What is the difference between “advise” and “advice”?

This week the Scribe’s in-box contained this cry for help:

Dear Scribe:

Since our business is advising clients and rendering advice, don’t you think people should know the difference between “advice” and “advise”?  I see these words frequently misused and confused—and it makes me want to scream!

Sincerely,

Hoping for advice

Dear Hoping,

I’m delighted to advise my readers regarding this issue.

“Advice” is a noun meaning counsel that one person gives another.  “Advise” is a verb—it is the act of giving advice.  Here are some examples:

  • “Whatever advice you give, be brief.”  (Horace)
  • “The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on.  It is never any use to oneself.”  (Oscar Wilde)
  • “Dying is a very dull, dreary affair.  And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.”  (W. Somerset Maugham)
  • I advise you to drink Keystone Light.  (Mark Reber)

Here’s another thought about “advise.”  It really should not be used as a substitute for “tell,” “say,” or “inform.”  Bryan Garner calls such usage a “pomposity to be avoided.”  “Advise” should only be used in the context of rendering advice.  It shouldn’t be used when you really mean “tell.”

That is all for now …

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