If you’ve been learning the language for a while, you might have seen both ‘unkempt’ and ‘unkept.’ You might have also wondered which one is correct. Well, we’ll go over that in this article. Plus, you’ll learn how to use the correct spelling of the word in a sentence.
Need a short answer? Here it is:
Remember not to use these phrases interchangeably because they mean different things. Plus, one isn’t even used to describe people, so that wouldn’t make much sense.
The word ‘unkempt’ is very similar to ‘unkept,’ which is probably why a lot of people use them interchangeably, thinking that they mean the same thing.
The only difference between the words is an ‘m.’
However, ‘unkempt’ is typically used to describe a person, whereas ‘unkept’ is typically used to describe an object.
Their definitions are different too.
The former is an adjective that means ‘not well-combed.’ You might see it used to describe someone with messy hair or tattered clothing.
The latter is an adjective that means ‘not kept’ or ‘neglected.’
Someone’s house might be described as ‘unkept’ while the owner might be referred to as ‘unkempt.’ An ‘unkempt’ owner who lives in an ‘unkept’ house.
To use these words correctly, keep in mind that ‘unkempt’ is an adjective used for a person, and ‘unkept’ is for objects.
In the last section, we mentioned an ‘unkempt’ person in an ‘unkept’ house.
Use that to remember which is the correct spelling of the word you’re trying to use.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘unkempt’ as:
The same dictionary defines ‘unkept’ as:
The first known use of the word ‘unkept’ was in the 14th century, and it meant the same thing it means today.
Are you unsure of how to pronounce these words?
Here’s a quick guide.
To pronounce ‘unkempt’ correctly, check out the phonetic spelling:
To pronounce ‘unkept’ correctly, check out the phonetic spelling:
Now that we know what both words mean and how to pronounce them correctly, let’s see some examples of using them in a sentence.
To recap, we learned that:
If you want your writing to be the best it can be, remember not to use these phrases interchangeably because they mean different things. It wouldn’t make much sense.
If you ever get stuck on anything, feel free to come back and review what you learned. We’ve also got a ton of other content in our library on confusing words and phrases you might see while learning English. Go check it out anytime.
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