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I continue to hear people use the word, "preventative." I've always considered "preventive" to be correct. I consider the extra syllable in preventative to be superfluous. For example: With regard to medicine, we call it "preventive medicine," not preventative medicine. Which one is actually preferred in modern English?

marked as duplicate by sumelic, Davo, Laurel, David, NVZ Jul 8 '17 at 16:06

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preventive is the right word, because the verb is prevent, not preventate.

EDIT: On second thought, thanks to sumelic, the argumentation above is wrong. The usage of the -ive and -ative suffixes is inconsistent, cf. represent—representative. I can only recommend that you prefer preventive for its brevity and idiomaticity.

  • 1
    By this logic, rather than "imaginative" we should say "imaginive". – sumelic Jul 7 '17 at 19:54
  • @sumelic, I derive imaginative not from imagine but from imagination. – Ant_222 Jul 7 '17 at 19:56
  • What about "talkative", then? There's no "talkate" or "talkation". – sumelic Jul 7 '17 at 19:57
  • @sumelic, well-obeserved. My answer was hasty and ill-pondered. There must be a deeper rule governing the formation of adjectives from verbs, which I don't know—a law that prescribes the addition of at in talkative and proscribes it in preventive. I shall add this rule to my answer if I ever discover it. – Ant_222 Jul 7 '17 at 20:10
  • I just found this interesting answer from Sven Yargs at the linked question: english.stackexchange.com/a/139488/77227 Based on the information there, it seems to me that the prescriptivist preference for "preventive" is based on the forms of the related Latin words. – sumelic Jul 7 '17 at 20:16

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