Preform vs. Perform: Comparing Meaning and Use

, Staff Writer
Updated November 5, 2021
Preform - Woman Pottery Casting Mug vs Perform - Classical ballet performed
    Preform - Woman Pottery Casting Mug vs Perform - Classical ballet performed
    Pottery: Highwaystarz-Photography / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Ballet: Artur Didyk / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

Do you perform in a play or preform in a play? Do you preform an opinion or perform an opinion? The arrangement of these letters can make all the difference because despite looking similar, these words have nothing to do with each other. Discover the differences between perform and preform, as well as their origins and uses.

Definitions Help You Remember the Difference

While spellcheck may lead you to believe that perform is the correct spelling, preform is a separate word with its own definition and usage.

  • preform (noun or verb) - something that is formed or made beforehand
  • perform (verb) - showcase a skill; carry out an action or task

How to Use Preform in a Sentence

Preform refers to something that has already been made or formed, typically an object in a particular shape or pattern. The term originates from the Latin word praeformare which means "pre+formed." While it is not the most common term in daily usage, preform is most commonly used in construction work. Additionally, PreForm is the name of a 3D printing software.

  • The pattern was preformed. (verb form; meaning "to form beforehand")
  • Add resin to the 3D preform. (noun form; meaning "an object in its original form before being molded")
  • The construction worker contacted a preform mold supplier. (adjective form; describes an object or supplier)

Meaning and Usage of Perform

The verb perform means "to carry out an action" or "to display one’s skills in something." The word perform comes from the Old French parfournir which is a combination of par (through) and fournir (furnish or provide).

  • If you perform well on the exam, you will get an A for the semester.

  • He performed in the play.

  • The singer gave an impressive performance.

Tips to Remember Preform vs. Perform

You can remember the difference between the words because preform is related to preliminary, which indicates an event or action that comes before another or something that is done for preparation or introduction. They also both have the prefix pre- which means "before." On the other hand, the prefix per- means "through." You can think of "we ran through the performance" to remember this.


Learn to Tell Words Apart

Sometimes getting the arrangement of letters wrong or adding or dropping a syllable can completely change the word. That is why it is important to memorize their spellings and definitions. Explore other commonly confused prefixes such as intra- and inter- or hypo- and hyper-.