Oriented vs. Orientated: What’s The Difference?

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Oriented vs. Orientated?

Have you perhaps been curious about whether oriented or orientated was the right word to describe an aligning position or get used to your new surroundings in a new city or environment? This article will give you the necessary guidance and answer your questions surrounding orientated vs oriented. 

In English, there are times where you can choose one of two different words with similar meanings; there are words that are homophones, which means that they sound the same but have entirely other purposes, and there are some unique words that sound and look the same, but one is more acceptable. Oriented/orientated is one of these particular words in the English language that needs some explaining and can be quite confusing. 

Many people believe that orientated is the past tense verb of orientation; this, however, as the correct past-tense verb form of orientation is oriented. You can use oriented and oriented in the same tense and sentence, but it is pointlessly longer than oriented and does not see much use in the U.S. however, it is seen slightly more often in British English. 

If you live in the U.S. and you are perhaps trying to describe how you were getting used to a new college campus as a freshman. The best and most commonly found/accepted word is oriented. Both are found in most dictionaries and are technically correct, orientated just seems like an overcomplication of the shorter form used word in the U.S. However, this east-west divide also means that Brits will think just the opposite. 

Interestingly it is more common to find orientated in other countries but by using Google Books Ngram Viewer you can find that in English from all countries combined oriented is used five times more than orientated from the years from the 19th century all the way to present day. In America, that number is even more one-sided. In American English oriented is used almost forty times more than orientated. So the rule of thumb is definitely to use oriented instead of orientated. 

Example:

  • It took me a while to begin to get oriented to my new surroundings on campus.
  • I oriented our new house so the sun will rise over our breakfast nook each morning.
  • Our new puppy will be more comfortable with its new home once she gets oriented to her new family and house.

What Is the Definition of the Word Orientation?

According to Merriam-Webster English Dictionary:

  • The act or process of orienting.
  • The state of being oriented.
  • An introduction, as to guide one in adjusting to new surroundings, employment, activity, or the like:
    • New employees receive two days of orientation.
  • Psychology, Psychiatry. the ability to locate oneself in one’s environment with reference to time, place, and people.
  • One’s position in relation to true north, to points on the compass, or to a specific place or object.
  • The ascertainment of one’s true position, as in a novel situation, with respect to attitudes, judgments, etc.
  • Chemistry.
    • The relative positions of certain atoms or groups, especially in aromatic compounds.
    • The determination of the position of substituted atoms or groups in a compound.

A derivative of the transitive verb orient, meaning that it can take a direct object whereas intransitive verbs cannot take a direct object. Other forms to use orient include orientate, orientating, and orienter. 

Synonyms of Orientation

Examples of the Word in Context

Summary

Now you can feel more informed about the differences between oriented and orientated. Although neither word is explicitly wrong, oriented is by far the more common word in English, especially in American English. 

Sources:

  1. https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?corpus=26&smoothing=3&content=orientated&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&direct_url=t1%3B%2Corientated%3B%2Cc0#t1%3B%2Corientated%3B%2Cc0
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