Ad or Add – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ August 15, 2017/ Uncategorized

ad versus add

What’s the Difference Between Ad and Add?

Ad and add are homophones, which means that they sound exactly the same when spoken, but they have different spellings and meanings. Despite having the same pronunciation, these words are never interchangeable.

Ad is a noun that means advertisement, a paid form of showing goods for sale.

  • I saw an ad for a new model of car.

Add is a verb that means to put two or more things together.

  • The second step of baking this cake is to add sugar to the eggs.

Now that you know the differences between these two words, let’s look at them in context to ensure you don’t confuse one for the other.

Using Ad in a Sentence

When to use ad: Ad is a shortened form of the word advertisement. It means a commercial or other paid announcement that informs people of something that is for sale.

For example,

  • An ad that airs during the Superbowl can cost many millions of dollars.
  • Many internet users have begin to use Adblocker to try to limit the number of ads they are exposed to while browsing online.

Ad also appears in some Latin expressions, in which it means to:

  • ad hoc: created for a specific purpose
    • The government has formed an ad hoc committee to address the sewage problems.
  • ad nauseum: done so much that one becomes nauseated
    • My sister sings her favorite song over and over ad nauseum.
  • ad infinitum: to infinity
    • Sometimes I feel like my education will go on and on ad infinitum. I won’t graduate for seven more years!

The noun advertisement also comes from Latin, from advertere, which means to turn toward.

Using Add in a Sentence

When to use add: Add is verb that means to increase through joining things together. It often appears in the context of arithmetic, in sums.

  • Students must learn to count, then add, then subtract, when starting elementary school.
  • It is dangerous to add chemical together without knowing what they are first.

Add also appears in some expressions:

  • to add fuel to the fire: to make a bad situation worse or extended
    • The two children finally are beginning to stop fighting. Don’t add fuel to the fire by reminding them why they were angry at one another.
  • to add up: to add together
    • Add up these numbers together to get the final cost of your renovations.
    • The police say he is the murderer, but he has an alibi. It doesn’t add up!
  • to add insult to injury: to make someone who is injured feel bad emotionally as well
    • He walked face first into the pole and hurt his nose. To add insult to injury, all of his classmates started laughing at him.

As you can see in the second expression, add up, can refer to numbers or an abstract concept.

Remembering Ad vs. Add

The spelling of ad and add can act as a mnemonic device to help you to remember which word is which.

Ad is spelled with only one d, and it is a very short word. Ad is also a shortened form of advertisement. In other words, the short spelling is used for the shortened form.

Add has two d’s. Another way to think of this is that add has one d, and then adds another.

  • Ad is short for advertisement, both of which have only one d.
  • Add is related to addition, both of which have two d’s.

Outside Examples

  • It was 1991, and Robert Bettinardi had stopped into a suburban golf shop for something when he noticed an ad on the wall, Sam said. The ad was for a putter milled on a Bridgeport, a vertical milling machine invented in 1938. –Chicago Tribune
  • For some, the ad marked a step away from a movement for black women. “It seems like Carol’s Daughter did what many companies tend to do — feature only lighter-skinned women of color, because they’re considered more palatable to mainstream society,” wrote blog Brown Sugar Beauti. –LA Times
  • S. payrolls surged for the second straight month in July as employers added 209,000 jobs, underscoring that hiring remains robust despite a tight labor market making it tougher to find workers. –USA Today
  • Texas scraps some toll roads while other states add more –Houston Chronicle

Quiz: Add vs. Ad

Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either add or ad in the correct form.

  • Nowadays many people rely on a calculator to _________ simple sums.
  • The woman hates TV _______ so much that she watches all of her shows on Netflix in order to avoid them.
  • Research shows that the average person sees about 5000 ________ per day.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use ad or add? These words sound completely alike. However, they have different meanings and can never be interchanged.

  • Ad is a noun that is short for advertisement. It refers to a way to market goods for sale.
  • Add is a verb that refers to putting numbers (or other items) together.

Despite the similar spellings, it is important not to confuse these two words.


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