the difference between words: advice and advise

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Last week, I received an email from a reader in India asking me to explain the difference between “advice” and “advise”. So that is what I will write about today.

Basically, the difference between these two words is very simple: “advice” is a noun, and “advise” is a verb. Both are used to talk about giving or receiving suggestions from another person about how to solve a problem. For example:

I had a problem with my boyfriend, so I asked my friend for her advice.

I don’t know what to wear for my job interview. Can you give me some advice?

A: I have a problem with my neighbor. He’s really loud at night.

B: Take my advice, and call your landlord. I had the same problem and that worked for me.

My friend advised me to read this book in order to improve my computer skills.

I don’t know any good places to eat here. Can you advise me as to where I can go?

Your new boss can be quite short-tempered. I advise you not to be late for work.

The verb “advise” is much more formal than the noun “advice”. Therefore, in regular conversations, English speakers will usually use “advice”. If you want to sound very formal for a business situation, you can use “advise”.

Speaking of “advice”, I would like to give my readers a recommendation. Many people ask me how they can improve their English in their free time. My advice is to read in English all the time. However, if you read newspapers or novels, the language in them is not conversational; it’s too formal. So my recommendation is to read an advice column. This is a newspaper column which is published everyday in which people write letters asking for advice about personal problems. These letters are a wonderful source of natural conversational English. Also, the letters are short, which is good for people who are very busy. The one I recommend is called Dear Abby. The website version is at this URL:

www.uexpress.com/dearabby/

I will add this link to my blog. I think people will be able to learn a lot of useful expressions and language from this advice column.

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