Is “Pro” Positive or Negative? – Strategies for Parents

Is “Pro” Positive or Negative?

There are several ways you can express your positive feelings or share your favor for something. In English, you might hear someone say that a person is “pro” something when weighing opposing sides of an argument. When torn between two options, you might also weigh the “pros and cons” of the situation, so is “pro” positive or negative?

“Pro” is a positive term that refers to the advantages in a situation when weighed against an opposing option. By using “pro” as an adjective or adverb to express support, it is a positive descriptor. When using “pro” as a preposition, we state our affirmation for something. Its meaning is similar as a prefix, but we can also use the prefix “pro” to mean “prior to” or “in front of.”

It is important to know the proper vocabulary when expressing your feelings to ensure that others understand your opinion. This article will discuss why “pro” is a positive term, its meaning and root, and how you can use it in writing and conversation. 

What Does “Pro” Mean?

Lexicographers define the noun “pro” as an argument showing favor toward something. It represents the affirmative side of a debate while showing positive intentions or support for a concept. You can use “pro” when lending support for or belief in a proposition. 

“Pro” generally demonstrates a favorable opinion, although as a prefix, it can also represent prior occurrences. We often use “pro” in the context of “pros and cons.” The opposite of “pro” is “con” or “anti,” meaning that you feel negative about an idea or do not support the argument (source).

“Pro” as a Prefix

As a prefix, pro- often means to show a preference for a proposition or idea. This comes from the sense of the prefix pro- as in “on behalf of” or “for.” It is a common prefix in the English language, particularly when we’re discussing our stance on a topic to show favor. 

However, pro- can also mean “forward,” “prior to,” or “taking the place of.” For example, the word “professional” comes from “profession,” derived from the Latin root meaning “forth” in the sense of coming forward to make a confession or declaration.

This originally referred to religious orders, but it came to mean making a profession of your skill in an occupation.

Is “Pro” for or Against Something?

Again, most often, using “pro” in a sentence expresses favor. In this sense, it is largely synonymous with the preposition “for.” When you are for something, or pro- it, you raise that opinion to the forefront of your positive favor. 

Including comparisons, such as you would when creating a pros-and-cons list, reinforces your support of a topic. For example, you can say that you are “pro-smoothies” to emphasize your love for smoothies. 

To express that you are against something, use “con” or “anti.” For example, you can say you are “anti-smoothies,” showing your dislike of smoothies.

The following table presents a comparison of using either “pro” or “for” in a sentence interchangeably. Notice the meaning of the sentence doesn’t change. 

ProorFor
I am pro-cheese on burgers.orI am for cheese on burgers.
I am pro living in the woods.orI am for living in the woods.
I am pro-Apple products if the new iPhone comes with a charger.orI am for Apple products if the new iPhone comes with a charger.

Whichever word you use, “pro” or “for,” both express positive connotations. 

Where Does “Pro” Come From?

“Pro” comes from the Latin prō, meaning “in favor of,” although it can mean “prior to,” “forward,” or “in the place of” less often. “Pro and con” is short for pro and contra, with the Latin root being pro et contra. This idiom means “for and against” (source). 

When we are “pro” in a situation or standing for something, we support it positively. “Pro” is an affirmation when describing favor of or on a topic.

“Pro” exists in several English phrases with Latin roots to represent positive actions. 

Pro bono” means that a lawyer works “for” someone else by providing free legal consultation in pursuit of the common good. You will find that many use this Latin phrase often in modern-day English. 

Quid pro quo” is a phrase we might use to represent performing a positive action for someone else while they exchange a positive experience for you in turn. Again, in this case, “pro” is typically a favorable term (source).

However, in this case, the phrase as a whole can have a negative connotation when someone applies it to officeholders who use their positions to make corrupt deals.

How to Use “Pro” in a Sentence

“Pro” is an incredibly helpful word when describing positive emotion. You can use “pro” in everyday conversation when stating if you are for or against something or describing your reason for a belief or action. It is also acceptable to use in professional or formal settings with consistent language. 

While it may seem strange to use “pro” rather than a word such as “support” or “benefit,” stating that you are “pro” something clearly illustrates your opinions and positive intentions. 

For another instance of positive reinforcement and agreement in the English language, check out our article, “Most Definitely: Possible Ways to Meaningfully Use the Phrase.”

Here are some examples of sentences using “pro” as a prefix as well as the idiom “pros and cons.”

As a Noun and Prefix

In the following sentence, we know that better battery life is a desire for all phone users. As a noun, the “pro” in this situation is a positive technological development. 

Improved battery life is a pro to purchasing a new phone.

In this situation, we see the comparison between “pro” and “anti,” emphasizing “pro” as the positive option compared to the negative option. This is common in political discourse, where someone is either for or against something.

Are you pro-American or anti-American?

As a Preposition

In this sentence, the speaker describes their positive feelings toward apple pie by using “pro” as a preposition. We could just as easily swap it out for the preposition “for.”

I am pro apple pie.
I am for apple pie.

As an Adverb

In the following situation, “pro” represents the positive side of going to school. Here, it functions as an adverb modifying the verb “outlined.” The speaker receives an education that positively impacts their learning, so this is a “pro” of schooling. 

Much about attending college was outlined pro and con.

As an Adjective

As an adjective, “pro” is an abbreviation for the noun “professional,” but it can also function as an adjective to describe a high level of skill. The following sentence displays how “pro” describes basketball as a career.

He played pro basketball. 

How to Use “Pro” in Decision-Making

“Pros and cons” come into play while weighing decisions. Using the phrase “pro and con” in decision-making is standard in the English language. The first known use of the phrase “pros and cons” goes back to the 16th century.

It may feel overwhelming to look at a complex argument and try to accurately and adequately express your feelings on the subject. By making a list of “pros,” you can clearly state what you support and understand the advantages of your decision. 

When weighing options, we use “pros” to describe positives while using cons to describe negatives. 

The idiom “pro and con” compares the advantages and disadvantages of something with the intention to aid in the decision-making process. When making decisions, it is very helpful to list the positive and negative outcomes (source).

With a list of “pros and cons,” you are able to examine your reasons for or against doing something or for not performing the action.

Check out our article “I Look Forward to Speaking With You: Proper Grammar and Usage” to find more examples of ways to share your positive intentions in the English Language eloquently.

Conversation

When saying that you are “pro” something, you make your positive feelings present in a conversation. By creating a list with the beneficial side of an argument, you can display the potentially favorable outcomes. 

During the course of a conversation, stating the “pros and cons” helps others see the reasoning behind your positive feelings. We use “pros” to help make decisions that will positively impact a person moving forward (source). 

By including “pros and cons” in your elective process, you can ensure that you make informed decisions and have the proper vocabulary to convey your emotions to those around you. 

This language is constructive in the workplace or other professional settings. Laying out the options you have when making an important decision shows others that you carefully consider your opinions and theirs. 

Using “Pro and Con” Lists

While outlining your options prior to making a decision, “pros” represent the positive elements of choice. Making a list is helpful when trying to thoroughly understand the potential outcomes. Plus, when you write a comprehensive list, you don’t need to rely on your memory. 

This method visibly shows you whether a situation will have more positive or more negative outcomes. An option that has more pros than cons has a greater chance for a positive outcome, so it is likely the better choice.

Below is an example of listed “pros and cons,” with the left side of the chart being the “pros,” or affirmative effects, and the right side being the “cons,” or adverse effects of waking up early on a daily basis. 

Pros of Waking Up EarlyCons of Waking Up Early
Feel refreshed in the morningFeel tired at an earlier time
Get more work doneAdjust to a new schedule
Spend more time doing tasks you enjoyRisk missing late-night events
Enjoy off-peak activities in smaller crowdsMiss out on group gatherings
More time to enjoy breakfastSpend mornings alone if others sleep in

From this table, we see that the person making the decision might prefer to wake up early and enjoy the advantages of changing their schedule. The benefits positively outweigh the drawbacks. 

This method is a great analysis tool needing only a pen and paper or computer with word processing. One can quickly and clearly show all opinions and objectives.

What to Say Instead of Pro

There are various ways you can state your support for something. Although “pro” is a shorter term than many of the alternatives, it’s still acceptable in formal writing and speech. However, it is helpful to know synonyms that you can use while expressing your positive opinion.

Pros vs. Cons  

“Advantage” represents a favorable position, similar to “pro.” Its antonym is “disadvantage” or “con,” so you can use “advantages vs. disadvantages” in place of “pros vs. cons.” 

Another way to restate your positive feelings in a “pro vs. con” situation is by presenting the “benefits vs. drawbacks.” A benefit is something that promotes well-being and is a synonym for “pro” as a noun. 

If you want to express different ways of decision-making, so here are some further alternatives for “pros and cons”:

I weighed the benefits and drawbacks of the proposal.
There are many gains and losses that come with that plan.
This option has numerous opportunities and obstacles.
My company is measuring its strengths and weaknesses.

Synonyms as a Preposition

Since we most often use “pro” as a preposition and as part of a prepositional phrase, we have included some sentences with synonyms for “pro” such as “for” and “in favor of.” This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

I am for a day at the beach.
I am in favor of waking up early.
Some of us are for going to the beach, while others are against it.
I’m in favor of going to bed at 9 pm and against going to bed at 10 pm.

Final Thoughts

“Pro” almost always has a positive connotation, either stating your support for something or the priority of something. As a noun, it means a benefit, or it can be an abbreviation for “professional.” The same abbreviation can function as an adjective to describe proficiency at something.

It is a great way to express positive emotion and state that you favor something. With “pro” in your vocabulary, you will have concise conversations that clearly say what you feel without complication. 

Dr. Patrick Capriola

Dr. Patrick Capriola is the founder of strategiesforparents.com. He is an expert in parenting, social-emotional development, academic growth, dropout prevention, educator professional development, and navigating the school system. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Florida in 2014. His professional experience includes serving as a classroom teacher, a student behavior specialist, a school administrator, and a coordinator of educator training at UF - providing professional development to school administrators and teachers, helping them learn to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of students. He is focused on growing strategiesforparents.com into a leading source for high-quality research-based content to help parents work through the challenges of raising a family and progressing through the school system.

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