Aid vs. Aide: What’s the Difference?

The English language is full of confusing words that sound alike and are spelled alike. Today’s two words are no exception.

Aid and aide are homophones, which means they sound the same when verbally spoken, but they are spelled differently and have different meanings.

What is the Difference Between Aid and Aide?

In this post, I want to talk about the differences between these two words: aid vs. aide. I will go over their definitions and their uses in a sentence. Plus, at the end of the post, I will give you a trick to easily remember the difference.

After reading this post, you won’t even again second-guess yourself by thinking, “Should I use aid or aide?”

When to Use Aid

aid versus aide grammarWhat does aid mean? Aid can function as a noun and a verb, and its general meaning has to do with material help or assistance (especially economic).

Aid as a Noun:

  • If you cannot afford college, you can apply for financial aid.
  • The troops gave aid to the civilians caught up in the war zone.
  • The pledge of additional aid came as diplomats reported progress toward a deal that officials believe will minimize future warming and spare the planet from the most calamitous environmental impacts of climate change. –The Washington Post

Aid as a Verb:

  • Politicians across the country sought to aid veterans get proper health care.
  • The American Red Cross aided the victims of the natural disaster.
  • Shattenkirk made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 7:42 into the second period, aided by a screen from David Backes in front. –USA Today

Aid can also be used to mean machines or devices that assist or aid someone with something.

  • A hearing aid.
  • A visual aid.
  • A mobility aid.

Common Phrases That Use Aid

To Aid and Abet: to encourage or assist someone in doing something wrong or illegal.

  • He aided and abetted the crime.

In Aid of: in support of; for the purpose of raising of raising money for.

  • The canned-food drive in aid of the homeless.

This second phrase is chiefly British.

When to Use Aide

aides vs aids or aides meaningWhat does aide mean? An aide is an assistant or helper. Aide is only used as a noun and usually refers to the assistant of an important person, especially a political leader.

  • His top aide said there was nothing to worry about.
  • One aide blasted the mayor for his failure to “manage the homeless crisis” and vowed the state would “step in.” –New York Post

Aide is most likely a shortened version of the word aide-de-camp, which is a borrowed word from French meaning a military officer acting an assistant to a superior officer.

  • He was an aide-de-camp to Gen. William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812 and edited his father’s writing. –Time Magazine

What is the Plural of Aide?

The plural of aide is aides, not to be confused with the disease aids.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Here is a helpful trick you can use to remember aide vs. aid in your writing.

If you have so much that you need a helper, you might get an aide. Aide and helper both have “E’s” in them.

You could also remember that aide is not a verb, so you will usually see an article nearby.

  • An aide
  • The aide

Summary

Is it aide or aid? Of course, that depends on the context of your sentence.

Aid is some form of help or assistance. Military aid, financial aid, disaster relief aid. It can be a verb and a noun.

Aide is a helper or assistant, usually to an important person. It is only a noun.

[i]
[i]