Sometimes, we want a more efficient way to say that someone or something is “on the way” or hasn’t yet reached the destination. To do that, we use the phrase en route. Or is it in route? Or maybe on route?
In this article, join us on this journey to find out the correct spelling of the phrase and the reasons why it’s sometimes confused with others.
en route vs. in route
The phrase en route means “on the way.” To say that someone or something is en route means that they are in the process of traveling from one point to another.
For example, you might say We’re en route from the airport to the hotel or It’s unclear whether my package is en route or still at the warehouse. The phrase often indicates that the person or thing en route is actively moving toward its destination, but this is not always the case—it can also generally refer to travel that is in progress somehow (for example, you might say you’re en route to the final destination of your road trip when you’re talking to someone from your hotel halfway there).
Sentences that use en route often also specify where a trip begins and/or ends, often with the use of the prepositions from and to, as in My sister’s plane is en route from London to Paris and should arrive within the hour.
Sometimes, though, en route is used by itself, as in My package was supposed to arrive today, but I guess it’s still en route.
The en in en route is sometimes pronounced as in, leading some to mistakenly think that the phrase is in route. This confusion is likely also influenced by the use of in in similar phrases, like in progress and in transit.
But that’s not the only mistaken spelling.
en route or on route
The phrase en route comes from French. For that reason, the en can be pronounced a lot like on (technically like [ ahn ]), leading some to mistakenly think that the phrase is actually on route.
The confusion may also be due to similar phrases that use on in reference to travel, such as on time or on schedule.
Still, while the pronunciation of en in en route can vary, it’s always spelled en route.