‘Inter' vs 'Intra': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 7, 2023

‘Inter’ and ‘intra’ are considered prefixes, which usually come at the beginning of a sentence. But what does ‘inter’ and ‘intra’ mean? And what’s the difference between the two? We’ll discuss that in this article, plus you’ll learn the proper usage for both prefixes.

Don’t feel like skimming for the answer? Here’s the quick version. ‘Inter’ is used when referring to something ‘between’ two or more than two places or groups. ‘Intra’ is used when talking about something that’s happening ‘within’ the same group or place. 

‘Inter’ vs. ‘Intra’ – Find the Difference

As you just learned, ‘inter’ is a prefix that means between two groups, and ‘intra’ is a prefix that means within or inside of one group.

‘Intra’ and ‘Inter’ – How to Use Each Prefix Correctly

Wondering how to use both prefixes correctly?

Well, when you mean “between” two or more things, people, or groups, use ‘inter.’

When you mean “inside or within” one thing, person, or group, use ‘intra.’

Take a look at some examples.

  • An interstate is a highway that goes between different states
  • An intramural is a series of games held within or inside your school against other teams from the same school.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Inter’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘inter’ is: “to deposit (a dead body) in the earth or in a tomb,” “between: among: in the midst,” “reciprocal,” “located between,” “carried on between,” “occurring between,” “intervening,” “shared by, involving, or derived from two or more,” “between the limits of: within,” and “existing between.”

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Bury
  • Inhume
  • Tomb
  • Entomb
  • Lay
  • Hearse
  • Put away

Definition and Meaning of ‘Intra’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘intra’ is: “within,” “during,” “between layers of,” and “intro.”

Now that we’re a bit more familiar with both prefixes let’s see how to use them as part of words in a sentence.

How to Use ‘Inter’ Correctly

  • I got an interoffice email from my boss at headquarters this morning. I wonder what it’s about.
  • I was just about to intercept the ball, but I got clobbered by another player I didn’t even see coming.
  • There was way too much traffic at the intersection this morning. I thought I’d see an accident for sure.
  • The internet is full of trolls, and that’s exactly why I don’t do social media.
  • There’s an accident on the interstate. I’d take another route if I were you.

How to Use ‘Intra’ Correctly

Here’s how to use ‘intra’ correctly in a sentence as part of a word.

  • I’m staying after school for intramural basketball. It’s always so much fun.
  • I realize I missed the intracompany picnic over the weekend. I had plans already.
  • We lost to our intrastate rivals, The Knights, last week.
  • Bailey inserted an intracardiac shunt last year, but it may need to be replaced now.
  • We planned on performing an intravenous procedure on the patient.

Concluding Thoughts on ‘Inter’ vs. ‘Intra’

Now that you know the difference between these prefixes and the meaning of both, you can use them both correctly in a sentence. You’ll recognize what they mean when attached to words, at least to some degree. Use the above examples to help guide you as you form your own sentences.

If you get stuck, don’t be afraid took bookmark the page and come back whenever you need to.

We’ve got an entire library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language (and there are a lot!). So, pop on back over anytime.

We’ve also got content that can help you write better. Go check it out.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

Add new comment

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

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.