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Let me give you some really useful advice

By 22 August 2017Language Tips

This week’s post is going to tackle a word that causes many of you problems and it all comes down to your choice of 1 single letter: is it ‘s’ or ‘c’ that you want? Many of you are aware that the word has 2 forms noun and verb – but it is knowing which one you need in the sentence you are forming – is it advice or advise?

Advice

Let’s focus on advice the noun first of all. Advice is similar to information, which we give to patients about their health. Advice is also like information in that it is uncountable. Please do not write or say: ‘Zoe’s mother was given advices’, as it just makes your reader or listener feel a bit queasy. Generally speaking you can use it in its uncountable form:

Can I give you advice?

However, if you want to specify how much advice you are going to provide then, like information (or cake if this gives you a good visual to remember), you can add a number + pieces:

I want to give you 3 pieces of advice.

Less specific? just add ‘some’:

Mrs James mentioned the doctor had given her some advice about lowering her blood pressure.’

When using advice the noun, you need to use the right words before and after it. So, as you have seen from the examples, we ‘give’ someone advice but we don’t ‘make’ or ‘have’ advice. We can ‘take’ advice, which has the meaning of asking a medical professional for help about a problem e.g.

The physiotherapist recommended the patient take advice from a knee surgeon before making a final decision about surgery.’

In your writing task, you are likely to use it in a passive statement such as:

the patient was given advice to avoid heavy lifting for 1 week.

In this type of statement, an infinitive verb follows advice to detail what the advice is.

Having difficulties using advice or advise is not restricted to writing. It also causes problems with its different pronunciation: advice is pronounced with an /s/ sound and sounds just like ‘ice’ while advise is pronounced with a /z/ sound and sounds like the ‘s’ in realise.

Advise

So, advise the verb. Advise is the action of providing information (advice) to patients:

I strongly advise you to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke every day.’

As with this example, you can add adverbs in front of advise to emphasise your meaning. Other adverbs that collocate include: definitely, seriously, generally and specifically.

Advise can have a number of options after it. In the last paragraph was an example when advise is followed by a pronoun but it can also be followed by: an adjective-noun combination:

Physiotherapists advise regular exercise is the best way to regain mobility’;

a gerund:

I don’t advise eating soft cheeses during pregnancy

or that:

Mr Stevens was advised that his recovery would depend on his compliance with his prescribed medication.’

(We can omit the ‘that’ in informal speaking and writing).

Try it out

So, it’s over to you now. I have advised you of a few of the rules and you need to try to put this advice into practice. The main thing to remember is whether you are trying to communicate advice as a kind of information in which case you need the noun or advise as a kind of spoken action in which case you need the verb.