Predominant or predominate?

Predominant or predominate?

Posted: 2nd Jan 2016

Predominate: according to the online Free dictionary, this intransitive verb means to “have or gain controlling power or influence”. Adding  the suffix -ly turns this into an adverb. 

But is predominately interchangeable with the word predominantly?

I have lost count of the times I have seen predominately used where predominantly was meant. It is my instinct to always correct this even though the Oxford Dictionaries confirm that the word predominately is a legitimate alternative to predominantly.

I’m pleased to report that I am not the only professional pedant for whom this has posed a problem!

The main sticking point for people appears to come from the root words. While predominate is largely recognised as a verb, predominant – to mean having most importance or significance – is an adjective.

Although in adverb form they have been used interchangeably, it is the root words having different meanings and being of different word types that causes the confusion.

Below are some examples of the words being used to illustrate their correct – or most common – usage. 

Verb: The king predominated his court.
Adverb: The king was predominately in charge of the court.

Adjective: The predominant colour in the room was red.
Adverb: The room’s colour was predominantly red.