Advice vs. Advise

It’s no wonder that advice and advise are often confused; they are used in similar contexts and separated by just one letter, but that letter signals important distinctions to keep in mind when using the terms. So what are the differences between the two?

Advise is a verb meaning “to give counsel to; offer an opinion or suggestion as worth following.” Advice is a noun meaning “an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.” The -ice ending of advice is pronounced like “ice,” while the -ise ending of advise is pronounced like the “-ize” in “realize.”

Some of the confusion surrounding these terms may be attributable to the subtle spelling differences, particularly when it comes the use of c versus s, between British and American English. For instance, in British English, the words practice and practise are different parts of speech (noun and verb, respectively). Meanwhile, in American English, the word practice doubles as both a noun and a verb. While the absence of a second spelling might lead you to believe American English prefers the -ce ending, English speakers in the United States use defense and offense where the British use defence and offence. Thankfully, regardless of the variety of English you’re dealing with, advice is always a noun and advise is always a verb.

If you have trouble remembering the difference between the two, it might help to keep in mind that advice and advise operate much like device and devise. You devise a plan, but to do so, you might use a device. Similarly, if you advise a friend, you are giving her a piece of advice.

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