eminent vs. imminent

Prepare for your brain to grow…the arrival of new grammar knowledge is now imminent!

As is the case with many words that sound similar, it can be hard for students and novice writers to figure out when to use eminent vs. imminent. But fear not! This will all be cleared up for you very soon…imminently, in fact.

Let’s start with basic definitions to help separate imminent and eminent for you: Imminent means that something is about to happen very, very soon. Eminent is frequently used to describe someone who is highly respected or something that is highly prominent or noteworthy. To clarify further, let’s dive into some examples.

Eminent vs. Imminent Examples

To start, we’ll look at a few sentences using eminent in various ways. Remember that eminent means remarkable, noteworthy, or prominent.

  1. Albert Einstein is known today as one of history’s greatest scientists, but he wasn’t always eminent in his field.
  2. Before becoming an eminent television personality, Bill Nye was a mechanical engineer.
  3. Most houses on the block were very small, so the enormous mansion appeared all the more eminent in the neighborhood.

Now we’ll look at a few examples of imminent, which means “about to happen”:

  1. When the air raid alarm sounded, the villagers knew that a bombing was imminent.
  2. Horror movies use spooky sounds and music to create tension, which makes audiences feel like a scare is imminent.
  3. When a thunderstorm is imminent, you’ll know it from the dark, swirling clouds.

Other Ways You Might Be Imminently Confused by Eminent

You might have heard the word preeminent as well, which can add to the imminent vs. eminent confusion. Preeminent is indeed related to eminent, though it has a slightly different meaning. It denotes something that has supreme importance in its category, something that is the ultimate example. Here are two examples:

  1. Until his death, Stephen Hawking was the preeminent scientist in his field.
  2. Law and Order is the preeminent example of procedural police TV dramas.

Now that you have some definitions and examples to work with, I hope you feel like you have greater mastery of the imminent vs. eminent question. You might even be on your way to becoming the preeminent grammatical expert among your peers!

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