Knowing the main differences between the adjective “inspiring” and “inspirational” is a distinction you need to know. The two words are very closely linked, but they are just different enough to be worth talking about.
What Is The Difference Between “Inspiring” And “Inspirational”?
Inspiring should be used when you are inspired by something. It can be a person, an object, or something else, as long as it inspires you. Inspirational should be used when talking about something with the intention to inspire (i.e., an inspirational speaker).
The definition of “inspiring,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is when something is “encouraging, or making you feel you want to do something.” This shows a direct impact on being inspired by something.
However, if you look at the definition of “inspirational” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, you’ll see it means “making you feel full of hope or encouraged.” We get the feeling of inspiration, but it’s usually not always enough to ultimately inspire someone.
Do You Say A Person Is Inspiring Or Inspirational?
You can say both of these adjectives when talking about a person, and both of them are used slightly differently.
If you are encouraged to do something by a person, they are often considered an inspiring person as they’ve inspired you. If you felt hope after talking to a person but didn’t necessarily feel inspired, then they are an inspirational person.
Generally, “inspiring” is the stronger of the two adjectives used to show that somebody has already managed to “inspire” another person. “Inspirational” is considered a step below that, where someone hasn’t quite been “inspired” by your actions, but they’re close to doing so.
It’s most common that an “inspiring” person doesn’t know that they’ve inspired others, while an “inspirational” person is deliberately doing things to try to influence and encourage other people. This is the major difference between the two that helps us to tell them apart as adjectives.
It’s also worth briefly mentioning that many native speakers don’t note the difference between these two words. In fact, in spoken English, there’s very little difference between one over the other. You can use them interchangeably, and most native speakers won’t know the difference.
Still, it’s important to understand how each one is used individually from each other so you can start using them properly. You may also be able to teach other people the correct usage and start seeing both adjectives used in a more correct manner.
It’s not just people that are “inspiring” or “inspirational” either. You can look towards nature and find things like views and landscapes that encourage responses of inspiration among many people.
How Do You Use Inspirational?
So, let’s first look at how to use “inspirational” more closely. Remember, we use inspirational mostly when we’re talking about somebody or something that has the intention of inspiring someone. Actually being inspired by someone doesn’t have to occur in this sense.
These examples will show you when it’s most appropriate to use “inspirational” as an adjective. From there, you can decide when it works best for you.
- You are inspirational to me, and I just wanted you to know that.
- It’s important to be inspirational in everything you do in life.
- You are so inspirational to me. You’ve helped me set up my new business.
- You are truly inspirational as a speaker, and I don’t know what I’d do without you!
- You are so inspirational, and I don’t think you know that!
- She is inspirational. She’s got loads of followers that rate her highly.
- He is an inspirational speaker. He delivers seminars about how to take life by the horns and teach it who’s boss.
As you can see, “inspirational” is used in all of these cases as an adjective to describe someone. It’s usually seen as a very flattering adjective too. Typically, you won’t call someone “inspirational” for just any reason.
Although it’s not quite as powerful in meaning as “inspiring,” it still is held in high regard. If somebody calls you “inspirational,” you should take it as a compliment because they’re saying that you’ve encouraged them to better some aspect of their life.
Just because “inspirational” only means you have the intention of inspiring doesn’t mean it’s not still a powerful adjective. Calling someone “inspirational” means you look up to them because they’re doing things worthy of inspiration.
Can You Describe Someone As Inspiring?
You can describe anything as inspiring, from the most beautiful and artistic landscapes to the more familiar people that you have in your life.
You can describe a person as inspiring if you find that the things they do encourage you to be the best version of yourself.
Sometimes, being “inspiring” is seen as a more accidental thing. While “inspirational” means someone has the intention of inspiring someone, being simply “inspiring” means that someone looks up to you and lives through you, even if you don’t specifically go out of your way to do anything you think of as inspiring.
It’s for this reason that calling someone “inspiring” is generally seen as the more impressive of the two adjectives. However, most native speakers won’t be able to tell the difference between the two words and use them fairly synonymously.
No matter what form you use, if you’re using spoken English, both adjectives are equal. It’s only in written English when you really understand the meaning of the two words that any major differences are noticed. Remember that when you’re saying them.
What Does It Mean When Someone Is Inspiring?
Calling someone inspiring is seen as one of the highest forms of praise. If you manage to be called inspiring yourself, it means that someone looks up to you greatly, and you should appreciate them if they say it.
Generally, an inspiring person will do things that encourage the people around them to be better. It could be someone famous, or it could be a family member or friend. Whoever the person may be, if they’ve inspired you to be better, they’re often seen as inspiring.
While more typical compliments to people are covered with their looks (i.e., calling someone beautiful or handsome), inspiring is the perfect example of an adjective used to describe someone in a deeper sense. Describing someone’s actions over their looks is one of the best ways to appeal to them and flatter them with compliments.
When somebody calls you inspiring, it’s best to thank them for the amazing compliment. Also, if you’re not sure what makes you so inspiring to them, maybe it’s a good opportunity to ask them why they look up to you so much.
It can be an excellent learning experience for you to find out why someone thinks of you as inspiring. Even if you don’t think you are, you never know who in this world looks up to you, even if it’s just for the simpler things that you do.
Examples Sentences With Inspiring
Let’s finish by going through some examples of when we can use “inspiring” in a sentence. We’ll cover adjectives for both people as well as a few other things that are seen as inspiring in the world around us.
Once you’ve understood how a few of these examples are written, you’ll be in the best position to start using the two adjectives yourself.
- You may not know this, but you are very inspiring to us all.
- As a parent, you are inspiring to your children, and they will always look up to you.
- You are so inspiring, and you don’t even realize it! You must understand how much everyone adores you!
- Have you seen this incredible view? How inspiring is that!
- Does he have any idea how inspiring he is?
- You are constantly inspiring me to try new things and push myself out of my comfort zone.
- She is the most inspiring person I’ve ever met. There isn’t a single person who knows her that doesn’t agree with me.
As you can see, the adjective “inspiring” is typically used in a more specific way than “inspirational” is. We use the two somewhat interchangeably, but “inspiring” is reserved for the absolute highest praise.
Generally, someone who is inspiring doesn’t realize they are doing things to encourage people. The same thing goes when you’re talking about a potentially inspiring view or landscape. It’s not the intention of the landscape to be inspiring; it’s just something that happens.
Many artists will attest to the power and inspiring nature of landscapes. They will look towards them when they’re low on ideas in the hope that the inspiring side of them will spark something new. It’s this “inspiring” ideal that we can also apply to people.
While not everyone is an artist, it’s still important to look to the most inspiring leaders and people in our lives. From them, we’ll be able to learn a lot of important things about ourselves and how we should act in the world.
This major impact that “inspiring” people and things have on our lives sets them slightly above “inspirational” people and things.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.