Aid vs. Aide – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ July 25, 2017/ Uncategorized

aid vs aide

What’s the Difference Between Aide and Aid?

Both aide and aid relate to the concept of helping. However, aide can only be a noun, and it can only be a person. Aid can be either a verb or a noun.

Aide is a person who helps another. A similar word is assistant.

  • The powerful politician had an aide who helped him with many organizational tasks.

Aid, when used as a verb, means to help. When used as a noun, it means help or assistance.

  • The rich country aided the poor country by giving them monetary donations.

These two words have the same pronunciation, and both come from French origins. The common mistake is to spell aide as aid or vice versa. Let’s review a few ways to use and remember aide or aid.

Using Aide in a Sentence

When to use aide: The definition of aide is a helper to an important person. It is especially common when speaking of politicians’ helpers. They are also common in the medical field, as nurses’ assistants, and in educational field, as classroom helpers.

Only use aide when you want to refer to a person.

For example,

  • The family wanted their grandmother to stay at home, but because of her health problems, she needed a home health aide.
  • The school wanted parents to volunteer to be classroom aides to assist with some educational activities.

Occasionally, people want to use aide for something like a hearing aid because it is also a thing that helps. However,

  • Aide always refers people.
  • Aid refers to things or actions.

Phrases That Use Aide

There are also some common collocations with aide.

  • To serve as an aide to: To work as an aide
    • She has served as an aide to many political leaders.
  • To be a trusted aide: To be a close helper and advisor
    • The president’s trusted aide refused to talk to reporters.

Using Aid in a Sentence

When to use aid: The definition of aid is to give assistance as a verb and help as a noun.

For example,

  • The volunteers aided the police in the search for the missing child. (verb)
  • The athlete refused any medical aid, and continued to play in the game. (noun)

Aid has a somewhat more formal connotation than help. Therefore, you would not tell a friend in conversation, “Please let me aid you.” You would use it more in academic writing, or for discussing medical aid.

Phrases that Use Aid

There are some common collocations with aid.

  • Emergency aid: Assistance during a natural disaster or war.
    • America offered emergency aid during the aftermath of the hurricane.
  • Humanitarian aid: Assistance to help improve conditions for people living with big problems.
    • The area had major problems with poverty and disease, and required a lot of humanitarian aid.
  • To enlist the aid of: To ask for help with.
    • The family enlisted the aid of a psychologist to help their son with an alcohol addiction.

Remembering Aid vs. Aide

There is an easy way to remember the difference between these two words.

Aide means helper. Aid means help. Helper has two of the letter e. Help only has one letter e. Therefore, the definition with more e’s (helper) belongs to the word with more e’s (aide), and the definition with fewer e’s (help) belongs to the word with fewer e’s (aid).

Or, if you prefer, you can remember that employee is a helper for an organization, and ends in e, just as aide is a helper that ends in e.

Outside Examples

  • S. congressional negotiators are making progress on resolving a dispute that has stalled a bill to impose new sanctions on Russia, congressional aides said on Thursday, and one lawmaker said the matter could be resolved as soon as Friday.–New York Daily News
  • Joanne Kim, an aide to City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, lamented that in years past, the mall sometimes had trouble attracting and keeping retailers even though business was booming. –LA Times
  • They may be living on skid row, where they receive assistance from the missions but have trouble getting government aid available at downtown’s Patriotic Hall or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs campus in West Los Angeles, the report said. –LA Times
  • Piazza died as a “direct result of the extremely reckless conduct of members of the Beta fraternity,” aided by the permissive atmosphere fostered by Penn State’s Interfraternity Council, the grand jury found. –USA Today

Quiz: Aide vs. Aid

  • The student didn’t have enough money to pay for college, so she applied for financial ________.
  • It is against the rules to ________ another student with answering the test questions.
  • The young, kind _________ helped students with learning disabilities in the classroom.
  • More government ______ is necessary if any progress is to be made.
  • During the war, many women worked as medical ___________.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use aide or aid? When speaking, both words have the same pronunciation, so you do not have to worry about whether you are using the right one.

In writing, however, make sure to use aide for a person, and aid for a verb or noun meaning help.

  • An aide is a helper or assistant, especially in the medical field, the legal field, or in education.
  • To aid means to give assistance and aid as a noun means something that helps others.

In short, an aide is a person, and aid is the action of helping or a thing (not person) that helps.


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