Homophones: Are you losing your patience with patients?


If you’ve been following Make Your Copy Count then you’ll know that we’ve been blogging about how to handle various homophones. Homophones are words that are spelt differently but sound the same, such as complement and compliment or stationary and stationery. Often, people get homophones confused.

The word patient is a homonym. Homonyms are words that are spelt the same but have different meanings.

‘Patient’ has two meanings. It can refer to someone who is receiving medical care but it can also mean to accept or tolerate delays, problems or suffering without annoyance or anxiety.

The word ‘patient’ can become patience or patients depending on which meaning of the word you need. It now becomes a homophone and one that people can sometimes find tricky.


‘Patients’ is the plural form of patient referring to those receiving medical care.

Examples of correct use:

The hospital provided excellent care for patients

He treated his patients with care

The new ward can accommodate up to 60 patients

There were several patients in the waiting room



‘Patience’ relates to being accepting or tolerant of delays or problems. If you wait patiently for something or you are patient with someone, then you have patience.

Examples of correct use:

His behaviour was really testing my patience

His lack of patience caused the accident

Waiting for the results will require patience

Don’t lose your patience; it just takes time


How to remember which is which?

Patients can only be used as the plural of patients when it relates to those receiving medical care. You can think of it like this:

A hospital’s patients are their clients 

Just remember the ‘ients’ in patients and clients.


Patience, when it refers to tolerance towards delays and problems has a ‘c’ in it.

You can remember the ‘c’ in patience by thinking of any of the following words beginning with c and how they relate to patience.

Character- patience is a character trait

Clock- if you wait patiently you have patience

Carelessness- can be due to a lack of patience


Are your patients running out of patience?

Understanding these homophones requires a little patience but hopefully, our handy tips help you remember the differences.

If you’re still confused between patients and patience then here are a few more examples to help you out:

The patients waited with patience

The delays were testing the patience of his patients

There were no more patients in the waiting room

Patience is a virtue

We hope that we’ve helped you get the hang of these homophones so you don’t lose your patience trying to remember which is which. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see what else we’re blogging about.

At Make Your Copy Count, we love words. Let us know which homophones you get confused and we’ll help you work them out. Tweet us @MYCCUK

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