Bi- vs Semi-

The English prefixes bi- and semi- are often mixed up by native speakers. A semi-annual reading of this lesson will help more than a bi-annual one: Bi- vs Semi-

Topics: English language

4 thoughts on “Bi- vs Semi-

  1. Don DuBois says:

    Hi Laura,

    Love the pcitures from Costa Rica, but are the noseeums around 24 hours a day … or just part of the day?

    I remembered talking about the meaning of the word biannual with a friend a few years ago, and we were surprised to find it means, “twice yearly”! (ref. ).

    Don’t know how to make sense out of that. I also looked it up in the Webser’s Collegiate with the same result.


  2. Hmm, maybe that’s a case of it being misused so often that the wrong meaning becomes the right one?

    No-see-ums are just active at dawn and dusk.

  3. Leslie says:

    Nope, not a case of repeated improper use. Biannual has always meant semiannual – twice a year. Biennial, however, means once every two years. Your link correctly refers to biennial and semiannual, but neglects to mention the confusing biannual. In your note above, then, you’re saying the same thing. What you meant to say was: “a semiannual reading of this will help more than a biennial one.”

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