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.
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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.

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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.)

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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