Please Note - A Note is Not a Notice

Dear CAE candidates,

I hope you didn't have to suffer through a heatwave like I just did - it was awful. Just lying on the sofa all day feeling sorry for myself, then not being able to sleep at night. Waah! Anyway it's cooled off now so here's a quick vocabulary tip:

What's the Difference Between Note and Notice?

Do you have a noticeboard at work or in your school? It's where you put notices (written announcements).

As a verb, notice is used like 'observe':

- "Oh my god did you notice his hands? They were covered in bites!"

- "Sandra, I notice that there is no cake left in the fridge. That's strange because you ate your cake last night and I was saving mine for lunch today. And I notice that you have cake crumbs on your jumper. So my question is: Sandra, did you eat my cake?"

- "My girlfriend never notices when I've had a haircut. That's why I think it's okay to cheat on her."

So what about note? You know what a Post-it note is. Here's a picture of Marilyn Monroe made of Post-it notes:

Notes are little messages that you leave for yourself or others. My desk is covered with Post-its, but I also make notes in my diary, in the margins of books, and sometimes on my hand.


Don't tell your English teacher that you made a notice in your diary. You made a NOTE in your diary. 

Do use notice when talking about things you have seen.


Some idioms with note and notice

to hand in your notice (= quit your job) --- When my boss asked me to work on Saturday again, I knew it was time to hand in my notice. I still have to work my notice period, which is three months, but I just feel so relieved.

to strike the wrong note (= do something inappropriate) --- His joke about bankers struck the wrong note, because most of the men at the wedding worked for Credit Suisse.

at a moment's notice (= very quickly) --- If Heidi Klum wants to meet me I'll be ready at a moment's notice.

to take no notice of (= don't pay attention to) --- I take no notice of the daily movements on the stock exchange. All that matters is what happens over a long period, such as ten years.