Macro vs. Micro – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ August 16, 2017/ Uncategorized

macro versus micro

What is the Difference Between Macro and Micro?

Macro and micro look and sound similar. They have related but opposite meanings.

Macro acts as either an adjective or prefix that means big.

  • I want to study macroeconomics because I’m interested in the general aspects of a nation’s economy, as a whole.

Micro also acts as either an adjective or prefix, but it means small.

  • The student is learning about microeconomics to understand economics at the level of a company or individual.

Now, let’s look at the specific ways to use these words, as well as how to avoid common mistakes.

Using Macro in a Sentence

When to use macro: Macro can be either an adjective or a prefix that means on a very large scale. It comes from the Greek word makro, which means very long.

For example,

  • The company can finally begin production on a macro level.
  • The photographer bought a new macro lens to get close pictures of her subjects.

People use macro most often in reference to macroeconomics or to a macro lens in photography. Other words that use macro are below:

  • macrocosm: the entire universe
    • It would take an infinite amount of time to explore the macrocosm.
  • macrophage: a type of blood cell
    • Macrophages help your body to destroy pathogens.
  • macroscopic: large enough to see without a microscope
    • There are some cells that are actually macroscopic.

Macro is most common in scientific and technological fields.

Using Micro in a Sentence

When to use micro: Micro can also be an adjective or a prefix. It comes from the Greek word mikros, which means very small.

For example,

  • Many pets have a microchip implanted under their skin to help their owners retrieve the pet if it gets lost.
  • The computer’s microprocessor is malfunctioning.

Use of the word or prefix micro is especially common within the field of technology. Also, in the metric system, micro denotes one millionth of a unit.

Here are a few more words with the prefix micro:

  • microearthquake: an earthquake that measures less than 3 on the Richter scale
    • Some people in the village didn’t even wake up during the microearthquake.
  • microbiology: the field of science related to very small organisms
    • Microbiology is an exciting field that provides research into the unseen world of bacteria.
  • microbrew: related to craft beers
    • He is a beer snob and refuses to drink anything except for microbrews.
  • microcosm: a small scale version of something that is applicable to a larger scale version
    • A high school is a microcosm of the larger world.

Many commercial products use mini as a more colloquial way of saying micro.

Remembering Macro vs. Micro

It is possible to use the spelling of these words to remember the meanings.

For example, micro is spelled with the same first letters as microscope, an object used to see very small things.

Alternatively, macro begins with ma, the same first letters as the word magnify, a word that means to make bigger.

Outside Examples

  • The NRF’s back-to-school spending forecast in part reflects heightened consumer confidence from the macro economic picture, he said. –Forbes
  • I love the idea of exploring the country through books, while also getting an exhaustive — and yet still very personal — catalog of the fiction that has mattered to a writer. It’s micro and macro on a number of levels, and I’m enjoying zooming in on various regions to discover what books Straight chose to represent them. –LA Times
  • Come to this Music City gallery to see curious, unusual and rare modes of transportation. Highlights include floating vehicles, micro cars and three-wheelers, all displayed in a former bakery building. “This is kind of an under-the-radar museum,” Gross says. “What you see at the Lane, you won’t see anywhere else.” –USA Today
  • He currently operates a micro farm in southwest Denver called Guffarmery, named after his boisterous “guffaw” of a laugh. –Denver Post

Quiz: Micro vs. Macro

Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word or prefix, either macro or micro.

  • You can’t see the cells of the body with the naked eye because they are ______scopic.
  • Many people become ill due to a virus, a ___________organism.
  • _____________loans are a great way to help entrepreneurs living in poverty.
  • Polymers or proteins are very large molecules, and are also known as ________molecules.
  • ___________evolution refers to evolution happening over a very long span of time and resulting in new species.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use macro or micro? These two words and prefixes sound similar, but have opposite meanings.

  • Macro refers to something that is very large scale.
  • Micro refers to something miniscule.

Make sure you are aware of this difference when choosing which of these words to use.

Quiz Answers 

  • micro
  • micro
  • Micro
  • macro
  • Macro