‘Ad’ vs ‘Add’: What’s the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on May 5, 2023

Many confuse themselves by the difference between 'ad' vs. 'add.' Are you one of them? If so, you won't be after reading this guide. It contains definitions, usage examples, sample sentences, and valuable writing tips.

Are you pressed for time and in need of a quick answer? 

Here it is:

  • 'Ad' is an abbreviation of the noun advertisement, which means a notice displayed to the public.
  • 'Add' is a verb that means to merge, join, or combine figures, quantities, or concepts.  

'Add' and 'ad' are homophones that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. So, it is easy to confuse the two. However, after reading this post, you should have no trouble choosing the correct word.

When to Use 'Ad' vs. 'Add'

Knowing when to use words goes a long way to helping you become a better communicator. In addition, correct word usage shows that you pay attention to details and fully grasp written English language rules.

You know that 'ad' is a shortened version of the noun advertisement and that 'add' is a verb that means to combine or join things.

So, how do you know which to use and when?

  • Use 'ad' as a noun when referring to a notice or promotion posted publicly.

For example, I would use 'ad' to say something like:

                    Peter created a colorful ad for the block party he is hosting this weekend. He wants everyone in the neighborhood to attend. 

  • Use 'add' as a verb when referring to combining, calculating, or joining things.

For example, you might say something like:

                    Please add all the RSVPs you received for the party, so we know how many people attend. I do not want to run out of food and drinks.  

Use 'add' for calculations or to indicate that you are merging things, and 'ad' when discussing a promotion posted for the public. 

How to Use 'Ad' vs. 'Add' Correctly

So, you now know that 'ad' is a noun used when describing a sign posted publicly to promote an idea, event, service, or product.

For example:

  • An 'ad' is posted at the front of the neighborhood for the upcoming HOA meeting. You should attend if you want to meet our neighbors and play a role in shaping the community.

The second is a verb to indicate that you are contributing, combining, or calculating numbers, quantities, or ideas.

For example:

  • In a group of highly-intelligent and accomplished individuals, it can be challenging to 'add' input. I feel like they have already thought of everything.

You can also use the two words in the same sentence. But you cannot use them interchangeably.

For example:

  • Any concepts you can 'add' to improve the 'ad' campaign would be much appreciated.

Definition of 'Ad': What Does 'Ad' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'ad' is a noun abbreviation of advertising or advertisement, and it means:

  • A sign is posted in public to promote something.

Alternate meanings and synonyms include:

  • The Latin word for to
  • An advantage
  • A publicly displayed notice
  • A promotional sign
  • Public information (posted online or in the newspaper)

Phrases Containing 'Ad'

  • Ad hoc
  • Guardian ad litem
  • Ad interim
  • Ad agency
  • Promotional ad
  • Digital ad
  • Display ad
  • PPC ad
  • Social Media Ad

Other Words, Names, and Phrases Abbreviated by 'AD'

'Ad' can also be an abbreviation of:

  • After date
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Assistant Director
  • Airworthiness Directive
  • Assembly District
  • Athletic Director
  • Active Duty
  • Right Ear (used by doctors and medical professionals, especially on prescription instructions)

Definition of 'Add': What Does 'Add' Mean?

The Cambridge Dictionary definition for 'add' is:

  • Putting two or more amounts or numbers together to derive a total.

Alternate meanings and synonyms for 'add' include:

  • Putting two or more things together
  • Abbreviation for addition
  • To increase the total sum by another quantity or number
  • To comment further

Phrases Containing 'Add'

  • Add to
  • In addition
  • Add your two cents
  • Add your opinion
  • Add your thoughts
  • Add up
  • Add-in
  • Add-on
  • Add-up
  • Add insult to injury

Other Words, Names, and Phrases Abbreviated by 'ADD'

  • Architectural Design and Development
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Addition
  • Address
  • Addendum
  • Air Defense District
  • Advanced Digital Design
  • Authorized Digital Dealer
  • Automatic Document Distribution
  • Athletic Department Director

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Ad' vs. 'Add'

Now, let's learn how to pronounce 'ad' vs. 'add.'

Here is a quick pronunciation guide: 

'Ad' and 'add' are both pronounced according to the phonetic spelling:


How to Use 'Ad' and 'Add' in a Sentence

You should know the difference between these two common words, but let's look at some examples to ensure you thoroughly understand how to use them in a sentence.

  • Please review your ad before it prints in the paper next week.
  • Will you call the company to see how much the ad campaign will cost?
  • We have been running the ad for about a month and haven't received a single call.
  • Please follow the same ad template we used in the past. We want all of our ads to be recognizable by sight.
  • The ad content is excellent. However, the branding is not accurate.
  • Do you think the marketing department promoted your organization well in the latest ad?


  • We are happy to add you to our team of professionals.
  • The mathematician adds the figures with precision and speed.
  • Your math is very accurate. Do you add in your head or use a calculator?
  • Please add your thoughts on the project during the meeting today.
  • Adding comments is not necessary at this time. However, you will have an opportunity to share your thoughts later.

Final Advice on the Difference Between 'Ad' vs. 'Add'

When it comes to 'ad' vs. 'add,' keep in mind that the two words have the same pronunciation and are spelled similarly. However, they have different meanings.

So, here is a quick recap to ensure you know the difference:

  • You should not use 'ad' and 'add' interchangeably.
  • Use 'ad' when referring to an advertisement or publicly displayed material promoting something. 
  • Use 'add' when discussing addition, contributing input, or determining the sum of something.

If you need clarification in the future or would like to learn about other words commonly misused in the English language, look at the confusing words section here.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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