In terms of words that are frequently confused for each other, the advice vs. advise debate is a good one to discuss. After all, we ask for and give advice, and we advise and are advised on a regular basis. The trouble arises in spelling the words—it’s not often that you’d hear someone say advise instead of advice in speech—but it’s not surprising that there’s confusion since the two words originate from the same concept and share all but one letter, a c in one and an s in the other.
Advice vs. advise: what’s the difference?
First things first: you are here, on this web page, seeking advice about spelling. And we are here to advise you. You’ll notice from the previous sentence that advice is a noun (a word that identifies a person, place, or thing) and advise is a verb (a word that identifies an action).
advice: recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct
advise: to give (someone) a recommendation about what should be done
Essentially, to advise is to give advice.
Here’s another example of how the two words should be used:
I’d been feeling listless, so I decided to get a doctor’s advice.
The doctor advised me to get sleep, eat well, and exercise.
Say the words out loud!
Of course, the two words are pronounced differently as well. The c in advice sounds like s, as in ice. The s in advise sounds like z, as in realize. One way to keep the two words straight is to say them out loud: the c in advice (or the c in any other word, for that matter) would never be pronounced like a z. But an s is often pronounced like a z, as in surprise, revise, cries, and so on. Say the words aloud, and you’ll never get it wrong.
It may also help to remember other words that are similar, such as device and devise. Device, a noun, is a gadget; devise is a verb that means to invent. A device must be devised before it can be used.
Here’s another piece of advice.
One more thing to remember about advice is that it’s an uncountable noun. In the same way that you can’t say “an information” or “several informations,” you can’t have “an advice” or “a few advices.” You’ll often see the word used as we’ve used it here, as “a piece of advice,” or often as “some advice.”
For more advice (last one, promise!)…
If this is your first visit to the Elite Editing resources page, we’re happy to have you! Now that you’ve got advice vs. advise straight, check out some of our other writing guides.
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