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In Route vs. En Route

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When languages borrow from each other, they play fast and loose with spelling rules. Sometimes, the borrowed word or phrase will be altered so that it matches spelling norms of the new language. Other times, it is left as is, with little or no change. Given this inconsistency, is en route or in route the correct version of this French term? The results may not be surprising, but they are still interesting.

In this post, I will compare en route vs. in route. I will use each of these terms in at least one example sentence, so you can see how they look in context. Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that will allow you to choose in route or en route correctly every time.

Origin:

The word en route originated from late 18th century: French word route.

En route as verb:

The word en route is used as a verb in English language where it means to during the course of a journey; on the way.

He stopped in Turkey en route to Geneva.

En route is an expression that means on the way or in transit. It is an importation of a French phrase that translates, literally, to on the way.

Use of in route:

In route is a misspelling of en route. It is easy to see why writers make this mistake—the French en can translate directly to in in English, and the phrase itself means in transit. Nonetheless, in route is not considered a standard variant of this phrase.

Examples:

“Units are en route to the scene,” said the dispatcher over the radio.

“We have three supply vessels en route to the war zone,” said the ambassador.

Prominent Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said Thursday he was barred from leaving the country after authorities seized his passport while en route to the United Nations to denounce rights abuses by President Nicolás Maduro’s government. –The Wall Street Journal

En route or in route:

En route is a phrase that English imported from French in the 18th century. It means on the way. En route is the correct spelling. In route is a misspelling of en route.You should always use en route. In route seems like it should make sense, but it is a nonstandard variant and has never seen widespread use. Since en route comes from French, remember that en is a French word and in is not. This trick will allow you to remember the correct version of this phrase.

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"In Route vs. En Route." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 20 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/in_route_vs._en_route>.

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