Some Advice about “Advise”

By Maeve Maddox

Two comments on writing sites jumped out at me recently:

Whereas other kinds of writing you could slide a bit, although that is not adviced or recommended.

and

Very smart advise. Also always check with the publisher for submission guidelines as they all can be a little diferent but they all want perfection to their rules.

I know that it’s easy to write comments in a hurry and then see, too late, that you’ve misspelled something or written an ungrammatical sentence and can’t go back to correct it. I have a lot of experience in doing just that.

However, it’s not just in rapidly-written comments that advice and advise are mixed up.

ESL speakers and writers must find the words easy to confuse. This from the Norway Post:

Swine Flu: Mass vaccination adviced
As expected the Norwegian Health authorities on Friday announced that they advice all Norwegians to be vaccinated against the swine flu

Many bloggers and forum commentators, possibly native English speakers, suffer from the same confusion:

nature – Viewer discretion adviced…egh (headline over unpleasant photo)

Why heart patients are adviced for morning work (headline on medical advice site)

Post Tooth Extraction Care as adviced to my patients (headline on the blog of a dental surgeon)

Why are people adviced to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables? (Answers.com wiki question)

We Adviced a New Mum How to Cope With a New Baby and the New Role of Motherhood (Articlesbase headline)

Advice and advise are pronounced differently. The c in advice has the sound /s/. The s in advise has the sound /z/.

Both words have numerous meanings, but the usual ones are:

Advice: a noun meaning “opinion given or offered as to action.”

Advise: a verb meaning “to counsel, caution, or warn.”

The past tense form of the verb advise is advised.

Tip for keeping them straight: The word advice never changes its form. You can talk about “different pieces of advice” but never “advices.” If you catch yourself trying to add any kind of ending to advice, you’re about to commit an error.

Examples of use:
Take my advice and stay home when it snows.
I am advising you for your own good.
He advised her to stay home.
She failed to heed his advice.

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9 Responses to “Some Advice about “Advise””

  • Chet from Malaysia

    I’ve always thought the confusion was American. Whenever I saw the two words (also “practice” and “practise”) mixed up, it was always in an article written by an American. I’ve never seen this mistake made by the English – whether a native born English person or someone from an ex British colony schooled within the English education system (like me).

    Whenever friends ask me which is which, I would say “c” is the noun and “s” is the verb.

  • Arthur

    Like Chet, I always thought it was an American versus Britsh English issue.
    While the Brits use the ‘ise’ form for verbs – ( to license, to practise and to advise), and the ‘ice’ form for nouns – (the licence, the practice and the advice) – the Americans tend to use the ‘ise’ form only, for both verbs and nouns.
    I am, however, British and quite willing to be corrected on my interpretation of N. American English.

  • T. Vilaça

    First, thanx Maddox for the good clear examples.

    But Arthur, if I may…
    Allow me to express my surprise as a teacher and a language student.
    As a non-native English speaker I have never had a doubt on that matter, for it has always been cristal clear to me which one is the verb and which one is the noun.
    And especially because I’ve read some comments mentioning the fact that the writter of this or that post might have been an ESL speaker and that may have an influence over his/ her ability to manage the language properly, I really feel like to share my amazement with you guys ( from whom I’ve learnt so much lately):

    First: How is it possible for Americans not to know what is a verb and what is a noun?

    Second: How is it possible for the British to assume that americans can be that stupid? ( sorry, I don’t know if can use this word here, but it’s quite clear it’s not offensive at all, I’m simply stating some one else’s opinion).

    BTW, I am Brazilian, I study romance languages and I teach ESL.
    Well, I still don’t know what amazes me the most.

    Any American would want to have a word on that?

  • Emma

    ” How is it possible for Americans not to know what is a verb and what is a noun?”
    Just as it’s entirely possible for us Brits to muddle them up (to the person who said they’d never seen British English writers muddle them up, I say … you’ve not met some of my students 🙁 )

    There are two main reasons I see;

    Grammar isn’t taught a lot in UK schools – I learnt far more grammar in Latin lessons than I ever did in English ones.

    Spell checkers … while it’s possible to set word to identify correctly spelt but possibly misplaced words, you generally have to add the lists of words you might confused (practice/practise; their/there etc) – most people don’t. If you’re typing, you don’t always realise it’s the wrong word – as it’s not highlighted in the way it would be, had you spelt it incorrectly!

    (And, should I have used spelt or spelled – to me, spelt is more correct, though spelled perfectly acceptable. I know others see it the other way round!)

  • T.Vilaça

    Thanx for enlighting me, Emma!

    I actually thought the Brits were very strict regarding grammar – at least, my Brit friends love to correct my ‘whos’ and ‘whoms’ and advise me to pronounce my ‘p’s and ‘t’s. Anyway, thanx for the tip.
    In Brazil, oddly enough the spell checker is not that popular. You must consider we don’t have many ambiguities such as ‘right’, ‘write’ and ‘rite’, whatever.

    And what about the american folks? Not a word?

    Regards to y’all.

    Tiago Vilaça

  • mailav

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  • phik

    As an American-educated ex-pat now living in a former British colony, I think I can address Tiago’s question.

    It’s not that Americans are so “confused” or “stupid” that they don’t know nouns from verbs.

    It is simply that, over time, the use of -ice for most noun forms has disappeared from American English. Just as “colour” became “color” and “honour” became “honor”, you’ll never see an American write “licence”. Ever. In the US, like it or not, “license” is both noun and verb.

    It goes the other way, too: Americans use “practice” as both noun and verb.

    So for Americans, “advice/advise” is one of the relatively few noun/verb combinations to retain that difference in spelling.

  • Shannon Craven

    The biggest difference between advice and advise, aside from noun/verb (which is the perfect distinction) is that they are pronounced differently. As someone mentioned before – the “c” has an “s” sound and the “s” has a “z” sound. This makes it so confusing to me (as an American) as to why any American (presumably knowing the proper pronunciation of both words) would confuse the written use of the two. If you say you are going to “give advice”, it is with a c, not an s. You would not say you were going to “give advise(z)e” so I find the confusion puzzling. To a native English speaker, British or American, I would think the difference would be simple – possibly less so if you were unfamiliar with proper pronunciation. BTW – I always used to spell the word “licence”, but spell checker now autocorrects it as “license”, so I suppose that is now the corrected form.

  • Shannon Craven

    And for our ESL speakers, in American English it is generally spelled and learned, not spelt and learnt. 🙂

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