When to Use Advisor or Adviser

Instructor: David Boyles

David has a Master's in English literature. He has taught college English for 5+ years.

What's the difference between 'advisor' and 'adviser'? Nothing really, as both are widely accepted spellings of a word with the same meaning. But the different versions are more commonly used in specific contexts, and this lesson will walk you through those.

Some Advice on 'Advisor' and 'Adviser'

Do you need some advice on the difference between the words 'advisor' and 'adviser'? Well, let's take a closer look at them. According to several authoritative dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary, there is no official difference between the words' adviser' and 'advisor'. Both are accepted spellings of the word that means someone who offers advice or counsel.

The word is a noun form of the verb 'advise', which means to give counsel. The verb describes the act of giving advice, because verbs are action words, and adviser/advisor describes a person who does the advising, because nouns are people, places, and things.

But while both are technically correct, you do see certain spellings pop up more often in certain contexts. So let's look at a couple of helpful rules of thumb for when to use each spelling.

President Lincoln consults his advisers.

When to Use 'Adviser'

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 'adviser' is the older of the two spellings. In addition, it is still the more commonly used spelling in news publications and other common sources. It is commonly seen in situations like this:

  • Mr. Simpson retired as CEO but stayed on as an informal adviser to the new CEO.
  • Valerie Jarrett is one of President Obama's most-trusted advisers.
  • My friends Jane and Sally serve as advisers for all of my most important decisions.

Since it is the more common spelling, it is a good rule of thumb to use 'adviser' in most cases, especially in formal writing like business letters.

When to Use 'Advisor'

'Advisor' is commonly used as an alternate spelling to 'adviser', so it could be used in any of the sentences we just looked at:

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