When to Use Perspective vs Prospective

Perspective vs prospective can confuse writers, but there is an easy trick to keep these words in the right order.

There are many words in the English language that are easy to mix up because they have similar sounds and spellings. Even though they are not true homophones, these words do create confusion, and English writers can get them wrong. The question of perspective vs prospective falls into this category.

Perspective vs prospective are similar in spelling and sound, but they have different meanings. Taking a closer look at what each means is vital to use them properly.

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The Meanings of Perspective vs Prospective

When to use perspective vs prospective?
Perspective vs prospective are similar in spelling and sound, but they have different meanings

So what is the difference between perspective and prospective? One begins with the prefix per and the other with the prefix pro, but what are the differences in meaning and nuance?

Because these have such similar spellings, they are often confused words. Taking a closer look at their meanings, usages and etymology will help you use them properly. Check out our won’t vs. wont and overestimate or underestimate explainers.

Definition of Perspective

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, perspective when used as a noun means “a mental view or prospect” or “the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed.” This could be rephrased as a point of view. Some example sentences include:

  • When you look at the situation from a different perspective, you may understand the other person’s actions.
  • The book told Cinderella’s story from the perspective of the evil step-sister. 
  • The toddler’s perspective made the school seem large.

Perspective can also have a use as an adjective. When used this way, it means “of, relating to, employing, or seen in perspective.” Here are some example sentences with this usage:

  • The perspective drawing showed a two-dimensional surface while trying to display a three-dimensional object.
  • The perspective glass helped him see more clearly.

Synonyms for Perspective

Some words with similar meanings to perspective include:

Etymology of Perspective

The word perspective comes from Middle English and has its roots in the Latin word perspectivus. This word means to look through something.

Definition of Prospective

Perspective vs prospective
Prospective means “likely to come about” or “likely to become”

According to the dictionary, the word prospective means “likely to come about” or “likely to become.” It also means “relating to or effective in the future.” This word is always an adjective, and some example sentences include these:

  • The prospective parents eagerly awaited approval of their adoption application.
  • The prospective earnings far exceeded the budget’s initial calculations.
  • Please treat all prospective clients as if they are existing clients.

Synonyms for Prospective

Words that mean something similar to prospective include:

  • Expected
  • Potential
  • Anticipated
  • Forthcoming
  • Imminent

Etymology of Prospective 

The word prospective also comes from Latin, but it comes from the word prospectivus, with a different prefix. This word means to look toward the future.

Simple Trick to Tell the Difference Between Prospective vs. Perspective

If you are struggling to tell the difference between these two spellings, consider first the part of speech of the word you are using. If it is a noun, the word is always perspective. 

If it is an adjective, you may still get confused, so consider the word “prospector.” A prospector was someone who went to California during the gold rush in hopes of finding future gold. It has the same prefix as prospective.

If you can remember that a prospector is looking for prospective gold, then you can remember which of the two words refers to something happening in the future. If you liked this post, you might also find our adverse vs. averse guide helpful.

A Final Word on Perspective vs Prospective

Perspective and prospective have different prefixes, and those prefixes completely change the meaning of the word. Perspective means the point of view or seeing something differently, while prospective means something that is likely or hopeful to happen in the future.

Perspective can be a noun or an adjective, but prospective is always an adjective. By understanding these meanings and parts of speech, you can use these words correctly every time.

FAQs About Perspective vs Prospective

What is the difference between prospective and perspective?

Prospective always refers to something that could happen in the future. Perspective has a connotation for the point of view of something. 

So if you are talking about an expecting woman you would say “prospective mother,” but if you are talking about an attitude or outlook, you would say “the mother’s perspective.”

Is it perspective or prospective?

Both of these words are correct depending on the meaning. If discussing a future event or status, such as prospective changes or prospective students, you use the pro-version. If you are talking about someone’s point of view, you use perspective.