Advise vs. Advice

To whom do you turn when you have a perplexing problem? Do you seek out someone who has faced similar issues? If so, you undoubtedly pay close attention as they tell you how they fixed the problem. If they give suggestions, you carefully implement those that seem likely to benefit your situation. What is it you should thank them for giving you—advise or advice?

The S of advise sounds like a Z. To advise is to suggest what should be done, to recommend, or to give information to someone. In other words, to advise means to give advice: The lawyer advised the client not to sign anything the she did not read first. My mother always advises me to bring a jacket to the movie theater because the air conditioning can be chilly. Synonyms of “to advise” are “to give suggestions, to counsel, and to notify.” Here are some quotes from literature:

”Never love a wild thing, Mr. Bell,” Holly advised him.
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The C of advice sounds like S. When someone gives you a suggestion about what you should do, that’s advice. In this sense, it is an uncountable noun (that means you can’t have “an advice” or “many advices”).

Elena gave her daughter advice about what to say to her father.

Occasionally, you will see expressions that divide advice into units of measurement that can be pluralized, such as “pieces of advice” or “words of advice.”

Her daughter carefully followed her mother’s words of advice.

Guidance, counsel, and direction are synonyms of advice. A person who gives advice formally or on a regular basis is an advisor or an adviser.

How can you remember the difference between the noun form and the verb form? Just imagine what counsel your friends would give you on a hot day: “Take the ICE,” your friends would advise. The last three letters, -ice, of advice and the fact that the noun “advice” often pairs with the verb “take” will remind you of its function. You can also try to remember some famous comments about advice:

Here’s some advice. Stay alive.
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.
Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

You don’t have to handle your problems on your own. You can ask others to advise you. If their suggestions help you, you should let them know. And what is it that you should thank them for giving you? Now you know the answer: Advice!

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