Pray vs. Prey: Difference, meaning & examples

Pray and Prey | Meaning, Examples & Difference

Pray vs Prey: What makes them different?

In the English language, there are many words that often sound the same or nearly the same. In such cases, it can be difficult to understand what is meant, and you may misunderstand your conversation partner. In general, words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings are called homophones. Today, we’ll look at the words “pray” [preɪ] and “prey” [preɪ]. These two words are pronounced the same, but they have completely different meanings and uses. Therefore, the words “pray” and “prey” are homophones in English. Briefly, they mean the following:

  • Pray (to pray) – this is a verb that means to address God or another higher power with a request, thanks, or to express worship.
  • Prey (victim) – this is a noun that can mean the victim of a trap, for example when one animal hunts another.

They are often confused due to their identical pronunciation, but it is important to pay attention to the context in order to use these words correctly. Let’s look at these words in more detail in order to understand their meanings and always comprehend what is being said in a sentence.

Pray – meaning and usage

The word “pray” in English is used as a verb and has several meanings:

  • In a religious context – to address God or another higher power with a request, thanks, or to express worship.
    • She knelt and prayed silently.
    • Let us pray for the victims of this terrible disaster.
  • As an expression of hope – to express a strong hope for something.
    • We’re praying for good weather for tomorrow’s game.
    • I prayed that she wouldn’t discover my secret.

Grammatically, “pray” can be used with different forms of words, depending on the context: “pray”, “prayed”, “praying”.

Examples of sentences with “pray”:

  • I pray every night before going to bed for peace and happiness.
  • Before a presentation, take a moment to pray for confidence and calmness.
  • Pray for understanding and clarity before attending difficult lectures.
  • They pray every evening before dinner.
  • She prayed for her friend’s quick recovery.

Prey – meaning and usage

The word “prey” in English can be used as a noun or a verb with different meanings:

As a noun:

  • Victim (animal):
    • The lioness stalked her prey in the tall grass.
  • Victim (human):
    • The scammer found an easy prey in the elderly man who was not familiar with internet banking.
  • Spoils or trophy:
    • The soldiers displayed the captured flags as prey of war.

As a verb:

  • To hunt:
    • Owls prey on mice and other small rodents.
  • To exploit or take advantage of:
    • Unscrupulous marketers often prey on consumers’ fears to sell security systems.
  • To trouble or worry:
    • The thought of failing the exam began to prey upon her mind.

Examples of sentences with “prey”:

  • The kestrel pounced on its prey.
  • He was easy prey for the two con men.
  • Small birds that prey on insect pests.
  • This is a mean type of theft by ruthless people preying on the elderly.
  • The problem had begun to prey on my mind.

Origin of the word “prey”

The word “prey” derives from the Middle English word also meaning spoils taken in war. The noun comes from Old French “preie”, from Latin “praeda” – booty, plunder. The verb comes from Old French “preier”, based on Latin “praedari” – to take as plunder, from “praeda”.

Key differences between “pray” and “prey”

The word pray is a verb, and it means to address God or any spirit or deity that is the object of worship:

  • The mother is praying for her son to recover from his illness.
  • The tribe prayed to the gods for rain.

The noun form is a prayer (referring to the words you say when you talk to God).

The word prey is a noun, meaning an animal that is hunted or caught for food. If a lion attacks and eats a zebra, the zebra is the prey (the lion is called a predator). Mice and rats are prey for animals like snakes and owls. We also have the phrasal verb, to prey on someone/something – this means to exploit or take advantage of them in a cruel, vicious way. For example, criminals who run scams often prey on old people and trick them into sending the criminals their money. People who run human trafficking operations prey on young women who are looking for better job opportunities in another country.

So, the difference between “pray” and “prey” lies in their meanings and usage. “Pray” is used to express a prayer, spirituality, and addressing a deity, while “prey” describes an animal that is hunted or someone who becomes a victim. Now that you understand these distinctions, you will use these words correctly in your speech.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!