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Intent vs. Intend: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 18, 2023
Intent is a noun referring to a purpose or plan, while intend is a verb meaning to have a plan or purpose in mind.

Key Differences

Intent, as a noun, describes the purpose or goal behind an action or thought. It refers to the state of mind with which an action is done. Conversely, intend, as a verb, is the act of planning or aiming to do something. It signifies the decision made towards a certain purpose.
The intent of an individual often drives their actions and decisions, serving as the underlying reason for what they do. Intend, however, is the expression of a plan or determination to carry out a particular action. It conveys a future-oriented plan or decision.
In legal contexts, intent is crucial as it determines the mindset of a person when committing an act, which can affect the legal consequences. On the other hand, to intend something is to have a specific outcome or goal in mind for the future, indicating foresight and planning.
One’s intent can be inferred from their actions or statements, revealing their true motivations or objectives. To intend, however, requires a more active stance, involving the formulation of a plan or a determined resolution to act in a certain way.
Intent is about the ‘why’ behind actions, while the focus of intend is on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ - what one plans to do and how they plan to do it.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



Purpose or goal behind an action
To have a plan or purpose in mind

Usage in Sentence

Describes the motivation or reason for doing something
Indicates the action one plans to take

Temporal Aspect

Often refers to current state of mind
Usually refers to future actions or plans


His intent was to provide help.
She intends to finish the project by Friday.

Intent and Intend Definitions


It denotes the state of someone's mind that directs their actions.
His intent in calling the meeting was to improve team communication.


Intend can suggest a desire or plan to do something.
They intend to travel around Europe next summer.


Intent refers to a determined purpose or aim.
The artist's intent was to evoke feelings of joy through his painting.


Intend means to have a plan or purpose in mind.
I intend to start a new course next month.


Intent can be the meaning or significance of something.
The intent of her speech was clear and powerful.


It implies designing or planning something for a specific purpose.
He intends to dedicate the book to his mentor.


It's used to describe a plan or design.
The architect’s intent was to merge modern design with traditional elements.


Intend can also mean to signify or mean something.
By saying that, he intended to show his support.


Intent can also mean being earnest or intent in focus.
She listened with intent to understand the complex topic.


It's used to indicate what one wants to achieve or bring about.
She intends to make her project more environmentally friendly.


Something that is intended; an aim or purpose.


To have in mind; plan
We intend to go. They intend going. I intended that you would go as well.


(Law) The state of mind necessary for an act to constitute a crime.


To design for a specific purpose
A whisk is intended to beat eggs.


Can intent be misinterpreted?

Yes, people can sometimes misinterpret the intent behind actions or words.

How is intent important in law?

In law, intent is crucial for determining the mindset behind a criminal act, which affects culpability.

Is intent always conscious?

Intent is often conscious, but it can also be subconscious or implicit.

Is intent linked to morality?

Intent can be linked to morality, as it often reflects the ethical considerations behind actions.

How do you express intend in a sentence?

Intend is expressed as an action, for example, "I intend to learn a new language."

Can intent change over time?

Yes, a person’s intent can change as their thoughts or circumstances evolve.

Is intending something a commitment?

Intending often implies a certain level of commitment, but it's not an absolute guarantee.

Can intent be communicated non-verbally?

Yes, intent can be communicated through body language, actions, and facial expressions.

Is intent always explicit?

No, intent can be implicit, inferred from actions or context.

Does intend require planning?

Intending usually involves some level of planning or forethought.

Can we always know what we intend?

People are generally aware of what they intend, but sometimes intentions can be unclear or conflicting.

Can people have multiple intents?

Yes, individuals can have multiple intents, sometimes even conflicting ones.

Is it important to align actions with intentions?

Aligning actions with intentions is often key to achieving goals and maintaining integrity.

Can one intend without acting?

Yes, it’s possible to intend to do something without taking any action.

Do intentions guarantee outcomes?

No, intending something doesn’t always lead to the desired outcome due to various factors.

Can organizations have intent?

Yes, organizations can have collective intents that guide their policies and actions.

Can a person’s intent be completely selfless?

While rare, it’s possible for a person’s intent to be completely altruistic or selfless.

How does intent affect relationships?

Understanding intent can improve trust and communication in relationships.

Can animals intend?

Animals can exhibit behavior that suggests intent, though it’s not the same as human intentionality.

How do cultures affect interpretations of intent?

Cultural norms and values can significantly influence how intent is interpreted in different societies.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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