Easily Confused Words: Inn vs. In

Inn and In are easily confused words. The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “i-n.”

Inn is a noun. It means a place to sleep overnight that is not your residence. Inns are someone’s house put for a fee, they let travelers rent a room for a night or more.

Here in the US, franchises tend to use Inn, Hotel, Lodge, and Motel interchangeably in their business names (Comfort Inn, Marriott Hotel, Hampton Inn, Motel 6), but many places that call themselves lodges and motels are less expensive, and places calling themselves hotels are most expensive. In Europe, I imagine historic inns you find in smaller towns are what Americans think of as a B&B, or “bed and breakfast.”

In has multiple forms, all revolving around one’s location, or status, qualification, or importance. It’s the opposite of being on the outside, or being excluded. I admit, in is a word that’s hard to define “in” without using a “in” word: in, inclusion, included, inside, within. But do you notice the pattern in all those words? Maybe not.

  • In the adverb:
  • In the preposition: where you are physically, your career or industry type.
  • There’s also lots of phrases using ‘in”:
    • the “in” crowd: people with high status and influential tastes
    • “in the know”: people who are informed, know what’s important and are successful.
    • “having an in”: a person has guaranteed access to something that’s not available to all.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:



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