Patients vs. Patience – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ August 30, 2017/ Uncategorized

patients versus patience

What’s the Difference Between Patients and Patience?

Patients and patience can sound the same, depending on how strongly the speaker pronounces the final t in patients. However, these two words have no overlap in meaning.

Patients is the plural form of the noun patient that means person under the care of a doctor.

  • This hospital has more patients than the doctors can treat. We need to hire more doctors and nurses!

Patience is a noun that means the ability to remain calm when delayed or during a long ordeal.

  • You must have had a lot of patience to make 1000 paper cranes.

Let’s look at a few ways to use these words in your sentences.

Using Patients in a Sentence

When to use patients: Patients is the plural form of the noun patient. It refers to a person under the care of a medical professional.

For example:

  • This is one of the largest hospitals in this rural area and it holds about 200 patients.
  • The receptionist must be careful to check all of the patients’ insurance information before admitting them to see the doctor.

There is a popular expression that uses the word patients:

  • doctors make the worst patients: experts or professionals often find it very difficult to accept advice from others
    • He’s sick but he refuses to go see a specialist. He insists that because he is a doctor himself that he shouldn’t need the help of anyone else. I guess it’s true what people say; doctors make the worst patients.

The reason that patients so often gets confused with patience is because the singular form of patients is the same as the adjective form of patience: patient.

Using Patience in a Sentence

When to use patience: Patience is a noun that refers to the concept of not becoming restless or annoyed when facing a long ordeal, or something that is wasting time.

For example:

  • Of course your son is having trouble sitting still in his kindergarten class. Young children are notorious for their lack of patience.
  • Patience is a skill which people must learn and develop over time. Too little patience can cause a person to give up too quickly. Too much patience can cause a person to waste time needlessly, or wait too long for an impossible prospect.

Patience also appears in some idioms and expressions:

  • the patience of Job: a great amount of patience
    • Saying that someone has the patience of Job means that the person has an almost inhuman amount of patience. This is because Job was a person in the Bible who remained faithful to God despite God singling Job out to Satan and allowing Satan to purposefully torture Job.
  • patience is a virtue: patience is a very good quality
    • Try not to act so annoyed when your friends are taking longer than you. Remember that patience is a virtue, and your friends will appreciate you for it.
  • to lose one’s patience: to stop feeling patient
    • After three hours of listening to a screaming baby on an airplane, I’ve lost all my patience.

Patience carries a connotation of being calm and quiet while waiting.

Remembering Patients vs. Patience

You can use the spelling of these two words to remember which word has which meaning.

Patients ends with s simply because it is a regular plural noun, all of which end with s.

Patience ends with ence. It is one of several noun forms with this ending that have an adjective form ending in t. Some other examples (with the adjective first then the noun) include present/presence, absent/absence, and innocent/innocence.

Outside Examples

  • “They are so dear,” Odenbaugh says. A bulletin board behind her shows the team aiming to save 3,000 newborns in 2017. Once they’re weaned and healthy, they’re placed in foster or adoptive homes by coalition members, making room for more patients. –LA Times
  • And that last symptom is what makes PTSD particularly hard to overcome with traditional talk therapy. Because patients can’t talk about and process the trauma, experts say, it lingers like a poison in their mind. –Denver Post
  • Gonzalez at one point appealed for calm and patience, saying officials were “trying to make it to everyone as best we can.” –Houston Chronicle
  • “I would like to thank the jurors for their patience and attention throughout this long, difficult case,” prosecutor Colleen Barnett said in a statement. “Jaime Melgar was by all accounts a wonderful man.” –New York Post

Quiz: Patience vs. Patients

Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either patience or patients, in the correct form.

  • The woman found that practicing yoga and meditation daily helped her develop more ____________.
  • The nurses are in charge of dealing with a dozen _____________ at one time. That is too many to handle.
  • A good leader should show ____________ as well as fast action, depending on what the situation calls for.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use patients or patience? These words sound similar, but they have no overlap in meaning whatsoever.

  • Patients is a plural noun for people to whom a medical professional is giving care.
  • Patience is the noun form of the adjective patient. As a noun, it means steady perseverance during a delay or difficult situation.

Use the information above to help you remember which word is which.

Answers from Quiz

  • patience
  • patients
  • patience