Grammar Have Patience or Be Patient: Which One Should You Use? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Have Patience or Be Patient: Which One Should You Use?

Patience is a virtue, but it can also be a grammatical snag. That’s because even though we know the importance of waiting for the best things in life, we might at times be unsure of how to express that practice.

Specifically, a writer might wonder when or whether to use the phrases have patience or be patient in particular contexts. Let’s discuss that further to determine how you might make your choice.

The Difference Between Patient and Patience

The word patient has two meanings. As a noun, it refers to someone who is being treated in a hospital or other medical setting. That’s not the usage we are concerned with right now, so we’ll put it aside.

Our focus is on patient as an adjective describing the ability to continue or persevere with something with quiet resolve in spite of delay, hardship, or frustration. Most of us have probably heard the advice to “be patient,” which encourages us to seek our goals or desires in a peaceful, steady way.


I have to be patient in finishing the book I started to write.

Jerry told his kids to be patient while waiting for their pizza delivery.

Patience, on the other hand, is a noun that represents the state or quality of being patient—i.e., a patient person has patience. If you say “have patience” to someone, you are expressing a thought similar to “be patient,” although in a subtly less direct way.


If you want to be in proper shape for the marathon, be patient with the progress of your training.

If you want to be in proper shape for the marathon, have patience with the progress of your training.

If you ever find yourself unsure of the difference between being patient and having patience, simply remember that patience is the virtue (thing), and patient indicates the owning of that virtue.

As you can see, the variations between the expressions are minor. Which one you apply will be determined by whether you wish to identify the quality (noun) or describe something as characterized by it (adjective).

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4 responses to “Have Patience or Be Patient: Which One Should You Use?”

  1. Usman says:

    Can I say you have to be patience?

    • says:

      The word patience is a noun. Use the adjective patient with the verb to be. The following are grammatically correct:
      You have to have patience.
      You have to be patient.

  2. air mike says:

    Which article would you use when saying that you do not have patience for _____? I don’t know, but whenever I see people write “I have zero patients for dogs” or people or whatever noun you want to add, it seems incorrect as patience isn’t necessarily measurable in a sense that you would use the zero article.

    • says:

      An expression such as “zero patience for dogs” can be common in informal communication, but for daily formal writing, we would encourage a simple “no” as the qualifier (“I have no patience for dogs”). 

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