Device, Devise

Can You Device a Plan to Build a Better Devise to Catch a Mouse?

by Owen Fourie

When I took someone’s advice to follow his plan to get rid of the mice in my kitchen, I thought I had been well advised.

As it turned out, that plan worked, except for one stubborn mouse who refuses to be fooled by it. I have tried the different kinds of mousetraps, only to find that this creature is becoming an expensive rodent.

This is why I am asking if you can device a plan to build a better devise to catch Mick. Mick? Yes, he’s been here a while, and he has a name. Despite this, he has to go.

What’s that? You say you cannot do this because it’s not a proper request. Since when have you gone soft on mice? Oh, it’s not that. It’s the grammar. Get the grammar right, and Mick might bite the dust.

Let’s be quick on the grammar because Mick’s got to go.

Device is a noun

The word device is a noun. You will build a device to catch Mick in the first instance and other mice as the need arises. It will be a device to catch mice.

If you recall this phrase, “device to catch mice,” you will remember the pronunciation of device—the “ice” part of device sounds the same as the “ice” part of mice.

Devise is a verb

The word devise is a verb. Now that the grammar has been corrected, I understand that in order to build the device you will devise a plan

In this matter, you are an expert with much wisdom. You are wise.

If you recall this saying, “I devise because I am wise,” you will remember the pronunciation of devise—the “ise” part of devise sounds the same as the “ise” part of wise.

Try this device

Here is a trick to remember which word is the noun and which one is the verb. It’s the same trick that you can apply to advice and advise.

Think of the order of the letters in the alphabet:

  • n is before v
  • noun is before verb
  • c is before s
  • device is before devise
  • noun-device is before verb-devise

Using your device, I believe it has been well devised

The device you devised has worked. Let me introduce you to Mick. What’s that? You can’t stand the sight of a mouse! Well, he’s really cute, and he’s dying to meet his nemesis.

If the heading of this article is corrected to read, “Can you devise a plan to build a better device to catch a mouse?” you must say that you can, indeed, for it really works.

Shh! What was that noise?


If there are other words like device and devise that you find confusing, mention them here. Let’s find a way to resolve the problem. Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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