Sometimes I may use "naive" in sentences like

I am naive in writing this type of articles

To say "inexperienced"

I would like to know how common this word is among native speakers of English, or in which situations they use it (through some examples please).

  • I'm downvoting, Ahmad, because you have been shown the fishing rod and the tackle box. Where they most use it is a very broad question, and it is one you could answer for yourself. You can consult the texts returned by clicking on the hyperlinks at the bottom of the page here. books.google.com/ngrams/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 31 '15 at 10:50
  • @TRomano maybe I should correct it, by where they most use it, simply I mean its basic or common usage (by an example maybe), for example one can answer it is most used to describe a child or a gullible person... (as it is in the answer), then what should I have said to mean that? – Ahmad Jul 31 '15 at 12:38
  • 2
    @TRomano I edited the question. – Ahmad Jul 31 '15 at 12:51
  • 1
    Unrelated to the question, but "in writing this type of articles" should probably be written as either "in writing these types of articles" or "in writing this type of article". – Ajedi32 Jul 31 '15 at 17:20
  • 1
    "Natives" is absolutely, absolutely not the same as "native English speakers". What my dictionary says (among others): "Native, noun, dated or offensive: A non-white original inhabitant of a country, as regarded by European colonists or travellers." – gnasher729 Jul 31 '15 at 21:46

Be careful. Naive (adjective) or naivety (noun) carry more a sense of attitude than of experience.

If you are naive, you tend to:

  • believe everything you are told
  • believe that people are good
  • be easily tricked.
    Even if you were tricked many times and hence in theory are experienced

Children are the standard example of naive.

If you want to say inexperienced, write inexperienced. You could also describe yourself as a novice or beginner.

  • 5
    Good answer. As a native speaker, I would add that I've never seen "naive in [something]"; it looks wrong to me. Naivete is a general condition. I don't think you can narrow it by field. – Kevin Jul 31 '15 at 14:13
  • 4
    Though you can be e.g. naive in business, so perhaps you can apply naivete to general areas of interest or endeavour. – Paul Calcraft Jul 31 '15 at 16:21
  • I disagree that believing people are good is a valid use of naive. – Andy Aug 1 '15 at 17:32

Naiveté is a result of inexperience; it is not inexperience per se. To be naive is to not know that one's knowledge and experience are insufficient in a given context. Therefore, it is impossible to say "I am naive". One can only say "I was naive." But one can say "I am inexperienced".

  • Well, but if I can say "I was naive" and suspect that I may still is, can't I say "I feel I am still naive". And I think you mean it is most used by others to describe someone not the person himself. – Ahmad Jul 31 '15 at 12:59
  • In Persian, I think of two equivalent for this phrase Saade Loh means gullible and easy believe... and maybe Khaam (like raw fruits), one who is very inexperienced and lack the knowledge of his situation... – Ahmad Jul 31 '15 at 13:04
  • 1
    To render the judgment "he is naive" one must have the knowledge and experience to see that his are insufficient. He may be naive to think that taking vitamins will cure his disease. He may be naive to think that his children are not using recreational drugs. He may be naive to think that a neighborhood is safe to walk in at night. Once one has seen that one has been naive, one may doubt thenceforward whether one is seeing all that needs to be seen. In that case, one might possibly say I still feel naive when remembering the feeling one had when one realized one's (now former) naiveté. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 31 '15 at 13:10
  • 1
    But if you mean to say that you still do not possess the requisite experience for a given context, you would not use the word "naive". Rather you would say "I still lack sufficient experience in such matters" or "I don't know enough about this topic yet". As I said, to be naive is to not know that one's knowledge and experience are insufficient. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 31 '15 at 13:15
  • If you wanted to get fancy-schmancy, you could say "I am a naif in such matters." But that is a quasi-literary expression. It is a sophisticate's way of saying "this 'terrain' is unknown to me". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 31 '15 at 13:20

To answer your question, we use this word when talking about people when we feel they believe everything they hear, or take things at face value, or can easily be convinced to do anything:

A: He said he was going to leave his wife and marry me!

B: That was five years ago and they're still together. Don't be so naive!

It's not always a reproach - sometimes it just means innocent and unsuspecting:

She entered college a mousy, naive girl, and came out a confident, savvy businesswoman.

It is also sometimes used to describe someone's actions, who doesn't suspect anything is amiss in a given situation:

"They made up a profile for a girl named Debbie on a dating site. "Debbie" sent me her email address and I wrote her several times to ask her out. They must have gotten a lot of laughs from my naive attempts to meet her."

  • Thank you, by your answer you added to new words to my .....?! – Ahmad Jul 31 '15 at 12:53
  • ...vocabulary! :) Which words? – CocoPop Jul 31 '15 at 13:02
  • 2
    Yes you added savvy, mousy and vocabulary to my vocabulary. – Ahmad Jul 31 '15 at 13:06

You've got excellent answers regarding the meaning and the use of the word naive, but I would try to explain the meaning of your phrasing instead:

I am naive in writing this type of article.

This would mean that you came to the conclusion that someone too easily persuaded/convinced you to write this type of article regardless the consequences, in other words, that's not the lack of experience in writing this type of article but the lack of assessment/judgement/discernment of the article's subject.

  • Thank you, then I think it is I was naive in writing this type of articles? – Ahmad Jul 31 '15 at 20:38
  • Yes, past would fit better – Lucian Sava Jul 31 '15 at 20:48
  • Lucian, @Ahmad, I would say "this type of article" (no 's' on the end). – snailplane Aug 1 '15 at 3:10
  • @snailboat, yes that's very correct. I don't know how I missed it, I'll edit. – Lucian Sava Aug 1 '15 at 5:03

Naive also means being simple and unaffected. It can refer to a lack of sophistication as well. So a naive young man or a naive villager, could also refer to, depending on the context, somebody who is simple and artless. You can say the village girl exuded a naive charm - in which case the word is used in a positive complimentary sense.


I have also heard it used in the context of art, Naive Art, meaning childlike / simple in the artistic technique.

I have heard the art of LS Lowry described this way for example.

As others have said, naive tends to be something you say of others "he was naive to believe her" whereas in your sentence I would use inexperience.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.