Inter vs Intra | Meaning & Difference

Commonly Confused Words updated on  January 29, 2024 3 min read

“Inter” is a prefix meaning “between,” whereas “intra” is a prefix that means “within.”

For example, the word “international” means “relating to or occurring between multiple nations.” On the other hand, “intranational” means “occurring within a single nation.”

Examples: Inter and inter in a sentence
Because it was an international trip, we had to take a plane to get to our destination.
The country’s new policies focused on intranational developments.
The congressional hearing addressed both international trade agreements and intranational economic policies.

What does inter mean?

“Inter” is a prefix that means “between.” It modifies the root word by showing that something is occurring or shared among two or more distinct people, groups, or things.

For instance, if your boss assigns you to work on an interdepartmental project, that means you can expect collaboration between colleagues from different departments.

Words that start with inter

The table below contains a few examples of words that start with “inter.”

Word

Definition

Example

Interact To engage with someone or something The groups of children loved to interact with each other.
Intercontinental Taking place between continents The intercontinental flight took nearly ten hours.
Interfaith Relating to different religions The interfaith organization accepted people from different religions.
Intergalactic Relating to or occurring between two or more galaxies The movie was about an intergalactic space mission.
Interpersonal Referring to relationships or communication between people It’s important to have good interpersonal skills.

What does intra mean?

“Intra” is a prefix that means “within.” It modifies the root word by demonstrating that something is occurring inside or during something.

So, if your boss asks you to work on an intradepartmental assignment, that means you’ll be working alongside colleagues within your department.

Words that start with intra

The table below contains a few examples of words that start with “intra.”

Meaning

Definition

Example

Intracellular Occurring or situated within a cell Intracellular communication controls how the cell operates.
Intramural Taking place within a single institution or school Our school held an intramural field day.
Intracranial Within the cranium The accident left him with an intracranial injury.
Intrastate Existing or occurring within the boundaries of a state The taxis only operate on intrastate routes.
Intravenous Taking place within or administered into a vein She received intravenous fluids at the hospital.

Is a hyphen required for inter and intra?

Typically, a hyphen is not required when using the prefixes “inter” and “intra.”

Examples: Punctuation of inter and intra
We arrived via the inter-state highway.
We arrived via the interstate highway.

They decided to go on an intra-state trip.
They decided to go on an intrastate trip.

However, some style guides have specific guidelines for using hyphens with these prefixes.

For example, the AP Style Guide states that a hyphen is not necessary unless the root word is a proper noun (e.g., “Inter-European”). Additionally, the Chicago Manual of Style advises using a hyphen after “inter” or “intra” to avoid a double “a” or “i” (e.g., “intra-arterial”).

Unless you’re strictly adhering to these style guides, using a hyphen after these prefixes is not necessary.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Idioms

Parts of speech

Fallacies

Diamond in the rough

Irregular verb

Slippery slope fallacy

Idioms

Gerund

Sunk cost fallacy

Piece of cake

Infinitive phrase

Red herring fallacy

Better late than never

Infinitive

Appeal to authority fallacy

Salt of the earth

Adverb

Circular reasoning fallacy


Frequently asked questions about inter vs intra

What does inter mean?

“Inter” is a prefix that means “between” or “among.”

For example, “interdisciplinary” refers to something that combines different academic disciplines (e.g., “I worked on an interdisciplinary project”).

What does intra mean?

“Intra” is a prefix that means “within.” It indicates that something is occurring inside of or during something.

For example, the word “intramural” means “occurring within a single academic institution” (e.g., “I was involved in many intramural sports”).

Do inter and intra require hyphens?

No, hyphens are typically not required when using the prefixes “inter” and “intra.”

However, some style guides advise using hyphens in certain instances. For example, the AP Style Guide suggests using a hyphen when the root word is a proper noun (e.g., “inter-American”), and the Chicago Manual of Style recommends including a hyphen to avoid a double “a” or “i” (e.g., “inter-arterial”).



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Gina Rancano

Gina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as a certificate in professional and public writing from Florida International University. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading.

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