Commonly referred to as "Magic Points" or MP in Role Playing Games
and depicted by the Mana Meter
A subset of Life Energy
, mana is the spiritual fuel
that makes Functional Magic
work — in additional to Eye of Newt
. The character stores the mana somewhere on or inside his person and uses it up as he casts spells or performs other superhuman acts. The amount of mana is directly proportional to the number and strength of spells that can be cast consecutively.
Once used, it depends on the story how it's regenerated
. It could simply require rest or eating; or it could require more exotic means; such as Intimate Healing
or feeding on the Life Energy
of others. Sometimes all that's required is a good old primal scream
and focusing on what's important, really, really hard with a lot of emotion.
can have many names, and often Hermetic Magic
and Ki Attacks
will overlap in its depiction. Mana, Ki, Chi, Chakra, etc. What differentiates them is how they are drawn out and used. Ki Attacks
are martial-arts based, while Hermetic Magic
often requires components and rituals. But prior to leaving the body, the "stuff" used seems to be the same.
If someone has a lot
of mana stored up, expect various people in anime
to comment on how their aura
The term is actually a Melanesian/Polynesian word for the power of the elemental forces of nature, as embodied in an object or person (essentially, a Badass
is someone with lots of mana). The current usage no doubt descends directly from Larry Niven
's novel The Magic Goes Away
and related stories from the 1970s, in which he used "mana" to refer to the non-renewable resource which powered magic in prehistoric times, and whose depletion ushered in the "modern" historical era.
to be confused with the holy sustenance (often assumed to be breadlike, though the original source describes it as being quite different) rained from heaven by God for the Israelites in The Bible
. That's manna
, with two N's.
A Mana Potion
can be a way on hand to restore used up mana, or it can restore on its own with Regenerating Mana
Compare with Vancian Magic
. See also Psychic Powers
genre's version of human special powers).
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Anime and Manga
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, Michel stole Life Energy apparently to fuel his powers and make him stronger. While this is part of it, it soon turns out that the other part is just to keep himself alive through the process of altering his DNA to merge with Michal.
- Dragon Ball: "Sentô-ryoku (literally "fighting power", and actually called such in the Latin American dub)" or "Power level" is an famous use of this trope; it resembles Ki. Note that power level isn't something that can be used up like most of the other examples and is more like a Character Level than a Mana Meter. It can go down, but only if the character is really low on energy. Generally when it starts dropping, that means the fighter is on their last legs, and is fighting to stay conscious. (On one occasion, Gohan actually got his dropped to zero when Recoome broke his neck.)
- Shaman King had "Furyoku", which is translated as "Mana" in the English manga.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! outright uses RPG terminology to differentiate Chi as HP and Mana as MP. Ki Attacks are the ability to draw on one's own internal Life Energy, and Magic is the ability to manipulate and draw in elemental forces from without. Using one interferes with the other unless one somehow knows the "Kanka Technique" which fuses them. Negi's ability to share mana with his students via "Pactio" contracts is impressive.
- "Reiryoku/Spiritual Energy" in Bleach. Not to be confused with "Reiatsu/Spiritual Pressure", which is what energy is being released.
- "Chakra" in Naruto
- "Reiki," "Yoki," and "Seikoki" in YuYu Hakusho.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has "Linker Cores", which are ethereal organs in the bodies of mages and magical creatures that store magic power.
- In Zatch Bell!, this is simply called "Power from Within."
- In To Aru Majutsu no Index, there is natural mana produced by ley lines on the Earth, but there are also several ways to produce mana, which is why there are different schools of magic. However, mana is incompatible with AIM fields of espers, which disallow the existence of a magician-esper hybrid. AIM fields also function as the science-side equivalent of mana, produced by the Personal Realities of espers. Huge enough amounts of it can result in the creation of artificial angels. Telesma, meanwhile, is the variation used by real angels. Telesma is highly dangerous, destructive, and cannot be controlled by humans, unless there is a medium such as the Curtana in England.
- Mages (that is, pretty much everyone) in Maburaho have limited numbers of spells, and their numerical mana is extremely difficult to replenish without making a Deal with the Devil. Running out of spells causes instant death; though, fortunately, they seem to be able to measure their remaining spell counts very precisely and most people (except the protagonist) are born with hundreds or even thousands of spells.
- In Gold Digger, all living creatures produce "ether," which hovers invisibly around them. For most people, the stuff is both undetectable and useless, but spellcasters use it to power their spells. Rakshasas like Gen eat the stuff.
- In Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away series, Mana is a non-renewable resource, and generations of basing entire civilizations on heavy magic use eventually drains the entire world.
- Subverted in Night Watch. Others do appear to use some internal generation of mana-like power, but it's actually the opposite. Magicians are the ones that cannot generate this "mana", but can only use what normal people generate. The higher their level, the 'less'' of this "mana" they generate.
- It's usually called Essence in the Whateley Universe, and what makes a mutant a 'wizard' type is the natural ability to call it up.
- In Warbreaker, BioChroma is fuelled by an energy called "Breath", which is an aspect of the human soul. People are born with one Breath, but can give it away fairly easily to someone else (which doesn't kill them, though it does dampen their ability to percieve the world), and many wealthy and powerful individuals stockpile thousands of Breaths. The more Breaths one has, the more spectacular magical effects one can produce.
- The Banned and the Banished: Mages of the Chiric and Choric styles store mana in their hands, which turn a dark red shade that lightens as the power is slowly used up. Both types can recharge from sunlight, and Choric "wit'ches" can also use moonlight or the glow from a ghost (gaining access to different types of spells when they do so.) However, they can't recharge a hand unless it's completely empty of power, which can be problematic if a Chiric mage is running out of mana near sundown.
Mythology and Religion
- Referred to in The Bible. When an old woman touched Jesus's robe, believing it would heal her disease, he noticed despite being in a large crowd of people because he felt "virtue" (Greek dunamis) flow out of him.
- Aversion: One of the eccentricities of Dungeons & Dragons is that it does not have the concept of Mana, but instead uses Vancian Magic revolving around the limited capacity to prepare spells beforehand.
- Psionics, interestingly, uses this instead with a pool of Power Points. You can also spend more Power Points when using weak powers to put them on par with their higher-level counterparts, though there is a limit on how much PP you can expend at once. Certain feats and class features allow characters to "Overchannel", which increases this limit but also causes the user to take damage from the strain.
- In 4th Edition, instead of having both At-will and Per-encounter powers like most classes, psions have lots of At-will powers which can be boosted to Per-encounter strength by expending Power Points from a limited pool.
- Unearthed Arcana has a "Spell Points" variant rule which makes wizards and sorcerers work more like psions, though since most spells weren't designed for this kind of scaling, it ends up being easier just to play a psion and call it a wizard.
- In Magic: The Gathering, mana is drawn from the land, though some creatures (both humanoid and not) can provide it as well. In addition, mana is divided into five colors, and each color can only fuel certain kinds of spells.
- Duel Masters is practically the same, except that any card can be set aside and used for mana.
- "Energy" in the Pokemon TCG is similar.
- Every The World of Darkness game has its own version of Mana, conveniently broken down into points:
- Both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem use Vitae (mystically-enhanced blood) to fuel Disciplines. Vitae is measured in blood points.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse used Gnosis (the ambient power of Gaia), while Werewolf: The Forsaken uses Essence (the stuff of the spirit world).
- Mage: The Ascension used Quintessence, the "free" version of the energy that, when bound up, made all of creation. Mage: The Awakening uses Mana, the essence of the Supernal Realms filtered down into the Fallen World. Both systems are unusual in that mages don't need to spend Mana to cast spells — they can optionally spend it to keep their magic from screwing up in the worst possible moment.
- Promethean: The Created uses Pyros (a raw form of the "Divine Fire" that powers the universe).
- Wraith: The Oblivion used Pathos, emotional strength reaped from humans.
- Changeling: The Dreaming and Changeling: The Lost both use Glamour (the embodiment of dreams and emotions).
- Geist: the Sin-Eaters uses Plasm (the stuff of the dead), which can be gathered by visiting the Underworld, staying in haunted houses... or eating ghosts.
- Hunter: The Reckoning used Conviction (a measure of the inner reserves of the hunter's devotion).
- Demon: The Fallen used Faith (human faith, reaped and processed by demons through divine revelation).
- All races have Willpower (raw inner strength), which is used similarly and often in concert with the above. Mortals with special powers (such as hunters from Hunter: The Vigil) use it exclusively in place of other forms of "mana".
- Mummy: The Curse subverts it a little - while the Arisen gain power from Sekhem, they have no "common" pool of power. Rather, they draw strength from their five defining Pillars, and may need to spend from one or the other depending on circumstances.
- Aberrant used Quantum as fuel, which apparently was generated automatically over time.
- Exalted uses rules similar to the World of Darkness Storyteller system, with "Essence" as the power stat, which affects what "Charms" (skill-based superpowers/spells) the character can take, and which is used to calculate the character's "motes" (magic points).
- In "standard" GURPS magic, casting spells uses up some of the magic user's Fatigue Points, just like any other hard work, and can only be done in an area with ambient magical force, called "Mana". GURPS borrowed as much from Niven as D&D did from Jack Vance. Supplements have varied sorts of mana, even a type that is actively malevolent.
- The Dark Eye uses "astral energy" in point form, recoverable by sleeping, meditation and extremely expensive mana potions.
- Cartoon Action Hour avoids this the following way by using Clusters. which were call Spell Clusters as wizard-type characters will be using them most.
- Averted in Eon where magicians channel mana from the surroundings to produce effects. The effects possible are only restricted by how much mana you can channel and hold at one time. Mana is not a generic concept though, there are 21 different kinds of mana that have different uses, and two of those can't even be channeled by mere mortals. When there is one kind of mana you lack you could transform a suitable type of mana into the one you want.
- In Nomine, has Essence, the energy of the universe, which is generated by most beings daily, and can be used by angels and demons, ethereal beings (beings generated by human dreams), and a few supernaturally aware humans to fuel Songs and sometimes other supernatural abilities, as well as to provide a boost to mundane actions. Ordinary humans spend their Essence unconsciously to boost themselves when they really want to succeed at something.
- Rifts and other books by Palladium Books uses P.P.E, or Potential Psychic Energy. The name comes from an in-universe book written in the 1970s about magic. It's called Potential Psychic Energy because all people are born with a large store of it, but with the exception of magic users, almost all a person's P.P.E. disappears as it is used in the creation of talents and other things that define the person as an adult. Every living creature has some P.P.E. inside them, and magic users become living batteries able to store vast amounts. Inexplicably, a person's P.P.E. doubles at the moment of death; this is the in-universe reason for the use of sacrificial victims in connection with rituals. It's also the reason young victims are preferred, as a small child has 3-5x the P.P.E. an adult has.
- In Conspiracy X, magicians draw their power from the Seepage. You see, 95% of humans actually have psychic potential, but since humans were created by the Atlanteans utilizing genetic material from three different species the vast majority cannot use even a fraction of it. The rest dissipates passively over time (and spills out in great amounts when great emotions such as fear or anger are experienced). This is the "aura" psychics can see. So basically, Seepage is the untapped psychic potential of the entire human race. Unfortunately, since so much of it is the product of negative emotions, over the ages it has not only gained an alien consciousness of its own, it is actually malevolent. It actively seeks to cause fear and suffering to expand itself. It often manifests in explainable, "spontaneous" supernatural phenomena, and it causes people to go mad if they mess too much with it. Those who don't go mad may be transformed into vampires, werewolves, or other such monsters.
- The player characters of Nobilis use Miracle Points, which conveniently abbreviates to MP. They get five in each of the four stats (Aspect, Domain, Persona and Treasure) and can buy more, and the rule is that you can only spend them in powers of 2 - 1, 2, 4 or 8 + wound points at a time - to use miracles above the level of the stat in question. Of note, in Chancels, Nobles get a 3 MP discount on everything, making them really, really scary - someone with Treasure 5 can pull off Imperial Miracles with a single MP and a bit of prep time.
- In the Lunar games, all special attacks, including Ki Attacks use up the same MP. However, they do not all count as "magic" as defined by the series. This gets weird in Lunar 2, when Ronfar's healing spells are determined to be "not magic."
- The MMORPG City of Heroes uses Endurance to fuel all superpowers, whether they are magical, technological, the result of mutation or scientific experimentation, or plain ol' martial arts.
- Shin Megami Tensei games have Magnetite, a mystical substance that makes up the physical bodies of demons when they are summoned; it is, unsurprisingly, produced most richly by human bodies and a critical need for the series' Magic from Technology. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has Magatsuhi, quite possibly related if not the same thing as Magnetite; large enough stockpiles of the substance are enough to recreate the world from nothing or utterly obliterating the cycle of life and death. It is very clearly shown that the effects of forcefully removing an individual's Magatsuhi is quite painful to the drainee and may have long-reach consequences, leaving the victim weak and despondent.
- The Zelda series generally allows Link access to a Magic Meter in order to use magic powers, although it is not present in all games (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess being a notable example).
- The Ultima series uses a hybrid system in which casting spells does cost mana, but it also requires special ingredients called reagants to be cooked up into a usable spell. Certain spells in Dungeons & Dragons use something similar, called "material components".
- Mana is a large staple of Disgaea and later Nippon Ichi strategy RPGs as it is needed to create characters, unlock events, reincarnate, and so forth. Mana is treated in-game as a sort of currency. It also has SP for special moves and casting spells.
- Makai Kingdom: Many of the characters are often mentioning how they can often feel might mana powers, and how much mana power any characters have.
- All player characters in Kingdom of Loathing have "MP" and it all works the same way. The twist is that what MP stands for is different for different classes. Mysticality (spellcaster) classes have mana points, but Muscle (warrior) classes have muscularity and Moxie (rogue) classes have mojo points.
- Somewhat subverted in Star Ocean, where MP equates more to mental strength. In Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, when you run out of MP, you get incapacitated (adding more to the mental strength fact) and that only Runology (magic) consumes MP. Killer moves consumes HP instead.
- Geneforge has essence, which functions in the same way, but is semi-living goo that can (and often is) stored outside of people's bodies.
- Also energy, which is used up faster by spellcasting but rapidly regenerates, and is not needed to make Mons.
- Paladin's Quest, a RPG for the SNES, has no MP. All magic use is tied to Hit Points. Healing, for obvious reasons, is not available as magic, and instead is in "bottles" which provide a character with a specific number of uses until they are refilled.
- In the GBA Golden Sun series, the heroes are masters of "Psynergy", a type of magic/Psychic Power. They encounter a martial arts school, and the head of the dojo comments on how their powers differ from Ki Attacks. "Psynergy comes from the mind, while Chi comes from the body." It's commented that Psynergy is genetic, while "anyone" can eventually learn to use Chi, however nobody in the party does. However, there are Ki techniques (not Chi) from a different temple/dojo, with Psynergy substitutes that the heroes can learn.
- Most of the role-playing games in the Mario franchise use a Mana system for special attacks. Super Mario RPG and the Paper Mario games use Flower Points, the first Mario & Luigi game uses Bros. Points and the third Mario & Luigi game uses Special Points. Super Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and Paper Mario: Sticker Star instead use inventory items as special moves.
- The World of Mana (Seiken Densetsu) series, naturally, uses it as the source of magic (and all life in general), with assorted spirits overseeing each of the elements, coming from The World Tree. How much is available depends on how active the heroes have been at breaking said tree.
- The plasmids from BioShock are powered by "EVE," which is mechanistically identical to mana.
- Prana in the Nasuverse are separated between Odic force and Mana; the first is generated from the magus (small pool), and Mana is the energy in the environment (big pool). The two are essentially interchangeable, except for those rare occurences where only Mana supply is affected. Higher Elementals are essentially made of Mana, similar to Energy Beings. How mana is gained and used are plot points of Fate/stay night. Life Energy theft and Intimate Healing, primarily.
- The Atelier Iris sub-series does the same thing. Most alchemists are required to befriend mana spirits to improve the success rate of the items they create. The older Atelier games avoid this completely however; the alchemists simply make things like bombs without any outside "mystical" assistance, keeping with the Low Fantasy feel of the setting.
- Licensed Star Wars games which feature Force use generally model it in a very RPG-ish fashion, with "Force powers" (spells) powered by "Force points" (mana).
- Tales of Symphonia. The characters spend a majority of the game trying to restore the mana flow to both worlds, and eventually restoring the source of Mana, the Giant Kharlan Tree. In Symphonia life can't even exist without mana.
- Tales of Vesperia starts out with "Aer" later revealed to be toxic. At the end of the game, Rita discovers a way to replace Aer with actual "Mana".
- Many Final Fantasy games have mana, but there also are many exceptions. I, III, and VIII use a mana pool. The games mentioned use a Dungeons & Dragons-style "uses per day" system, with VIII having some twists on the idea. The first game had its system converted to a mana pool in later remakes for ease of use. Final Fantasy XIII's battle system is another exception, there is no MP in this game, either. Magic functions as it does in Valkyrie Profile, essentially: An alternate form of attack with some charge times tacked on. III's system is labeled as MP though (atleast in the DS version) and can be restored by an elixir as mana often can be.
- World of Warcraft: All classes except rogues, warriors, death knights, and hunters use mana. note The previously mentioned classes tend to forget this fact and rush into battle before the mana users are ready.
The aforementioned classes use resources similar to mana (rage, energy, runic power, focus), but with two main differences: First, the maximum amount you can have and the rate of regeneration don't scale with level and gear. Second, whereas mana regenerates more slowly if at all during combat, energy and focus regenerate at the same rate in and out of combat, and rage and runic power actually drain when you're not in combat.
- Energy and Focus regenerate during combat, with Focus having an attack to replenish it faster (Steady Shot and Cobra Shot). Rage and Runic Power are gained by either hitting mobs or letting mobs beat on you.
- EVE Online has a capacitor for ships, which is used to activate all the equipment on a ship with the exception of projectile weapons. The capacitor is drained by a certain amount with each activation, and has a base regeneration rate, which can be enhanced with a multitude of skills and ship fittings. As in World of Warcraft, one of the most important duties for any pilot is to find a balance that won't completely drain the capacitor, leaving the ship helpless while it regenerates.
- The Reconstruction has three stats that different abilities can be cast from, of which Mind and Soul would correspond to different types of Mana. Interesting, not only is it just as frequent to Cast From HP, Mind and Soul function as alternate HP counters, and dropping one of them to 0 will also defeat someone.
- Power Points (PP) in Pokémon function like mana. However, it's different from most examples in that each move has its own set uses of PP rather than all moves drawing from one pool of it.
- Kingdom Hearts I and II have MP, with every spell taking up a certain amount or fraction of the MP in the meter. This was recharged in the first game by physical attacks, and by collecting MP Orbs. The second game had an MP meter that could be refilled by MP orbs as long as it still had some MP in it, but once it was all used up, you had to wait a short time for it to refill completely before you could use any spells. This could be sped up by collecting MP Orbs. Both games also had items that refilled MP, and abilities that gave other conditions for getting MP.
The other games employed variations on Vancian Magic, forcing you to stock the spells you thought would be most useful ahead of time.
- Pretty much all Roguelike games use some mana-type system which spell casting and psionics use, with mana regenerating over time. In the few games where the player could gain different divine powers by worshiping different gods there's a separate pool of "faith" or "piety" points which are expended to use those powers, with each religion having a different method of regaining points.
- Nono from Solatorobo is something of a combination of mana and The Force. While it can be used to produce magical effects such as barriers and levitation, being attuned to it also results in being able to sense other people or objects who are tapping in, such as the Paladins and the amulet.
- Crest Magic users from the Wild ARMs series are all Big Eaters, and they claim that casting spells uses a lot of energy. This results in the often scrawny or waiflike magic users consuming truly prodigious amounts of food (Celia in the first game at one point orders more food than should actually be able to fit in her body). The first game does use MP however, for two of the characters, and thus it might be that the fuel used for magic is perfectly normal bodily energy, as the other user uses his MP to fuel his various sword techniques. This makes a bit more sense when you realize that the only character who doesn't have MP, Rudy, is actually a Ridiculously Human Robot. Later games do away with traditional MP, but the implication that Crest Magic users burn lots of energy and eat lots of food remains.
- In The Elder Scrolls series, it is referred to as Magicka, and regenerates on its own in later games, based on your Willpower, with your total available magicka based on your Intelligence. The cost of casting a spell changes depending on how skilled in a particular casting skill you are. (For example, in Oblivion you have Destruction, Conjuration, Restoration, Alteration, Illusion and Mysticism skills. As you get better in each by casting spells of that type, casting those spells gets cheaper.) In the later games, Luck also plays a part, as it does in everything.
- Darklands has "divine favor" points (DF). They are spent when a character prays to saints for miracles and are slowly regenerated over time. To regain DF faster a character can spend the day praying for divine favor instead of working or studying.
- Lux in Tales of the Questor is a bit light on ritual, but otherwise fits the spell-casting thing pretty well. Word of God says lux is more akin to a really funky neutrino field than typical magic. Most of the populace treats it like magic, though, and it can summon lightning bolts.
- The similarity to magic is actually a plot point a few times, though mostly in the filler arcs. Although the Racconans know that lux is a science and doesn't depend on witchcraft, rituals, or deals with the devil, most humans (living in a feudal-type society) are ignorant of this, making them treat lux-users as dangerous outcasts and associating them with others who claim to perform magical feats—like the human-sacrificing druids. It doesn't help that very few humans are born with the ability to channel lux. (Although those who are born with it are implied to be generally far more powerful than the best of the Racconans.)
- In Drowtales, drow call the substance that powers their Functional Magic "Mana". In fact the author rather objects to the term "magic". Not only is it generated by the elves' own Life Force, it is necessary to allow the fey races to remain immortal.
- TwoKinds has normal Mana, which is used for mainstream magic and will crystallize into a little blue rock when concentrated, and Dark Mana, which is actually The Lifestream used in place of mana, and allows summoning and necromancy (which usually doesn't work). It causes crystals to form as well, but this is simply a side-effect. Dark Mana causes brain damage, insanity and death.
- Izzy from Adorable Desolation has the ability to map mana trails.
- In The Dragon Doctors it's possible to go into "Mana Shock" when you accumulate too much; this happens to a girl who was turned to stone and left soaking in the bottom of a leyline for 2000 years. She nearly exploded when she went into Mana Shock later.
- An unusual example in Housepets!, Pete and the Spirit Dragon are near-omniscient, but in regards to their game they limit their powers by making them cost "mana", which is accumulated at their temples.
- Irregular Webcomic!. "Channeling mana..."
- In El Goonish Shive, everyone has access to latent magic energy which they can use to cast spells if they have access to the spells in question and have enough magical energy built up. Very rarely, individuals are born who have no potential to gain the capacity for more magical energy beyond their innate latent magic energy.
- In Ben 10 we are led to believe that Gwen's powers are purely magic-based, but Ben 10: Alien Force quickly starts Doing In the Wizard by explaining that Gwen's powers originate from an alien grandmother, who states that 'magic' is caused by mana. If that wasn't enough, the granny then sheds her skin to reveal an energy being made of mana, and says that Gwen can do the same. Naturally, she refuses.
- Eventually, they go for an interesting blending of the former 'magic' explanation and newer 'alien powers' explanation. Magic is mana manipulation, and being part mana-made energy being makes you really good at it. Grandma Verdona's powers and 'magic' powers are different ways of using the same thing and Gwen is learning both (around this time, she starts to use spells like she did in the original series as well as the Green Lantern-lite powers that had replaced them when Alien Force began.) Charmcaster and Hex, the magic-based villains, on the other hand, come from another dimension where all mana comes from: Ledgerdomain is a dimension where 'the sky isn't parallel to the earth' so you might get lost forever if you try to fly, and it's a Planet of Hats whose hat is wizardry. Charmcaster is sort of jealous that Gwen is able to easily pick up what it took her years and years of study to learn.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Uncle's and Dao Long Wong's "Chi Spells" seem to be Hermetic Magic with an eastern flavour. How Chi is distributed is a major part of the plot throughout the seasons.
- Mana in Arcana Magi main series, is treated as a form of energy, with two types; kinetic and potnetial, that is used by magical people to cast spells and activate magical items. Mana is common now in Arcana Magi Universe.
- Aura in Chaos Fighters and using it effectively requires charging, i.e. accumulating it into something. However, aura are atom sized particles and in-universe it is partially explained using quantum mechanics and partly using classical wave theory.
- Mystic power in Phaeton is sometimes called mana or something like that to save time and is used in the same way.