Preventative vs. Preventive: A Quick Comparison

You can't make a wrong decision when deciding between preventative vs. preventive because the two words mean the same thing and can be used the same way in sentences. Learn what these words mean and get examples of how to use them correctly.

preventative vs preventive examples preventative vs preventive examples

What Do Preventative and Preventive Mean?

Preventative and preventive can be used as nouns or adjectives. They refer to medications or treatments designed to keep someone from getting sick, or to actions taken to keep unwanted consequences from occurring. A person would use a preventive or preventative measure to avoid experiencing an unwanted outcome.

  • noun - When used as a noun, these words represent something that keeps something else from happening.
  • adjective - When used as an adjective, these words describe something that is used to keep something from happening.

Both words are commonly used in spoken and written English. Choosing between these terms is a matter of preference. The terms are often paired with the word measure (preventative measure, preventive measure).

Example Sentences Using Preventive and Preventative

Review a few sentences to get a sense of how these words can be correctly used. Keep in mind that, regardless of which word is used in one of the sample sentences, you could opt to use the other term instead.

  • My doctor said that I should take a statin drug as a preventative since I have a family history of heart disease.
  • I consider the time I spend exercising now as a preventive to avoid loss of flexibility later in life.
  • A freeze is possible tonight so I am going to cover my plants as a preventive measure.
  • The company took preventive measures to avoid losing customers to the new competitor.
  • I take my car to the mechanic for regular tune-ups as a preventative measure to avoid breakdowns.
  • I'm looking for a healthcare provider who emphasizes preventative medicine.
  • I go to the chiropractor regularly, as a preventive measure against back pain and related health problems.
  • I don't want to get influenza so I am taking the flu vaccine as a preventative measure.
  • Diabetes runs in my family, so I follow a low sugar diet as a preventive measure.
  • I plan to take Dramamine before the cruise leaves the dock, as a preventative against motion sickness.
  • My company might go out of business, so I am seeking a second job as a preventive measure to avoid unemployment.

Synonyms for Preventative and Preventive

There are several synonyms and other terms that can be substituted for preventative and preventive. Review YourDictionary's thesaurus for more common and unique options, as well as related words.

  • avoid
  • deterrent
  • keep from
  • ward off
  • inhibit
  • inhibitor
  • innoculate against
  • mitigation measure
  • precautionary
  • risk mitigation
  • risk reduction
  • thwart

Antonyms for Preventative and Preventive

It can help to consider opposite terms (antonyms) when trying to understand the meaning of a word. Antonyms for preventative and preventive are terms that indicate that something is being allowed to happen or is being done because something has already happened. For example, preventative or preventative care seeks to prevent illness, while diagnostic care seeks to identify what type of illness a person has.

  • acute care
  • allow
  • cure
  • encourage
  • in reaction to
  • in response to
  • permissive
  • react
  • reactionary
  • responsive
  • diagnostic
  • treatment

Interchangeable Words

While many similar words have different meanings, that is not the case with words like preventative vs. preventive or normalcy vs. normality. These words can be used interchangeably. Make sure you're prepared to deal with other similar words that mean different things, such as examples of homographs. Work through this commonly confused words worksheet to find out how skilled you are when it comes to telling the difference between words that are quite similar. Then explore other similar words like purposely vs. purposefully.