Aid versus Aide
When should you use aid and aide? If you are a high-powered corporate executive, chances are you have dedicated office staff that helps you organize your schedule, make appointments, and budget your time. If you have such an assistant, would you classify this person as an aid or aide?
- Aid, as a verb, means to provide assistance or support. When used as a noun, it means the help or support that has been offered.
- Aide is always a noun to mean the person or item that has provided assistance or serves as an assistant.
Let’s examine aid and aide more closely.
When to Use Aid in a Sentence.
Aid Meaning: Aid can be used as either a verb—with or without an object—or as a noun. When used as a verb with an object, aid means to offer support or assistance to or for something, or to facilitate the accomplishment of something. When used as a verb without an object, it means to offer assistance or help in general.
Example: “Relief agencies are sending supplies to aid the hurricane victims in the Bahamas.” [verb with an object] Source: New York Times
Example: “Law enforcement led to recovery efforts and volunteers aided.” [verb without an object]
Aid, used as a noun, refers to the help or support that has been offered.
Example: “Some aid is bypassing government distribution channels altogether, arriving on private planes and boats from people in South Florida.” [noun] Source: New York Times
Aid is either a verb that means to offer help or assistance, or it can refer to the assistance itself, thereby becoming a noun.
Phrases that Use Aid
Financial Aid: A noun meaning the monetary support either given or loaned to a student to pay for educational expenses.
- I received a scholarship and I qualified for financial aid.
Hearing Aid: A device worn in or behind the ear of a person suffering from hearing loss that amplifies sound.
- Grandpa forgot his hearing aid so he didn’t enjoy the guest speaker.
When to Use Aide in a Sentence
Aide Meaning: Aide is a noun that means a person or thing that provides help or acts as an assistant to someone else.
Example: “Pete Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, weighs in after Trump aide touts Pence’s meeting with Irish PM and partner” [noun] Source: USA Today
Example: “American political aide Sean Spicer had a humiliating debut on TV’s Dancing with the Stars” [noun] Source: Washington Post
Example: “My sister works as a teacher’s aide in a kindergarten classroom.” [noun]
Using our example from above, if you have an office staff to help you at your job, your assistant might also be called your aide.
Word Origin: Aid versus Aide
The word aid appeared in the English language before aide. It entered the language as a verb in the 15th century as an anglicized version of the French verb, aider, meaning to help. The noun use of aid, to refer to the assistance that was given, appeared at about the same time.
Aide entered the lexicon much later and an ocean away. This word traces its origins back to the United States around the year 1780. Like aid, aide was derived from the French word, aider. The Americans, however, incorrectly used the verb aider to mean the same as helper, keeping the -er ending to denote one who does the helping. Eventually, the r was dropped, and the word became simply aide.
Aid or Aide? How to Know Which One to Use
If you are using a verb to mean to offer assistance or help, then you will need to use aid. If, however, you are using a noun, you need to take care that you are using the correct aid or aide.
When referring to the actual help that has been given, then you need aid. When referring to the person who is rendering help or serving as an assistant, then aide is needed.
Remember it this way:
- Aide with an E means Everyone
Test Your Knowledge:
Let’s see if you can use the tips above to use the correct form of aid or aide in these sentences.
- The nurse’s __________ brought us another blanket.
- Strong coffee is my favorite study _______.
- We donated bottles of water to _________ the relief effort.
Answers listed below.
Recap: When to Use Aid or Aide
Even though they both originated from the same French word and they are pronounced exactly the same, aid and aide are not the same word or even alternate spellings of the same word. They each have different, though related, meanings.
- Aid is the act of giving assistance, and/or the assistance itself.
- Aide is the person providing the assistance or an assistant.