You receive an invitation to a biannual event, but wait: Does that mean you’ll be invited again in six months, or will you have to wait two years? Or is that biennial? One of these words means one thing, and one the other, but which is it?
Biannual vs. Biennial: Comparing the Frequency and Meanings
Comparing the Meanings of Biannual and Biennial
While only two letters separate biannual and biennial, the difference in time is much bigger. The prefix bi- means two, so whenever you see bi- you know you are dealing with something that occurs twice.
biannual - twice a year
biennial - every two years
How to Use Biannual in a Sentence
Annual is a word of Latin origin that means “yearly” or “occurring every year,” so biannual means “twice yearly.”
I’m a contributing writer for a biannual journal.
You should schedule your biannual dentist appointment.
Our biannual meeting is on Thursday.
Biennial Meaning and Usage
The Latin term ennial means “yearly.” Therefore, biennial means “every two years” or “every other year.”
Senators are up for election biennially.
Preparations are underway for the biennial event.
They reviewed the biennial budget.
What About Other Bi- Words?
In addition to biannual and biennial, there are several other bi- terms like biweekly, bimonthly and biyearly. This can get confusing because depending on the context, bi- in these instances can mean “every two” or “occurring twice.”
biweekly - twice a week or every two weeks
bimonthly - twice a month or every two months
biyearly - twice a year or every two years
How to Remember the Difference
Biannual and biennial are understandably easy to mix up. They look and sound similar; they have the same prefix, and they only differ by two letters. A good way to remember their respective meanings is that ennial and every both begin with “e,” so you can associate that with “every other year.” Additionally, annual begins with an “a” and means “yearly.” You can also associate annual with “anniversary,” which is something that occurs once a year and also begins with an “a.”