Aspire vs. Inspire

Aspire vs. Inspire

As with many words in the English language, aspire and inspire are often confused. They sound similar and they are spelled similarly, so this adds to the confusion around how they are used. These words do mean very different things, however, and you should aspire to use them correctly.

Aspire is a verb that means to aspire or have an ambition to reach or achieve something.

1. Jessica aspires to be a concert pianist.

2. What do you aspire to be when you are older?

3. Some days, I just aspire to mark off everything on my "to do" list.

4. The young soldier aspires to the office of general.

Inspire is a verb that means to fill with an urge to do something.

1. You inspire me to be a better student.

2. The basketball star said he was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his father.

3. The Olympic gold medalist inspired the audience with her tale of obstacles that had been overcome.

Notice that aspire is about something that happens internally-a person aspires to do something. It is an internal motivation. Inspire, on the other hand, is about something that happens externally-a person is inspired by someone or something else. It is an external motivation.

Note the difference in the sentences:

1. Martha aspires to be the best student in her class.

2. The teacher inspired Martha to be the best student in her class.

3. The football coach inspired Cory to keep working hard so he could play football in college.

4. Cory aspires to play football in college, so he works hard.

When you use aspire, you are focusing on the internal drive. When you use inspire, you are focusing on the external motivators.

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