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Perspective vs. Prospective

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

English, like all languages, contains many words which differ from each other by only a few characters, yet have totally different meanings and usage cases. Prospective and perspective are two such words in English. These words are spelled only slightly differently, but cannot be substituted for each other in a sentence. To do so would alter the meaning of the sentence at best, and at worst, could render it nonsensical. Many beginning writers and nonnative English speakers confuse these two words, but to do so weakens your writing and could damage your credibility in academic or professional settings. This article will help you remember the difference between these two words, so that you will always know whether to use prospective or perspective.


The words perspective and prospective share the same root (which comes from a Latin word meaning "to look"), but the different prefixes (pre- and pro-) result in different meanings. Perspective originated from late Middle English (in the sense ‘optics’): from medieval Latin perspectiva (ars) ‘(science of) optics’, from perspect- ‘looked at closely’, from the verb perspicere, from per- ‘through’ + specere ‘to look’. Prospective originated in late 16th century (in the sense ‘looking forward, having foresight’): from obsolete French prospectif, -ive or late Latin prospectivus, from Latin prospectus ‘view’

Perspective as noun:

Perspective is used as a noun in English languge where it means the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other.

The theory and practice of perspective is great for her.

The appearance of viewed objects with regard to their relative position, distance from the viewer, etc. is also called perspective.

She showed a trick of perspective.

A view or prospect of someone is his/her perspective.

Her perspective of the whole valley is breathtaking.

Prospective as adjective:

Prospective is used as an adjective where it describes noun that are expected or expecting to be the specified thing in the future.

She showed a prospective buyer around the house.

Something likely to happen at a future date is called prospective.

A meeting to discuss prospective changes in government legislation.


From a fan’s perspective, it was a great game to watch. [Yahoo! Sports]

The fourth section gives a global and historical perspective, perhaps to counterbalance the previous section. [Metapsychology]

No modern-day Samuel Johnson or Noah Webster ponders each prospective entry there. [New York Times]

Some of the best preparation for the interview occurs when you research the prospective employer. [The Union of Grass Valley]

Perspective or prospective:

A perspective is a viewpoint or attitude. Prospective is an adjective that describes expected events in the future. An easy way to keep these words straight in your head is to remember that a prospector searches for gold that he expects to find in the future. A prospector can be said to be a prospective finder of gold. By keeping this trick in mind, you can always be sure to use perspective and prospective correctly in your writing.

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"Perspective vs. Prospective." STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 21 Feb. 2018. <>.

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