Adviser or Advisor: What’s the Difference?
If you are a student looking for advice on a particular major or academic discipline, you might go to the student center and schedule an appointment with and academic adviser. Or is it advisor? What exactly is the correct spelling for this position?
Today, I want to talk about these two words, both of which have the same meanings, and explain which of them is correct to use and when. After reading this post, you won’t ever confuse advisor vs. adviser again.
What is the Difference Between Advisor and Adviser?
Advisorandadviserare both nouns, and they refer toone that advises, such as a person or firm that offers official or professional advice to clients.
- President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, urged Pakistani civilian and military leaders on Sunday to do more to stop militants from using Pakistani territory to stage attacks in neighboring countries. – New York Times
- The group is a network of independently owned advisors who number just under 10,000 and sell over $14 billion a year in trips, mainly leisure and mostly luxury. – Forbes
- The Bulls on Monday announced the hire of Toni Kukoc as special adviser to Michael Reinsdorf, the team’s president and chief operating officer. – Chicago Tribune
- Monday morning’s wildly up-and-down stock market may have spread fear among investors, but financial advisors are warning their clients not to make rash decisions. – L.A. Times
You’re probably still asking yourself, “Okay, when do I decide which one to use?”
The short answer to this question is that both are acceptable formations. But, that’s not all that should be said on the matter.
When to Use Adviser
What does adviser mean? Although both forms appear throughout the English-speaking world, there is a clear preference among dictionaries, usage guides, and writers alike foradviser(with an “e”). This is the older of the two spellings, which is probably the reason for its dominance.
In fact, theOxford English
Corpusshows thatadviseroccurs nearly three times as often as doesadvisor . This preference in usage is probably what has led usage guides likeFowler’s ,Garner’s , and theAP Stylebookto listadviseras the preferred spelling.
When to Use Advisor
What does advisor mean? There is a somewhat popular myth that circulates around thatadviseris the preferred spelling in British English andadvisoris the preferred spelling in American English.
This is not true; in both British and American English, the traditional spellingadviserpredominates.
It is true, however, that the preference foradviseris particularly strong in British English, whereas in American English it isn’t quite so strong. The predominance ofadviseris marginally less in American English than in other English speaking regions.
For example, it is common throughout North America for official job titles to carry the spellingadvisor . You often see titles such as “financial advisor” or “academic advisor.” This can sometimes causeadviserto be seen as less formal, while anadvisoris seen someone who gives advice for a living.
The truth is, either advisor or adviser is acceptable.
Proper names, however, should always be spelled how they are. For example, the president’s “Council on Economic Advisers” should not be spelled any other way. That is the official spelling.
Adviser as an Adjective
Whileadviseris the preferred noun-form spelling, the adjectival form of adviser is actually spelledadvisory . Perhaps this is what leads to confusion between adviser vs. advisor. For example,
- Will you act as an adviser for my new company?
- Will you perform the advisory role for my new company?
Also, this adjectival spelling is unlike the noun form. While it is acceptable to use either adviser or advisor,advisoryis the only accepted adjectival spelling.Adviseryis not an acceptable spelling.
Remember the Difference
Both spellings are acceptable, but this does not mean that both are equally preferred.
One way that you can remember which is the preferred spelling is thatadviser(with an “e”) is the preferred spelling. Both words have “e’s” in them.
Adviseris both the earlier and preferred spelling of the two.
Advisoris sometimes used in the spelling of official titles.