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Input or Imput: Which Is Correct?

It’s a Friday morning, and you’re ready to begin the weekend when your boss walks in and says, “I need you to ‘imput’ these numbers before Monday.” But if “imput” isn’t a word, does that really count as a request?

“Imput” is a commonly misused spelling and pronunciation of the word “input.” “Input” refers to the act of putting something in, most commonly concerning a data process or other function. In this case, it functions as a verb. As a noun, it refers to the data that you enter. “Imput” is not a word, despite what many think to the contrary.

The thing is, you probably have heard the word “imput.” Many people pronounce “input” as “imput,” and many think it’s a variant. However, it isn’t. Still, we’re going to break down the nuances of “input” and exactly how you should use it in your writing.

Understanding the Difference Between Input and Imput

Again, there is no such word as “imput.” If someone pronounces the word as “imput,” (with an m), they simply meant to say “input.”

“Input” has several meanings, which we’ll break down further in this article, but the most common definition is to add something. 

However, the word “impute” does exist. Its meaning is entirely separate from “input,” however. “Impute” means to assign blame to someone or assign a value to something, depending on its usage.

There are many commonly misspelled words. One of these is “weird.” To double-check your spelling and understand the rules of “ei” versus “ie,” check out “Weird or Wierd: Which is Correct?”

History and Etymology of the Word “Input”

English derived “input” from the Middle English word “inputten,” which means to insert (source). Initially, you could only use it as a verb. “Input” contains the adverb “in” and the verb “put,” simply explained as the action of putting in.

In the 1700s, the word shifted in its meaning to include the noun form. The word’s definition remained the same, but it also referred to the actual object or idea inserted in order to obtain a desired outcome or result.

As technology advanced, the meaning of the word changed again. “Input” now relates mostly to computer technology and is a common word within that lexis. Since all types of technology generally need input before functioning, this makes perfect sense.

Whether the word will change again in the future remains to be seen. 

How to Use the Word Input: Different Meanings

“Input” is the correct form of the word that refers to energy, money, or any type of information inserted into something to get it to function (source). Moreover, “input” is related to the idea of adding something to get a specific result.

Examples:

  • I had a lot of input on the project.
  • The electricity input has been significant.
  • Her email gave them the input they needed, and they were ready to begin.

As a Connection

The other noun form of “input” refers to the actual place where you might connect something or an object that carries information. In this scenario, “input” is often related to technology.

Examples:

  • The mouse input isn’t working, and I can’t click anything!
  • You put the wire in the wrong input.
  • To plug in the flash drive, insert it into the USB input.

Another variation of the noun form relates to giving advice or information.

Examples:

  • He needed her input on this critical project.
  • Mary knew what she was doing but needed some input from her friends.
  • John’s input in their business plan was vital for its success.

As a Verb

As a verb, “input” refers to the process of inserting information, energy, or money into an object to allow it to function.

Examples:

  • I spent my whole morning inputting data into this spreadsheet.
  • After I’ve inputted these sales figures, we’ll know how we did this quarter.
  • Inputting this information is such a pain, but we need it to treat the patients.

As mentioned previously, “imput” is not a real word but a mispronunciation. If someone tells you to “imput” something, then it’s safe to assume that the intended meaning is the same as “input,” and you can act accordingly.

Another commonly misspelled word related to technology is “laptop.” Make sure you check out our article “Labtop or Laptop: Which One Is Correct?” for the correct spelling and why someone might make such a mistake.

Inputting or Imputting: Which is Correct?

“Inputting” functions as the present participle, and “inputted” is the past participle form. 

In your writing, you’ll use a present participle to create continuous tenses and generally end with -ing. When you use the word “inputting,” it indicates that an action is currently taking place. For example, “I am inputting the data shows us that the person is busy with this task.

Here is another example: “He is responsible for inputting the data, and my job is to analyze it.” In this, the use of “inputting” indicates present tense but does not indicate that the work is currently happening.

We might use “inputted” to indicate that an event has already taken place. For example, “The company inputted my home address incorrectly, and my package got lost.” The writer is telling us about this situation after it had taken place.

Here is another example, “The system can tell when something has been inputted twice, and it removes the second entry.” In this form, the word “been” indicates that what follows is in the past participle form.

In British English, there is a common trend of repeating the final consonant when changing the tense of a verb. American English generally ignores this unnecessary repetition, but “inputting” is one exception to this rule.

Since English generally removes the “e” at the end of a word when changing its tense form, some words have to take a double consonant to maintain their meaning and pronunciation.

Imputing

We already know that the word “impute” exists, so its continuous tense form is “imputing.” Despite American English preferring simplified single consonants, the double “t” at the end of “input” makes perfect sense for its participle form.

“Imputting” or “imputted” can never be correct as they are the incorrect version of “input.” Any usage would not be grammatically accurate. 

Still, some people find the usage of “inputted” to sound stilted and awkward, so you can use a synonym like “entered” instead (source).

Synonyms for “Input”

The following are examples of synonyms that can replace the word “input” in a sentence.

When using “input” in the context of technology, you can use synonyms such as “enter,” “key in,” and “insert.” Instead of saying, “I have inputted the results into the machine,” another option is, “I have entered the results into the machine,” which sounds a little less stilted.

Other possible synonyms that can work for both the technological form of “input” and the more common verb form are words like “load” or “put in.”

Image by Glen Carrie via Unsplash

Commonly Mispronounced Words

The world has seen an exciting change in communication over the past few years. With Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat, along with a whole host of lesser-used social media, we have become used to communicating via video or audio. 

With that change, mispronunciations have increased significantly, such as “imput” instead of “input.” Mispronunciations of other words are also rife in our day-to-day vocabulary. 

Next, we’ll identify some of the most commonly mispronounced words to make your life easier. In our pronunciation guide, capital letters indicate stressed syllables.

Mispronounced Nouns

The word “arctic” tends to mix people up. Instead of pronouncing it ARC-tic, many people forgo the “c” sound and pronounce it as ART-ick. This common mispronunciation also applies to the word “antarctic.”

Many people call the word “cache” CASH-ey instead of the simple CASH when talking about computer storage. Both “cache” and “cachet” have French roots, but only “cachet” has two syllables.

Most people start their day with a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, a lot of them also go into Starbucks to order an EX-press-o. The word is “espresso,” and the focus is on the first syllable, ES.

In another case of the missing letter, “February” takes a beating. Some people ignore the first “r” of the word and pronounce it as FEB-u-ar-ee. However, its pronunciation is FEB-ru-ar-ee.

Another confusing French word is “forte.” British English speakers prefer FORT while Americans lean into the French pronunciation for-TAY, but most consider the British pronunciation the correct one.

The word “gif” split the internet due to its pronunciation. The term is an acronym for “graphics interchange format,” so it would make sense to pronounce it with a hard “g” sound. Unfortunately, the inventor of gifs, Steve Wilhite, insists that its pronunciation is JIF.

This mispronunciation has decreased with the spread of social media, but some people still make the mistake of pronouncing the word “meme” as ME-me or MAY-may. This source of endless humor is just MEEM.

Ironically, we often mispronounce the word “pronunciation.” Probably because the root word includes the word “noun,” we keep that in our incorrect version. The correct pronunciation is pro-NUN-see-a-shun.

Mispronounced Adjectives

Is it LIE-ble or LIE-a-ble? It depends on what you intend to communicate. If you refer to character assassination or negative assumptions about someone, it is libel (pronounced LIE-ble). If you refer to the word “liable,” then use the latter. 

Many often mistake these two for one another. 

Another mispronunciation that is similar to the “input/imput” issue is “irregardless.” A lot of people confuse the words “irrespective” and “regardless” to create this form. The correct and only structure of the word is “regardless,” and it sounds like RE-guard-less.

English is rife with silent letters, and while many people know not to pronounce the “k” in “knight,” many still pronounce the “t” in “often.” Despite the word originating from the English word “oft,” it is simply pronounced OFF-en.

The Oxford New Essential Dictionary is one of the best dictionaries available, and it is beneficial when you need a pronunciation guide. You can find it on Amazon, and it’s terrific when writing.

Why We Mispronounce Words

Word mispronunciation is a common thing, even for native English speakers (source). How many of you mispronounced Hermione’s name in the Harry Potter books until you heard it appropriately pronounced on-screen?

The most common reason for mispronunciation is having read a word before hearing it. Native speakers are less likely to struggle with this due to their exposure to spoken English and understanding language and pronunciation rules.

But that doesn’t mean we are immune from making mistakes. 

English relies heavily on context clues, especially when it comes to heterophones — these are words that have the exact spelling but different meanings and pronunciations. Mistakes are easy when reading.

In the case of “imput” and “input,” we mispronounce the word because “m” and “n” can sound very similar in some words. These mispronunciations can get to the point where people no longer notice the difference.

Another reason that we are likely to make pronunciation errors is that we stress the wrong syllable when speaking. If English is your second language, you are also more likely to over- or under-pronounce words by substituting syllables from your own language.

The fascinating thing about mispronunciations is that they can become the seemingly “correct” pronunciation if enough people mispronounce the word. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

Finally, we make pronunciation errors because someone may have taught us incorrectly. Even English teachers can make mistakes when it comes to proper pronunciation, such as one who taught her students that the pronunciation of the word “oxymoron” was OX-im-mirin. It is pronounced more simply as OX-ee-mor-ON. 

Final Thoughts

For many non-native English speakers who learn most often through reading rather than radio or television, mispronunciations are typical. Mispronunciations can also apply to many native speakers, and most have a “blind spot” for mispronounced words.

Mispronunciations are common, and we all do it, but you should never be ashamed to learn and grow.