Aid vs. Aide

What is the difference?


Aid and Aide are two words in English that sound the same and have very similar meanings, making it hard to figure out when to use one or the other.

The difference is important though, because one is a verb (an action) that means to help while the other is always a person who works as an assistant. It might not seem like a huge difference, but it's the kind of subtle distinction that sets apart beginners from more advanced English speakers.

Aid vs. Aide

Once we go over each word and check out some examples, you should have no problem remembering the difference!

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses


Aid

Aid can be a verb or a noun, and in both cases it refers to the same thing: help.

Helping to cook

The past tense of aid is aided

Aid as a noun means help or assistance. There are a number of more specific ways that it can be used though.

For example, aid can refer to the assistance that one country gives to another, usually in the form of money or something useful like medical supplies.

Medical supplies

Aid also means something or someone that is a source of help, like a dietary aid, such as Vitamin D or Iron, which people will sometimes take extra amounts of because they do not get enough from their food in order to be healthy.

Taking Vitamins

As a verb, aid means "to help or assist." You can aid someone else by giving them food when they are hungry, for example, or just by helping them in any way.

Giving food

Examples:

  1. I will apply for financial aid so that I can go to school in the Fall.
    (I will apply for financial help to pay for school, so that I can go in the Fall.)

    Going to school
  2. Her skills as an athlete will be of great aid to the team this year.
    (Her skills as an athlete will help the team this year.)

    An athlete
  3. The teacher aids his students by giving them extra lessons after school.
    (The teacher helps her students with extra lessons after school.)

    Helping a student
  4. When I get a cut, I use a first aid kit to take care of it.
    (When I hurt myself, I use a special kit filled with medical supplies that I keep close by.)

    First aid kit


Aide

The word aide is an easy one to remember and use, because it only has one definition. Aide is a noun and it refers to someone who works as an assistant to someone else, usually an important person.

Aide

The plural form of aide is aides.

The word originally referred to military aides, who would assist higher ranking officers. There are many different kinds of aides though. Congressional aides assist government officials like senators. Nurse's aides help nurses take care of their patients. A teacher's aide is another common type of aide.

Nurse's aide

Examples:

  1. The president has too many things to do everyday, so he has his aides take care of some things.
    (The president has too many things to do everyday, so his personal assistants do some of it).

    The President
  2. The professor has his own aide because he is very important and has a lot of work to do.
    (The professor is very important and busy, so he has his own assistant to help him).

    The Professor's aide


More Tips

Remember that aid can be a noun that means help or assistance, but it can also be a verb that means "to help" someone or something. Aide, on the other hand, can only be a noun and is always a person who works as an assistant to someone.

Since aide is always a person there will usually be an article to go with it, like "the" aide or "an" aide. Just look for those articles and you will know that they mean aide as in an assistant and not aid, which means help.

Aiding someone's reading


A Story to
Practice Aid vs. Aide

Edwin is a very good student. He likes to use his skills in math and science to aid other students who are not doing well. He tutors them and gives them the aid that they need to pass their classes.

Sometimes Edwin is so busy aiding other students that he forgets to do his own homework, and has to stay up late to finish it. He thinks that maybe he should hire an aide to do some of his work for him while he helps other people.

When Edwin is not aiding others, he likes to watch the news and see what is happening in the world. He sees that there is a flood in one town and they are asking for aid from the government to fix everything.

He sees injured people in the hospital being aided by nurse's aides with first aid kits. Edwin thinks that maybe he would like to have that job so that he can be of aid to people who really need his aid.

A flooded town


Quiz

Answer the following 10 questions and then check your answers. Each question is worth 10 points.

Part 1:

  1. Which of the following is a correct definition of aid?
    1. To follow
    2. To fight with
    3. To help
    4. Someone who helps others

  2. Which of the following is a correct definition of aide?
    1. To help
    2. An assistant to someone important
    3. A nurse or doctor
    4. Someone who is mean

  3. Which sentence is written correctly?
    1. The nurse’s aid gives the patient a new pillow.
    2. When I cut my hand on the knife, I got a bandage from the first aide kit.
    3. To pay for college, you can ask for financial aide.
    4. We were aided by a police officer when our car broke down.

  4. Which of the following is written incorrectly?
    1. After the earthquake, many countries sent medical aid.
    2. The senator has his aide bring him coffee every morning.
    3. She spends her time aiding homeless people by giving them soup.
    4. Healthy foods like spinach aide your body in fighting disease.

Part 2:

  1. I need my father’s ___________ getting the food from the top shelf because I am too short.
    1. aid
    2. aide
    3. aided
    4. aides

  2. The ___________ to the general was late for work.
    1. aiding
    2. aide
    3. aid
    4. aided

  3. I will ___________ my friend in his search for hi lost dog by making flyers.
    1. aided
    2. aiding
    3. aide
    4. aid

  4. My doctor told me that drinking tea with ginger ___________ with digestion after a meal.
    1. aids
    2. aid
    3. aides
    4. aide

  5. Calculators have been ___________ people with basic math for a long time.
    1. aid
    2. aided
    3. aiding
    4. aide

  6. The president’s ___________ scheduled all of the president’s meetings for the day.
    1. aid
    2. aides
    3. aid
    4. aided


Answer Key

Part 1: 1. C | 2. B | 3. D | 4. D

Part 2: 1. A | 2. B | 3. D | 4. A | 5. C | 6. B


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