaunch—meaning before the launch.
  • pre-sale—meaning before the sale.

Notice that these examples all pertain to events, in other words things that happened at a certain time. So pre would be any time prior to that. A reasonable way to express it.

But the words we used as examples earlier were all verbs, not events (nouns). And since a verb can take place at any point in time, it’s not safe to use pre.

Reality Strikes. Are Pre Words Redundant?

Yes, there is all of the garbage I spewed earlier and then there is reality. And the reality is that everyone used pre with verbs as well as nouns. I’m as guilty as the next person. I say preorder and others just as often as you, and I don’t think twice about it. This is one of those words/prefixes where the meaning may not change, but common usage will definitely affect how the word is used. See this page for another take on pre words.

So if you want to keep on saying preorder, preview, prerecord, and all the others, go right ahead. I’m sure no one will mind even if they do notice, because the chances are they use the words that way themselves.

But if you want to hang onto the past for a while longer, try to pay attention to which words you use the prefix with. If it’s a noun, go right ahead and use it, but if it’s a verb, take a second look.

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Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes nonfiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had forty animals—seven dogs, one horse, six cats, and twenty-five pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with forty-five loving “friends.”

You can see a list of “pre” words on my website.

 

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About the Author

About the Author:

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.

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