'Patients' vs 'Patience': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 13, 2023

'Patients' vs 'Patience': a tricky choice since they both sound the same. So what do they mean, and which one should you use? That's what we'll cover in this article.

In short, 'patients' are people who receive medical treatment and 'patience' is the virtue of being able to wait for something.

Difference Between 'Patients' vs 'Patience'

'Patients' and 'patience' are homonyms. That means they sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Here are some common homonyms that we've written about:

The Meaning of 'Patients'

'Patients' are people who are awaiting or currently receiving medical treatment. If you've ever been to the doctor, dentist, chiropractor, or another healthcare professional, you've been a patient. 'Patients' is the plural noun for 'patient.'

This is where it gets tricky. 'Patient,' the singular form of 'patients,' is also an adjective to qualify someone who shows patience. So the word has two different meanings. Don't let that confuse you too much, however, as it's beyond the scope of this article. Today, we're only concerned with the homonyms' patients' and 'patience.'

The Meaning of 'Patience'

'Patience' is also a noun and refers to the capacity to wait for something for a certain amount of time without getting angry or frustrated. Having patience doesn't have to mean you can wait for a long time, however. Just remaining calm at a traffic light for a few minutes shows patience. But certainly, being able to wait for a long time also qualifies as patience.

Patience isn't an easy thing, and it isn't a trait everyone possesses, but it's something most people strive for because it's a desirable quality. In fact, there's a famous idiom that sums this up nicely:

Patience is a virtue.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Patients' vs 'Patience'

'Patients' and 'patience,' being homonyms, are pronounced exactly the same way.

This is how they're pronounced according to the International Phonetic Alphabet:


The two words sound like this:


How to Use 'Patients'

Okay, so now that you know what the word 'patients' means, how about using it in a sentence? Below, I'll give five examples of sentences that use the term to provide you with an idea of the word's usage in context.

Dr. Wallace is incredible. His patients have reported a considerable decrease in symptoms since registering with him.

Unfortunately, the clinic in the city center is not currently taking on new patients.

There's a lengthy form to fill out if you're a new patient.

Losing a patient on the table is one of the most challenging things to face as a surgeon.

Excuse me; patients aren't allowed on this floor.

How to Use 'Patience'

Now let's do the same with 'patience.' Below you'll find examples of the word being used in a sentence, which will help you understand how to use it in real-life scenarios.

My patience is wearing thin with you.

She said she couldn't have kids because she doesn't have the patience.

It's just a matter of patience.

I had to change my own tire the other day. It requires a lot of patience!

Patients will have to show patience as the doctor is very busy today.

Note how the last sentence contains both 'patience' and 'patients.' So if you were wondering whether you can use both words in the same sentence, the answer is "yes."

Final Thoughts on 'Patients' vs 'Patience'

That concludes this article on the difference between 'patients' vs 'patience.' I hope this feels clearer to you now and that you feel confident you'll be able to spell the word correctly. And if you hear one of the words but can't see how it's spelled, use the context to figure out which of the two words is the one being employed.

And if you found this helpful, we have many more Confusing Words articles on our blog that you'll love!

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.