Is there any difference in

1) He is not educated

2) He is uneducated ?

And if there is no, is it possible to make negation with other words by putting "not" in front of them?

If you have different negation prefixes (un, mis, dis etc.) and every word has its own own, for example

"Understand" can have only "mis" (if I am not mistaken).

I was misunderstood

But if I am not sure which prefix I have to use with, for example, "understand" can I just put "not" before it to have the same sense?

I was not understood

The same with "not educated" and "uneducated"


2 Answers 2


But if I am not sure which prefix I have to use with, for example, "understand" can I just put "not" before it to have the same sense?

Regarding misunderstood vs not understand, I would take it that misunderstood means the listener thought that they understood what was said, but had perhaps acted slightly differently based on their interpretation.

On the other hand, not understand would mean they didn't understand anything that was said.

For example:

Joe misunderstood when I asked him to parboil the potatoes, instead he boiled them for far too long.


Joe did not understand when I asked him to parboil the potatoes; he had to look up the definition online.

With your two options - he is not educated and he is uneducated - and without any further context, they mean the same thing. However, depending on the context, you might use one or the other.

So to answer your question, no, using the different prefixes mentioned in your question might not always have the exact same meaning.


In terms of normal meaning, there isn't a difference. However, the two can be interpreted as having different grammatical nuances, and they aren't completely interchangeable.

When I hear not educated (and it may be different for others), it conveys to me a sense of having received no education in the past. But when I hear uneducated it seems to be more related to a present state only. In other words, while they both do refer to somebody's current level of education, I personally think of their past more with not educated than I do with uneducated. This may just be me, and it's possible that others don't perceive such a subtle distinction.

This might have to do with the difference between these two sentences:

He has not been educated.
→ Nobody has ever given him an education.

He has been uneducated.
→ (1) At times in the past, he has been without an education.
→ (2) He has had his education removed from him. (Brainwashing, for example.)

While it's possible to say both of these, the second sentence, regardless of its interpretation, means something different than the first sentence.

Also, consider the following sentences:

✔ She is speaking in an uneducated way.
✘ She is speaking in a not educated way.

It's possible I could come up with an argument for why the second is not actually invalid from a purely syntactic point of view. However, it's certainly unidiomatic, and common usage would make the first the far more common.

In terms of grammar, uneducated is a more natural adjective than is not educated. While not educated is certainly used adjectivally, it's not done so naturally in constructions such as this.

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