“My advice is to do what your parents did: get a job, sir! The bums will always lose.”—one Jeffrey Lebowski addressing another Jeffrey Lebowski, on the subject of micturated-upon rugs.
This week, we will address another common writing conundrum: distinguishing the difference between advice and advise. When you face this dilemma, you may feel as helpless and confused as the Dude incredulously watching his assailant soil a rug that really ties a room together*. Rest assured, however, that your situation is not quite so dire.
[*Or like trying to find entertaining videos from The Big Lebowski that aren’t rife with NSFW profanity.]
A noun only, advice indicates guidance or recommendations for courses of action, often given by an elder, a knowledgeable person, or someone in a position of authority.
Example: George Zimmerman might want to find a consultant to provide better public relations advice.
Example: If you take the following advice from this magical self-written obituary, you just might succeed in life: “If you want to live forever, then don’t stop breathing, like I did.”
On the other hand, advise is a verb that means to recommend something to someone, often suggestions for a best course of action—in other words, to give advice. In a more formal/official sense, it can also mean to inform or notify somebody of something.
Example: Fittingly, I would advise you to read this riveting story about one über-portly woman’s quest for glory only when you have an empty stomach.
Example: The jealous wife sternly advised her husband against watching Cinemax, and then left to read Fifty Shades of Grey.
A Tip to Tell the Difference
When you want to choose between the two words, follow this simple rule: advice is a thing you give, and advise is an action you do. Stick with this mantra, and you’ll soon find yourself achieving great things.