Pray or Prey?

Our most common search themes:
apostrophe
semicolon
adjective
verb


What is the difference between pray and prey?

To pray means to address God or an object of worship (to say a prayer)

To prey on means to hunt for (verb).
Prey is the object of an attack (noun).

Pray and Prey

Occasionally, there is confusion over the words pray and prey. This most commonly occurs with the following terms:
  • Pray to God
  • Fall prey to
  • Pray tell
  • Pray on (a mat)
  • Prey on (a deer)

Pray

The word pray is a verb which means to address God or another deity or object of worship. In other words, it means to say a prayer.

Examples:
  • Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man. (Francis Cardinal Spellman, 1889-1967)
  • You should pray for a sound mind in a sound body. (Juvenal, AD 55-127)

Prey

The word prey can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, to prey on something means to hunt for something, or to exploit something (usually a person). As a noun, prey is the thing being hunted or exploited.

Examples:
  • Skuas like to prey on Cape Petrel eggs, but Cape Petrels will aggressively defend their nests by ejecting stomach oil at intruders.
  • As well as having a keen sense of smell and being able to feel vibrations, sharks can see well (even at night), so they never have trouble finding their prey.
PRAYING MANTIS NOT PREYING MANTIS

A praying mantis is named after the way it holds its hands in a prayer position. Of course, it preys on its victims, but that's not where its name comes from.
 
 


More Free Help...

All the lessons and tests on Grammar Monster are free. Here's some more free help:

Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Facebook
by Craig Shrives Follow us on Google+
mail tip Sign up for our daily tip emails
Chat about grammar Ask a grammar question
Search Search this site

Buy Some Help...

Too busy to read everything on Grammar Monster? Here are the paid services we recommend to learn grammar and to keep your writing error free:

Paste your text into Grammarly's online interface for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Press F2 while using Word, PowerPoint, etc., for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Send your text to a trained editor and grammar geek for checking. (Free trial available)

Learn English (or another language) with a state-of-the-art program. (Free trial available)

Buy Our Book...

Buy "Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision" by Craig Shrives (founder of Grammar Monster).


More info...