Impatient or Inpatient?

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The Difference between "Impatient" and "Inpatient"

"Impatient" and "inpatient" are easy to confuse because they sound so similar. However, their meanings are quite different.
  • "Impatient" describes someone who cannot wait for anything without becoming irritated.
    • The clowns will be on soon. Don't be impatient!
  • "Inpatient" refers to someone residing at the hospital awaiting care or a procedure.
    • The treatment takes three days. You will be treated as an inpatient.
impatient or inpatient?

More about "Impatient" and "Inpatient"

In English, there is often confusion over the spelling of the adjective "impatient." More specifically, some writers are unsure whether the prefix should be "im" or "in." This situation arises because "inpatient" is also a word.

More about "Impatient"

The adjective "impatient" is the opposite of "patient" (its antonym). "Impatient" means having a lack of patience. It describes a person who becomes restless or easily annoyed by simple mistakes or having to wait.

The noun form is "impatience."

Of note, the prefix "im" is a way of forming a word's antonym (i.e., its opposite). Confusion arises because adding the prefix "in" is a much more common way of forming an antonym (e.g., invalid, independent, insane).

Luckily, there are rules about forming these prefixes.
  • In- becomes im- before p, b, and m.
  • (For example: important, immature, and imbalanced)
  • In- becomes becomes ir- before r.
  • (For example: irrespective, irresponsible)
  • In- becomes becomes il- before l.
  • (For example: illegible, illegal)
Examples in sentences:
  • When someone is impatient and says, 'I haven't got all day,' I always wonder, 'How can that be? How can you not have all day?' (Comedian George Carlin)
  • Patience is the art of concealing your impatience. (Author Guy Kawasaki)
  • (Here, "impatient" is in its noun form.)

More about "Inpatient"

"An inpatient" is a noun. It refers to a patient who resides in hospital while under treatment. The opposite of "inpatient" is "outpatient."

"Inpatient" can also be an adjective in the following terms:
  • inpatient unit
  • inpatient care
  • inpatient ward
  • inpatient treatment
To avoid confusion with the adjective "impatient," "inpatient" is sometimes hyphenated (i.e., "in-patient").

Examples in sentences:
  • If you need to stay at the hospital overnight, it means you're being treated as an inpatient.
  • Many alcoholics require inpatient treatment for life-long, severe drinking problems.
  • (Here, "inpatient" is an adjective.)
Ready for the Test?
Here is a confirmatory test for this lesson.

This test can also be:
  • Edited (i.e., you can delete questions and play with the order of the questions).
  • Printed to create a handout.
  • Sent electronically to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? List of easily confused words