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Prophecy vs. Prophesy (Grammar Rules)

Learn when it's appropriate to use prophecy vs. prophesy with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct and incorrect usages.

I'm going to take a prophetic leap here and predict this post will not become one of our most popular grammar posts, but grammar is not intended to be a popularity contest. Rather, it's about figuring out how to correctly master language. So let's dig in.

(If you're curious, click here to view our 12 most popular grammar posts.)

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Prophecy vs. Prophesy

Prophecy is a noun that means prediction. Specifically, it's a prediction that is delivered by a prophet, who is usually, though not always, a person instilled with their prognostic powers by a divine being. Prophecy tends to carry more weight than an everyday prediction, forecast, or educated guess.

Prophesy, on the other hand, is a verb that describes the action of making a prophetic prediction. As with the noun, a prophet most commonly prophesies under divine influence.

Here are a few examples:

Correct: The king often worried over the prophecy about his kingdom falling into darkness.
Incorrect: The king often worried over the prophesy about his kingdom falling into darkness.

Correct: She prophesied, "The divine goddess will bless this marriage with enduring happiness."
Incorrect: She prophecied, "The divine goddess will bless this marriage with enduring happiness."

As such, prophets can prophesy a prophecy, but they can't prophecy a prophesy.

Learn more in the online course, Grammar and Mechanics, from Writer's Digest University:

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