Difference Between Inspire and Aspire

Main Difference – Inspire vs Aspire

Inspire and aspire are two words that often confuse English learners. Although both these verbs have somewhat similar meanings, there is a clear cut difference between inspire and aspire. Inspire means to motivate, influence, encourage or stimulate someone to do something.  Aspire means to desire, aim or hope for something. This is the main difference between inspire and aspire. The same difference can also be seen between the nouns of these two verbs, inspiration and aspiration; inspiration is similar to motivation whereas aspiration is similar to ambition.

This article covers,

1. What Does Inspire Mean? – Definition, Grammar, Meaning and Usage

2. What Does Aspire Mean? – Definition, Grammar, Meaning and Usage

3. Difference Between Inspire and Aspire – Comparison of Grammar and Meaning

Difference Between Inspire and Aspire - Inspire vs Aspire Comparison Summary

What Does Inspire Mean

The Oxford dictionary defines inspire as “fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative” and the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines inspire as “to make (someone) want to do something: to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create”. The noun of inspire is inspiration. Inspire is synonymous with the verbs motivate, stimulate, encourage, etc. We are always inspired by an external source. This source can be people, books, movies, songs, sayings, speeches, paintings, stories, etc. Nature can also inspire us. For example, an artist might create a painting after being inspired by nature.

Given below are some sentences that contain the verb inspire. You can observe the meaning and usage of it in the following sentences.

This novel was inspired by her childhood.

Her story inspired many young girls.

His love for reading inspired him to write.

This groundbreaking discovery will inspire many generations of scientists.

You might have noticed from the above examples that inspire is a transitive verb (transitive verbs are the verbs that require an object).

Difference Between Inspire and Aspire

She was inspired by the Classics.

What Does Aspire Mean

The Oxford dictionary defines aspire as “direct one’s hopes or ambitions towards achieving something” and the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines inspire as “to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal”. The noun form of aspire is aspiration. Aspiration is something internal; it refers to inner hope and ambition. Aspiration is our own desire to reach a particular goal.  

Aspire is an intransitive verb. This means that they do not require an object. You can observe the meaning and usage of aspire in the following sentences.

He aspires to be a doctor.

Kate aspires to be like her mentor.

Those who aspire to a career in education can apply for this course.

He aspired to be a great poet.

Main Difference - Inspire vs Aspire

He aspired to be a doctor.

Difference Between Inspire and Aspire


Inspire: Inspire refers to the act of making someone want to do something.

Aspire: Aspire refers to the desire or ambition to have or achieve something.

Internal vs External

Inspire: Inspiration comes from an external source.

Aspire: Aspiration comes from an internal source; it is our inner desires and aims.

Type of Verb

Inspire: Inspire is a transitive verb.

Aspire: Aspire is an intransitive verb.

Image Courtesy: 

Image 1 via (Public Domain)

Image 2 via (Public Domain)

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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