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Disorganized vs. Unorganized

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Disorganized vs. Unorganized

Alright, so we have two words referring to the same property, of "not being organized": "disorganized" and "unorganized". It is, therefore, a normal thing to ask yourself whether one of these words is wrong, whether they don't mean the same thing or if you are using them the wrong way.

Let's make sure you'll never be confused again by this situation after reading the short explanation below:

Disorganized vs. Unorganized

The essence of the words is the same. They both refer, no doubts, to something that is not organized at the moment of speaking. So what makes them different and why do we need two words to express the same situation?

The key to understanding when to use the right prefix is actually a more subtle aspect, referring to how that thing became "not organized". Was it always like this or has it been organized before, but that thing changed? Let's take a closer look to this!

When do we use "disorganized"?

"Disorganized" is the word indicating that something is not organized anymore, but it has been once. The prefix "dis-" of this adjective is the one that indicates a change of situation, the fact that not being organized in the present is actually a result which has a cause in the past.

Example: I used to keep my room clean, but since Goofy, my puppy, started living with me, it is so disorganized!

When do we use "unorganized?"

"Unorganized" is used to express the other situation. More exactly, the prefix "un-" indicates that the current situation is not a result, but a constant state/property, of something to "not be organized". "Unorganized", therefore, refers to something that is currently not organized and which has never been.
Example: She has an unorganized garden, as she has respected no rule when planting the flowers.

Conclusion

Even though both "disorganized" and "unorganized" refer to the same situation in the present, the subtle difference between them is represented by how the current situation became "not organized", whether it is a result or it has always been like this. Remembering this difference will be enough to help you identify how to correctly use these two similar adjectives.

Disorganized vs. Unorganized

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1 Comment

  • Brian Wizard
    I have created a new organization: The Futile Organization of the Unorganized. Un works better than dis when in reference to the garden, as it was the gardener's choice not to organize the planting. Unorganized fits the tag line of the logo I created, which is, "I know where everything is." Yes, once in a while I will attempt to organized my workshops, house, truck's interior, but due to my choice to just toss things in, over, and around it is obvious that the state of organization is ephemeral at best, and chaos appears to rule the areas, although, as I mentioned, I know where everything is, even if I have to move somethings to find what I'm looking for. The good news is, as a constantly unorganized person, with my new organization comes cards, refrigerator magnets, paperwork suitable for framing, and decals, of which any unorganized member can refer any complainer to inspect, saying, "Yes, my room (whatever, wherever) appears to be in disarray, but look, I have paperwork to prove all is just the way I like it." To join visit: www.brianwizard.com at the beginning of 2021. 
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