One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
fore- or for-?
If you're wondering whether to spell a word with for- or fore-, it's helpful to think about the meaning of the word you have in mind.
Words beginning with for-
- for- is generally added to words to convey the meaning of ‘banning’, ‘neglecting’, ‘doing without’, or ‘giving up’. For example:
forbid = ‘refuse to allow’
forbear = ‘stop yourself from doing something’
forfeit = ‘give something up’
- for- is much less common than fore-. Here are some common words that begin with for-:
forgive; forgiveness; forlorn; forbearance; forget; forgetful; forsake; forswear; forgo.
Words beginning with fore-
- fore- is used when the meaning is ‘before’, ‘in advance’, or ‘in front of’. It's used to form words such as forecourt (= an open area in front of a building) or forecast (= say what will or might happen in the future).
There are far more words beginning with fore- than those beginning with for-. Here are some of the most common:
forefront; foresight; forearm; foreman; foreboding; foregone; forename; forestall; foreground; foretaste; forerunner; forehead; foretell; foresee; forethought; forefather; foreshadow; forewarn; forefinger; foreshore; foreword.
There are some words beginning with for- and fore- that sound identical when they’re spoken and this can understandably cause confusion. For example, to forbear means to ‘stop yourself from doing something’ while a forebear is an ancestor. If you’re in any doubt about which spelling to use, always check in a dictionary.
Back to spelling.
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