There’s a lot of talk these days about how eating good food is like preventative medicine. Or is that preventive? Do these words mean the same thing? Are they both really words? Can you correct your grammar-challenged friend once and for all?
Let’s set this one straight. Both “preventive” and “preventative” actually date back to the 1600s, so it can be established that both are indeed words. “Preventive” came first, yet for centuries both have been used and accepted interchangeably. (Does this not irk anyone else out there who wants a simple, cut-and-dry answer?)
In both writing and speech, though, respected sources over the years have been known to favor “preventive.” “Preventative” is commonly used–yes, it’s everywhere–but really, it’s just adding in a superfluous syllable. And don’t you want every syllable you utter to count?