I play kickball on a league in Denver, and if you haven’t tried playing this playground game as a grown-ass man/woman, I highly recommend it. We’re trying something different for the fall season and playing cup-in-hand, which, for those who are not familiar, is kickball with a solo cup of beer in your hand at all times. It makes catching balls much more challenging. I was talking about my team with someone this past weekend, and they asked, “Oh, it’s like intramural kickball?” I said yes, although it is weird to hear someone use the word intramural outside of college.

Also, it’s definitely intramural, not intermural. But what’s the difference?

Intramural Kickball

Photo by James on Gravity

Defining Intra- and Inter-

The prefix intra- means “within”, while inter- means “between” or “among”. The word intramural literally means “within walls”, and refers to things that occur within the walls of a school, or things that are self-contained. On the other side, the word interstate in reference to a highway refers to a road that goes between states.

Interstates maintain the same highway number across the country because they are connecting the states. If you made reference to an intrastate highway, that road would go by a name or number that only residents of that state would be familiar with. The word international refers to something that happens between countries; international travel is when you move from one country to another.

What’s the Difference Between Inter- and Intra?

One example that might be most evident to a lot of people would be the example of intranet vs. internet. The internet, as I think we’re all aware, covers the globe, and anyone with a connection can access it from anywhere in the world. An intranet, on the other hand, is only accessible to a certain group of people, usually from the same company.

My office has an intranet where we can access the company newsletter and place lunch orders for eachFriday, but most of our daily work takes place on the internet.

It can be tough to distinguish the two prefixes, especially when saying them out loud gets confusing, but remembering whether the word is referring to something self-contained or something bridging gaps can help sort through that spelling dilemma.

Still confused about intra vs. inter and want more grammar help? My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid. Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 25 percent off: WritePractice25

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Did you play intramural sports in college? Which ones?


Here’s your prompt: Your character has a crush. They met playing intramural kickball, but now it’s summer, and the crush is traveling internationally so most of their interactions happen over the internet.

Write about your character and his or her crush for fifteen minutes, using inter- and intra- correctly. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to give feedback on a few practices by other writers.

Good luck!

Liz Bureman
Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.
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