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Perform vs Preform? Differences And When To Use In Sentences

Perform vs Preform? Differences And When To Use In Sentences

“Perform” and “preform” are so similar in spelling that they often get mistaken for each other. However, these words are quite different and understanding this is important.

The meaning of the word “perform” is to carry out, accomplish, or fulfill an action, task, or function. “Preform” however is used in reference to a shape that something has before it’s been transformed into another form. It can also be used when referring to the mold design for something beforehand.

Why Understanding the Difference Between “Perform” and “Preform” Matters

It’s easy to get the words “preform” and “perform” confused. Unfortunately when you do get these two words confused this isn’t something that most word processing software programs will catch. This is because spell-checking is created to look for words that aren’t found in its dictionary. It isn’t programmed to look for words that resemble each other and are used incorrectly one in place of the other. These tools focus only on what you may have spelled wrong.

Automated spell-checking isn’t perfect. It’s not meant to guess what word you wanted to use or what word you meant to use. It’s only there to judge the words that you’ve written on the page. This means that if you use words that are spelled correctly, it’ll pass right over them even though you haven’t used them correctly.

Something similar happens when you use your word processing software’s autocorrect feature. It’s there to suggest words that start with the same letters.By making these suggestions it tries to help you save time. Unfortunately, though there are a lot of times when the suggestions it makes are actually quite off base. When this happens autocorrect isn’t going to help you at all. In fact, it may make it so that you get laughed at and obviously this isn’t helpful.

These are the two main reasons why it’s so important to understand the difference between the words “perform” and “preform.”

perform in the dictionary

When and How to Properly Use the Word “Perform”

Perform is a verb. This means that it is a word that conveys an action, occurrence, or state of being. The word “perform” means to showcase yours or someone else’s talents on stage. This can be in the form of acting, singing, dancing, or dramatic reading. The word “perform” can also mean to execute the numbered steps that belong to a procedure as in a list of tasks.

There’s also the word “performing” that’s the gerund form of the verb “perform.” This word indicates that you or someone else is doing the action or task. When you use the past tense of the word (performed) you’re indicating that something has already been presented, done, or enacted.

Etymology of the Word “Perform”

The word “perform” dates back to around 1300 when it was defined as carrying into effect, fulfilling, discharging, or carrying out something that was either demanded or required. From this word the Anglo-French derived the words “performer,” “parfonir,” and “performer.” These words meant to do, carry out, finish, or accomplish. This is because the word par means completely while the word “formir” means to provide. As such Church Latin combined the words into the compound “performo” – a word that meant “to form,” especially when something was completely formed.

The word “perform” is also used in a theatrical or musical sense. This sense of the word dates back to around 1600 when it was defined as to act or represent on a stage or to sing or render on a musical instrument. Unfortunately this word wasn’t commonly used like this until well into the Middle Ages. At that time it became much more popular than it is even now. Middle English also used the word “perform” to describe dreams that were coming true. In fact, there was even a saying that became popular during this time. It was, “performen muche time,” which loosely defined meant that one wishes another person “to live long.”

Throughout years other forms of the word “perform” have also come into being. These include “performed,” “performing,” and the lesser-known and used word “performable.”

definition sign on broken white paper

How to Properly Use “Perform” in a Sentence

Now that you have a better understanding of what the word “perform” means, it’s important to make sure you know how to properly use it in a sentence. With this in mind, here are some examples of sentences you could write using the word perform:

  • She enjoys performing a lot of different types of music so she isn’t pigeonholed into one set style.
  • Although the team was well trained, when it came time they simply weren’t able to perform.
  • When the band performs live, they take on a whole new persona.
  • When you’re creating characters for a new story, you shouldn’t be afraid to perform exaggerated gestures.
  • When an airplane reaches high airspeeds it will have sufficient aileron authority to be able to perform some really fast rolls.
  • In order to determine if a tumor is malignant or benign your doctor must perform a biopsy.
  • The way you dress for work will depend upon your personal preferences and the type of work you’ve been hired to perform.
  • The Blue Angels were able to perform a great aerial show even though it was cloudy outside.
  • The unique missions the Air Force is able to perform are thanks to the additional capabilities it’s been afforded.
  • The witches perform a mad dance before Lennox comes onto the scene to tell Macbeth that Macduff has finally fled to England.

When and How to Properly Use the Word “Preform”

The word “preform” is also a verb. However, it means something entirely different. This word has to do with an object that is being molded or shaped before it can be used or incorporated into something entirely different which is its final form.

You’ll find the word “preform” is most commonly used when you’re discussing construction. In this context raw materials are being “preformed” before they’re transformed into their final shape. Since this is more of a niche word, it isn’t as commonly used as the word “perform,” which is a word that’s often used in our common, everyday English language.

Etymology of the Word “Preform”

The word “preformed” means to have been “formed in advance” so that it can either be further prepared for something or so that it can be used in this new form. This word dates back to 1600 when the Latin word praeformare was used to mean pre+formed. You’ll rarely hear these words being used in English anymore unless you’re talking about plastic or synthetic products. The use of the word “preform” in this fashion dates back to 1918 when there was a need to find a word that meant “formed beforehand.”

This doesn’t mean that the term is no longer used today. It’s actually a very common term when you’re discussing construction. For instance, a simple search for preformed plastic will turn up a lot of results for preformed plastic ponds. Essentially these are liners that are inserted in the ground then filled with water to create a pond – hence they are preformed. This isn’t the only preformed fabric that is used in the construction industry though. Other preformed materials include foam materials and joint fixtures. So while this word isn’t commonly used in the English language anymore it is quite commonly used when referring to things in the construction niche.

How to Properly Use “Preform” in a Sentence

Knowing that the word “preform” isn’t commonly used in modern English unless you’re referencing construction materials makes it challenging to use this word in a sentence. Nonetheless, here are some examples of how you can do this:

  • One of the most popular methods by which this is accomplished incorporates casting a forging preform that’s created from a liquid metal.
  • One of the most expensive raw materials that’s used in the production of optical fibre is preform.
  • In order to be able to create the composite material you must apply a resin to the 3D preform.
  • Another one of the really common uses for the preforms is to create containers that are used in outdoor activities like geocaching.
  • Stone preforms are sometimes used here.
  • The plastic preform is commonly used in compression molding when it doesn’t contain any reinforcing fibres.
  • This procedure allows for kilometers of fiber to be produced from just one preform.
  • Sometimes preforms are used in creating diodes, components packaging, rectifiers, and optoelectronic devices.
  • You should know that it isn’t any easier to handle tufted preforms than it is to handle the unreinforced ones.

different shapes preforms of digital figures


Now that you understand that the words “perform” and “preform” have completely different meanings hopefully you won’t make the mistake of misusing them in the future. Seeing their different meanings and the way they are used in different types of sentences should help you with this. All that’s left is to watch your spell-checker on your word processing machine so that it doesn’t accidentally mix these words up on you too.