Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Patients and Patience

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between patients and patience?

  • Patients are people receiving or registered to receive medical treatment.
  • Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Patients and Patience

The words patients and patience sound identical, but their meanings are very different.
(Note: patients and patience are homonyms, i.e., pronounced the same but with different meanings.)

Patients

The word patients is the plural of the singular patient. It is a noun that denotes a person receiving or schedule to receive medical treatment.

Examples:
  • We should be concerned not only about the health of individual patients, but also the health of our entire society.
  • Patients know in a heartbeat if they're getting a clumsy exam.

Patience

The abstract noun patience denotes the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. If someone demonstrates or has patience, they are described as being patient. In this sense, patient is an adjective so it is never written as patients.

Examples:
  • Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting.
  • Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
Note

Patients Is Always a Noun

As a noun, a patient receives medical treatment.
As an adjective, patient means tolerant.

In English, adjectives don't get a plural form. If you see the word patients, it is always refering to the noun.
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