Patients vs. Patience: How To Remember The Difference

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Quick summary

Patience, meaning “calm perseverance,” is the noun form of the adjective patient, as in This job requires patience, and I am not a patient person. The word patient is also a noun referring to a person under medical care or treatment, and its plural form is patients, as in Dr. Lee is always friendly to her patients.

Why was the doctor so short-tempered? Because she didn’t have any patients! Bad puns aside, the similarity of the words patients and patience can really test your patience when you can’t remember which one to use.

In this article, we’ll make sure you never confuse patients and patience ever again by explaining the difference and providing examples of how they’re used in sentences.

When to use patients or patience 

The words patients and patience have a very similar pronunciation. That second T in patients is the only thing creating an audible difference between the two words.

Patients is the plural of the noun patient, which refers to a person under medical care or treatment.

For example:

  • The hospital can accommodate several hundred patients, and there are individual rooms for each patient.

Patience is an abstract noun that means “calm perseverance” or “the ability to calmly endure pain or misfortune.” Patience uses a singular verb.

For example:

  • She can put up with a lot, but even her patience has its limits.

Apart from the similar pronunciation of patients and patience, confusion around the words likely also stems from the fact that the word patient can be a noun (whose plural form is patients) and an adjective (whose noun form is patience).

If you have trouble remembering which word is which, remember that -s at the end of patients indicates that it’s a plural, countable noun. On the other hand, the -ence at the end of patience is also used in other abstract nouns, such as silence and prudence.

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Examples of patient, patients, and patience used in a sentence

Keep calm and look at how we typically use patient, patients, and patience in sentences.

  • The nurse prided himself on remaining patient even when treating an unruly patient.
  • Dr. Smith isn’t taking on any new patients this month.
  • The lawyer’s attitude really tested the judge’s patience.
  • Research suggests that doctors who have patience with their patients are more likely to provide accurate diagnoses.

Is it proceed or precede? Learn the difference here.

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