“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.
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.