This is by request. A friend asked me how to tell the difference between patients and patience. I admit to being stumped for a while. Personally I don't find this one confusing, but many people seem to. I see the mistake all the time. I think it may have something to do with the fact that both of them come from the word patient.
Patients is the plural of patient. A person who goes to a doctor.
Patience is the virtue that a patient person is said to have.
Yup. I could be a patient (virtue) patient (of a doctor). And patients (of a doctor) need to have patience (virtue that keeps them from going crazy while waiting).
Here are some possible ways to remember:
The group of people who go to the doctor (patients) is the plural, so an "s" is added to the end of the singular (patient). The virtue (patience) has the same ending ("ence") as another virtue, silence.
Or, patients with an "s" are sick, patience with a "c" is having an attitude of wait and "c"/see. That one is courtesy of my husband who tends to be more clever than me.
Feel free to add to these if you like.