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“Be Patient” vs. “Have Patience”: Knowing the Difference

“Be Patient” vs. “Have Patience”:  Knowing the Difference

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Learning the similarities and differences between and among certain English expressions can make communication more effective.

Hence, it is a good thing that you are concerned with knowing how “be patient” is linguistically different and even the same as “have patience.”

Our post today particularly covers this topic to make the English language less ambiguous, and therefore more accessible, for many audiences.

Let’s start with two quick answers to the inquiry.


What is the meaning of “be patient”?

“Be patient” is a command whose meaning can be expanded to the statement “You need to display calmness or tolerance while waiting rather than being restless or frustrated.” It is the opposite of “be impatient” or “be restless,” which are counterintuitive pieces of advice in real-life scenarios.


What is the difference between “be patient” and “have patience”?

“Be patient” means “stay calm or tolerant” in dealing with tedious situations. While “have patience” is synonymous with “be patient,” it bears a relatively softer and more formal connotation than “be patient.” “Patient” can be both a noun and an adjective, but “patience” can only be a noun.


A detailed comparison between “be patient” and “have patience”

Be Patient vs. Patience

People online are concerned with the comparison of certain English expressions like “sale” vs. “sell” and “seek a job” vs. “look for a job” in addition to “be patient” and “have patience.”

This can be attributed to the rise and spread of English as a global language as well as to the accessibility of information because of technological advances.

Based on the view of language studies, the difference between “be patient” and “have patience” could be explained through syntax or word structure, semantics or word meanings, and context.

Syntax deals with how larger units of meaning are formed from words; semantics is concerned with word meanings; while context focuses on the conditions surrounding an event or idea.

Let us use these three disciplines in making the expressions “be patient” and “have patience” less ambiguous:


The structure of “be patient” and “have patience”

“Be” and “have” are both auxiliary verbs in English grammar. While “be” is often used to denote existence, “have” is used to represent possession.

“Patient” can either be an adjective or a noun. The noun “patient” refers to the person who requires medical attention, while the adjective “patient” is synonymous with “calm” and “tolerant.”

However, “patience” can only be a noun with two different meanings. “Patience” can either refer to the virtue of forbearance or to the card game also known as “solitaire.”

Without any context and other linguistic elements attached to “be patient” and “have patience,” both expressions are grammatically well-formed.

This means that we cannot just conveniently reverse the order of words because the resulting statements would become ungrammatical and unnatural.

That is to say, “be patience” and “have patient” are both grammatically incorrect if and when the purpose of the thought representation is to ask someone to remain calm or tolerant.


(grammatical) You need to be patient while waiting for your turn.


(ungrammatical) You need to be patience while waiting for your turn.


(grammatical)  You need to have patience to achieve success in life.


(ungrammatical) You need to have patient to achieve success in life.


The semantics of “be patient” and “have patience”

“Be” and “have” are tricky verbs in English. In terms of meaning, “be” is often used to denote existence or actuality, while “have” is used to represent possession or ownership.

“Be” in “be patient” means “to become” patient or tolerant rather than restless or frustrated, whereas “have” in “have patience” means “to possess” some amount of patience or tolerance.

So, is there any difference in meaning and implication between “be patient” and “have patience”? And would you be misinterpreted if you use one over the other?

Well, there isn’t any serious semantic difference between “be patient” and “have patience” that would cause misinterpretation to your target audience.

That said, you can freely tell your child, nephew, or niece to either “be patient” or “have patience” if and when he or she starts complaining about school.

Example 1:

Child: Mom, I really hate going to school.

Mother: Be patient, son. Education is important.


Example 2:

Child: Dad, I hate doing all these projects.

Father: Have patience, sweety. You need to do all these things to understand the importance of diligence in achieving success.

However, based on the examples above, we could say that “be patient” contains a more assertive tone than “have patience.”

In other words, “have patience” sounds more thoughtful, polite, and formal than “be patient.”


The context in which “be patient” and “have patience” is used

As “be patient” may sound more directive and assertive than “have patience,” you can use each of these expressions in different contexts to calibrate your target connotation.

If you wish to be more authoritative, such as when you are commanding a child to remain calm in public, you can use “be patient” to achieve your desired effect.


(child throws a fit because of being hungry)

Mother: Son, be patient. The food is coming.

But, if your purpose is to provide a piece of advice to a relatively close colleague who is starting to become restless over a task, you can use “have patience” instead.


(colleague repetitively groaning because of a technical issue)

You: Have patience, Pat. The internet issue will be fixed soon.


In a nutshell, “have patience” is simply more formal and tactful than “be patient” if we take context into consideration.


Tricky expressions related to “be patient” and “have patience”

In terms of actual language use, the expression “be patient” is more often used than “have patience,” at least based on online corpora; this makes the former expression less tricky than the latter.

“Patient” falls under two parts of speech, and “patience” sounds almost the same as the plural form of the noun “patient” which is “patients.”

Due to these reasons, as well as the inherently ambiguous quality of languages, confusion among related expressions is a common event.

So, here are three of the most deceitful expressions related to the topic today that you should use with utmost attention:


Be patience

“Be patience” is something you have to avoid when you want to mean “stay calm,” especially in everyday conversations.

However, if you aim to be linguistically creative by personifying the word patience or using it figuratively, you may freely already use “be patience.”

Think of this personification process by adding a sixth character in the movie “Inside Out” on top of the protagonist’s five core emotions which are “Fear,” “Joy,” “Disgust,” “Anger,” and “Sadness.”

You have to take note, though, that the “be patience” structure and usage is only common in literary contexts; hence, usual conversations less likely entail this kind of language use.


Be patients

Be Patients

Using “be patients” is only grammatically correct when you are aiming to urge more than one sick person to seek medical attention.

Despite the grammatical acceptability, you would not easily encounter the usage of “be patients” in general conversations because it has a counterintuitive meaning and implication.

In the medical field, “BE patients” (i.e., “BE” is a form of abbreviation) can jargonically refer to “Barrett’s esophagus patients” or people with esophageal problems commonly due to acid reflux.

That said, using “be patients” when you mean “remain calm” or “learn to tolerate things.” is obviously completely wrong.  Instead, you should use either “be patient” or “have patience” in this situation. 


Have patients

“Have patients” is commonly used as a predicative element or a verb phrase in sentences with plural subjects like “they,” “we,” and “the doctors.”

For instance, you can say “The doctors have patients at the moment, so kindly call back later.”

The consonant “t” sound, particularly the second “t,” in the countable noun “patients” is commonly reduced or even deleted in actual speech, thereby making it sound similar to “patience.”

As this is the case, the confusion between using “have patients” and “have patience” in writing is understandable, especially for non-native English speakers.


“Patience” in American and British English

In the UK and other Scandinavian countries, “patience” is a term used to refer to the card game “solitaire”; the latter is mainly used in the USA and Canada.

“Patience” is a word of French origin, and this card game is basically a game that tests the player’s patience by painstakingly sorting all the cards.

If you have played “solitaire” or “patience” for the British people before, you would immediately understand why this card game is a great patience trainer.

In a nutshell, when someone tells you “Let’s have patience” in England, Poland, or Germany, and that person carrying a deck of cards, you should already know that that person is inviting you to play a game.

However, in the USA and Canada, you have to expect that “Let’s have patience” is a polite suggestion to stay calm or tolerant.


Frequently Asked Questions on “Be patient” vs. “Have patience”


What does “please be patient” mean?

“Please be patient” is a polite request that simply means “please stay calm.” If someone tells a person to be patient, that would probably mean that the person is demonstrating some degree of annoyance or discomfort.


What is the meaning of “a patient person”?

A “patient” person is someone who regularly displays calmness or composure in dealing with challenging situations. In this structure, “patient” is used as an adjective to describe the personality or attitude of the subject.


What is a synonym for “be patient”?

“Stay calm” and “be tolerant” are close synonyms to “be patient.” These expressions can be used to request someone not to get easily frustrated.




Many English words can have several meanings and even similar pronunciations. This highlights the importance of language learning blogs like today’s topic.

To make communication clearer and prevent misinterpretations, it is highly recommended to learn the grammatical nuances between and among expressions.

Join us again for some interesting discussions next time!