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Valuable vs. Invaluable

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Some English usage can look mystifying to outside observers. Often, though, even things which don’t seem to make sense on a superficial level actually do make sense after all. Invaluable and valuable, for example, seem to be opposites, but most English speakers and writers use them more like synonyms. This shouldn’t be possible, but as we will see, once you dig deeper into the literal meaning of these words, the reasons for this usage become clearer.

In this post, I will compare valuable vs. invaluable. I will use each word in at least one example sentence, so you can see it in its context. Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that you can use as a reminder of whether valuable or invaluable is a better word to choose.

Valuable as adjective:

Valuable is used as an adjective in English language where it refers to worth a great deal of money.

He broke a valuable antique.

Valuable as noun:

Valuable is also used as a noun in English language where it means a thing that is of great worth, especially a small item of personal property.

Put all your valuables in the hotel safe.

Invaluable as adjective:

Invaluable is also used as an adjective in English language thus causing confusion among the young readers and writers. It that is extremely useful or indispensable.

We can’t lose our invaluable source of information.

Examples:

Google was getting used to wearing the crown as the world’s most valuable brand. [San Francisco Chronicle]

His answers, and his profiles of “pioneers” who have made such transitions, make for invaluable and inspiring reading. [Wall Street Journal]

A case could also be made that state-controlled Chinese oil company PetroChina was briefly more valuable than either company. [CBC]

Having designed gardens for nearly 40 years, I have accumulated an invaluable list of artisans and suppliers. [Telegraph]

The finest were made from ­precious materials and were among the most valuable gifts bestowed by princes and monarchs. [Mirror]

Having music feature in a primetime TV programme can also mean invaluable exposure for local artists, both here and overseas. [Stuff.co.nz]

Valuable or invaluable:

These words are close in their spellings and close in the meanings, but there are important nuances that you should learn as a writer. Valuable is an adjective that means expensive or precious. Invaluable looks like its opposite, but actually means too important to be assigned a value. It might be easier to think of invaluable as a rough synonym for innumerable, which means too great to be counted. Since both of these words begin with the prefix in-, remembering that invaluable describes something to important to be valued is much easier.

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"Valuable vs. Invaluable." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 25 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/valuable_vs._invaluable>.

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