By in Writing

A Little 'Advice' for English Language Learners

Advice is a good thing to have when you need it, especially if it's good advice offered by a wise and respected adviser . But it's not advisable to pluralize advice, as it's a non-count noun* that is always used in the singular form. So there's no such word as “ advices .” Big no-no, folks!

As for when you want to offer advice to someone, I advise you to take care in choosing your words. “Advice” is a noun but “advise” is a verb. The first one uses the soft “c” or /s/ sound. The second is spoken with a /z/ sound instead.

I know this is a difficult part of English for speakers of languages that use different constructs. Heck, it's even tough for some native users of English to make heads or tails of this one!

* In French we would also pluralize the word - “ conseils ” - so I completely understand the impulse to pluralize the noun “advice.” It's done in lots of other languages, but in English it just works differently. Non-count nouns are tricky! If you take the time to read about them, you'll gain more confidence in no time at all.

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Image credit: Magnifying grammar by PDPics/ / Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

Note: This content was originally published on Bubblews and has been migrated here by the author.

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MegL wrote on December 27, 2014, 6:07 PM

I am a native speaker of English and have never heard of this before! Yet, I would always use those correctly. It's amazing what you can learn.

melody23 wrote on December 27, 2014, 6:37 PM

I took a class in English communication as part of a college course years ago, it was one of those mandatory courses that you don't really want to take, has nothing to do with what you are studying but yet you need to pass it to pass your course. It wasn't a class I looked forward to because I already had an English qualification from high school at a higher level than this class and to be honest didn't think I should be forced to take it because of that, but I learned so much and its probably the reason I took to writing in the end. I will never forget the first day of class when we were asked what we thought the hardest language to learn as a second language was, we debated for a while and decided that it had to be Chinese, after all there are several versions of Chinese and they don't even use the same letters as we do! The lecturer then told us that we could be right, but had we thought of how difficult it is to learn English as a second language? Of course to those of us who are native speakers the difference between there, their and they're seems obvious as does the difference between to and too but to someone learning the language it must be so difficult. Ever since then I have so much respect for people who learn English as a second language, or who learn any second language for that matter. I studied French in high school and got top marks in my exam but I cannot speak more than a few words in conversation, as I found out when I visited Paris a few years back it was all I had in me to get directions to the apartment we were staying in!

Donna_Thacker wrote on December 27, 2014, 7:41 PM

The English language is meant to confuse you, lol. Some words have no rhyme or reason and just seem plain silly even though it is my first and only language. Thank goodness for spell check and grammar help, eh?

nbaquero wrote on December 27, 2014, 8:08 PM

Ruby3881 English is my second language so all these kind of tips are appreciated.
I also noticed you are migrating your content from Bubblews, that is a great idea. I think I will do the same with some of my articles once I delete them from there. Just curious, how long did you wait before you published it here?

bestwriter wrote on December 27, 2014, 8:10 PM

There is no end to getting a grasp of this rather moody language be it for 'learners' or for those who were born with it.

acrogodess914 wrote on December 27, 2014, 8:21 PM

It's odd but I've never heard of a non-count noun before today.

carmela wrote on December 28, 2014, 3:50 AM

English is my second language and i have to admit that i still have a lot to learn about it though it had been taught since my elementary days in school. its a very dynamic language thats constantly changing and its best to be updated and be reminded. thank you.

scheng1 wrote on December 28, 2014, 7:18 AM

Most of us pay attention to grammar only in school. Once we left school, we do not bother too much about it. Nice to read this article, and recall the lessons.

celticeagle wrote on December 28, 2014, 12:13 PM

I love the English language. With all its different parts from different languages. It is really very interesting if you read the dictionary and see how some words are put together.

AliCanary wrote on December 28, 2014, 3:30 PM

Yep, 'advice' is one of those aggregate words, like 'trash' or 'sheep', that don't get a separate plural form. I'm glad I learned English as my native language, because yes, it is VERY challenging.

Kasman wrote on December 28, 2014, 5:32 PM

I'm glad I am a native English speaker. I have heard it is a difficult language to learn.

lookatdesktop wrote on December 28, 2014, 6:31 PM

I find the written English language more eloquent than the spoken version. From my own personal experience. There are far less expletives in most written works than used in every day speech.

Ruby3881 wrote on December 28, 2014, 11:44 PM

Much of our English grammar and mechanics is never taught as a discrete topic in school. We learn the language at our mothers' knees, and nobody ever tells us the rhyme or reason for how we speak - even when there is one! But for a second language speaker or an adult literacy student who may not grasp the concepts naturally, it's important to learn these things in a more deliberate way :)

Ruby3881 wrote on December 29, 2014, 12:01 AM

I had a similar experience, but it was with a composition course. We all had to sit a lengthy English composition exam or take the course. I decided I'd rather get an extra English credit, as I needed a lot of them anyway. It turned out it was worth taking!

Ruby3881 wrote on December 29, 2014, 12:03 AM

I never really found I had much call to use either. Occasionally I need to look up a question of usage. And I do like that spell check warns me of my typos. But honestly, I spend more time adding words to the dictionary than I do actually learning anything from my spellchecker...

Ruby3881 wrote on December 29, 2014, 12:11 AM

I'm glad the tips are appreciated! I have some more on other sites, and yes I will be migrating more here from Bubblews. I don't wait at all once I remove them. But I'm moving posts that aren't well ranked, and that haven't had traffic in months. I also try to wait until I've published several new posts on PP, before I migrate the next one here.

Ruby3881 wrote on December 29, 2014, 12:17 AM

I like the thought of English being a moody language! Thanks for the lovely metaphor, Grace :)

Ruby3881 wrote on December 29, 2014, 12:18 AM

I don't remember it ever being taught when we were in school. We just sort of knew when not to use the plural...

nbaquero wrote on December 29, 2014, 7:10 AM

Ruby3881 Interesting, I have just finished backing up all my 300+ posts from there, and depending on what happens with them in January, I would be doing the same, that's why I was inquiring. Thanks for your response.

maxeen wrote on December 29, 2014, 12:26 PM

French has got to be the most difficult language to learn ,surely! I did a little Japanese and a little Russian . To me they were nowhere near as challenging as French.. even drawing the Japanese characters.

maramadalina wrote on December 30, 2014, 11:32 AM

I'm not a native speaker so your lesson is useful for me. Thanks!

acrogodess914 wrote on January 1, 2015, 6:42 PM

Perhaps that is it. It was taught, but never given a specific name for us to call.