Devise or Device – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ July 25, 2017/ Uncategorized

devise versus device

What’s the Difference Between Devise and Device?

These two words have some overlap in meaning. However, they are different parts of speech.

  • Devise is a verb.
  • Device is a noun.

Both of these words have to do with planning, although device has additional meanings.

Devise refers to the act of planning or inventing.

  • The general devised a way to surprise the enemy’s army.

is a noun that can mean a plan or scheme. It can also mean an object designed for a specific use.

  • You’re always trying to lie to me and cheat me! I’m sick of your devices! (plan meaning)
  • Please turn off all your electronic devices while on the aircraft. (object meaning)

Since these words have similar spellings and pronunciations, it is common for people to confuse the two. Luckily, by understanding them each in context you can avoid this type of error.

Now, let’s go over a few ways you can use these words in your sentences.

Using Devise in a Sentence

When to use devise: Devise is used as a verb to refer to the act of planning or inventing. Similar words are conceive, concoct, or formulate.

For example,

  • The coach will need to devise a play that will make the most of the team’s defensive line.
  • The villain devised a plan to kill Batman.

Phrases that Use Devise

There are no common idioms using devise, but there are a few very common collocations.

  • devise a plan
  • devise a strategy
  • devise a way

Although the expression devise a plan sounds redundant, as it means plan a plan, it is the most common collocation.

Using Device in a Sentence

When to use device: Device can be any contraption that functions for a purpose.

For example,

  • No one in the restaurant was talking to each other. Everyone was simply looking at their electronic devices.
  • The farmer invented a mechanical device to help plant seeds more efficiently.

A device is often mechanical, or especially nowadays, electronic item. Electronic device is now synonymous with smartphones and tablets.

Phrases that Use Device

There are a few collocations and one idiom using this word.

  • To leave one to his or her own devices: to let someone do as he or she wishes.
    • My daughter is old enough now that she doesn’t need a babysitter. When I leave her to her own devices she usually just reads a book.
  • explosive device: a bomb
    • The terrorists made an improvised explosive device and hid it in the crowd.
  • mobile device: a smart phone
    • How young is too young for a child to start using a mobile device?

As technology continues to improve it is likely that using device for electronics rather than mechanical objects will continue to grow.

Remembering Devise vs. Device

You can use the endings of these two words to remember which is the verb and which is the noun.

Ise is a common ending for verbs, such as advise, apprise, arise, and compromise. You can advise someone of what you devise. You need to devise a solution when a problem arises. You can compromise on something you devise a plan. If you can remember that many verbs end with ise it will help you remember that devise is a verb as well.

Device ends with ice, as do many other nouns such as choice, advice, mice, and simply ice.

Outside Examples

  • While some seem bewildered by a new routine devised to accommodate the major repairs to the tracks and signals at Penn Station, others said the commute wasn’t much different than normal and the transit agencies were exhaling. –New York Daily News
  • Detectives found that Black had devised and carried out a scheme to get money from Laguna Nursery by issuing checks to herself and reporting the checks as payments to various vendors, Cota said. –OC Register
  • The card is scanned with a handheld device when it is handed out and again when the guest with a card reaches the front of the line. The time in between the two scans is the wait time. –LA Times
  • More smartphone makers have stepped up water resistance on their devices, allowing them to survive brief dips under water. –USA Today

Quiz: Device vs. Devise

Select the correct word.

  • The scientist invented a new _______ which people can use to track their fitness progress.
  • The teacher _____________ a plan to get her students more interested in the material.
  • The ___________ emits a series of electronic pulses to communicate with any potential extraterrestrial beings.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use devise or device? Although these words differ by just a single letter, these words have completely different functions within the sentence.

  • Devise is a verb, meaning to plan or contrive.
  • Device is a noun, usually meaning a smartphone or tablet, but it can also mean any mechanical or electronic gadget.

Answers from Quiz

  • device
  • devised
  • device