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Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Whether or not you've hit your limit, I never tire of untangling homophones. For instance, incite and insight sound like the same word, but one is used to rile up the masses, while the other is used to glean knowledge (though I suppose that knowledge could be used to rile up the masses too, but I digress).

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's look at the differences of incite and insight, including a few examples of correct usages.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight

Incite is a verb that means to rile up, spur on, or put in motion. A person gives a stirring speech that incites a march on the center of town. Or a team loses (or sometimes wins) a big sporting match that incites celebration and riots in the streets.

(The chaotically seductive path to persuasive copy.)

Insight, on the other hand, is a noun that describes the act or ability to comprehend the inner nature of things, people, and/or situations. For instance, a person may have an insight into what incited a riot. Or the same person may have an insight about the best chili in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Make sense?

Here are some examples:

Correct: The baby brother may incite a fight between his older sisters by tattling on what each is doing.
Incorrect: The baby brother may insight a fight between his older sisters by tattling on what each is doing.

Correct: My only basketball insight is that my brother always shoots with his right hand and never his left.
Incorrect: My only basketball incite is that my brother always shoots with is right hand and never his left.

Correct: She used her insight about the CEO bonus package to incite a strike at the factory.

Here's the trick I use for these two words: I think of "insight" as using a form of "sight" to understand a person, thing, or situation, which means "incite" is the other word. Personally, I hope these Grammar Rules deliver helpful insights about how to use language and incite enthusiasm about digging deeper into proper usage.

And be sure to check out all the latest grammar rules here or these posts from 2021:

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Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

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