Notice vs Notification vs Notify (Your best guide)

Have you ever confused these words? The meanings are similar but the word types and the word uses are different. These words are used with different grammar. Here are some simple breakdowns to explain the difference.

Notice vs Notification (nouns)

A notice is written or printed information, often placed where it can be easily seen by many.
There was a notice on the door saying that today’s class has moved to tomorrow.
A notification is the act of giving official information to someone. This is more direct.
I should receive an email notification next week.

*An easy way to remember – A notice is something you see. A notification is something you get.

Notice vs Notify (verbs)

To notice is to focus on or become aware of somebody/something
Did you notice the watch Ted was wearing? It looks expensive.
To notify is to formally or officially give someone information about something
The apartment manager has notified everyone about the new parking rules.

Notice vs Notification vs Notify

Notice vs Notification

notice noun ① a sheet of paper giving written or printed information, usually put in a public place

  • There was a notice on the board saying the class had been canceled.
  • The notice apologized for any customer inconvenience caused by the error.

②information or a warning given in advance of something that is going to happen

  • I’m sorry it’s such short notice – we didn’t know ourselves until today.
  • Collin was given a trespass notice, he is not allowed to go back on the property.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries notice

notification noun official information of something; the act of giving or receiving this information

  • advance/prior notification (= telling somebody in advance about something)
  • You should receive (a) notification of our decision in the next week.”

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries notification

Notice vs Notification (nouns)

Notice vs Notify

notify verb to formally or officially tell somebody about something

  • You must notify us in writing if you wish to cancel your subscription.
  • The car rental company didn’t notify me to confirm my reservation.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries notify

notify VS notice - We can notify you by letter, email or telephone.

We can notify you by letter, email, or telephone.

notice verb to see or hear somebody/something; to become aware of somebody/something

  • The first thing I noticed about the room was the smell.
  • Did you notice how Rachel kept looking at her watch? I think she wants to leave.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries notice

Notice vs Notify (verbs)

Notice or Notification

We often see the word notification used with social media and other online accounts. Usually, a notification will be sent to us when someone interacts with our post, video, image, etc.

  • Most social media platforms have a notification page on their websites to help you manage how often you receive information from them. 

Any kind of activity on your accounts will often result in a notification. For example, if you log into your Gmail account from a new device Gmail will send you a notification to make sure that it was really you who was logging in.

Gmail also sends you a notification when you have a new message.

These notifications are sent directly to you, they are personal and more direct.

*A notice is usually something meant to give information to many people, to anyone who happens to see the notice.

Notice vs Notify part 2

One of my private students confused the words notify and notice. He told me:

  • “The car rental company didn’t notice me to confirm my reservation.” X Incorrect

This is not natural English, and it has a completely different meaning than what he wanted to say.

  • “The car rental company didn’t notify me to confirm my reservation.” ✔ OK

We can understand from the definitions above that the meaning of these two verbs is quite different. 

I think the confusion comes from trying to use the NOUN notice as a verb. Do you remember the definition for the NOUN notice.

*Notices are often announcements placed somewhere so people can see them easily.

  • There was a notice on the board saying the class had been canceled.
  • A public notice about the planned development was pinned to the wall.

The verb notify is to officially tell someone some information. This meaning also has an official feeling so this is why these two words are often confused by non-native speakers.

Remember that notify me means to give me some information. To notice me means to see me and pay attention to me.

If a company or an organization didn’t notice you, the meaning is quite different and your sentence may sound unusual. When the noun notice is used to describe an announcement or information it will follow an article. 

  • There was a notice on the board
  • A public notice

The verb form of notice is not used to talk about receiving official information. Unless the sentence was something like this:

  • Did you notice the sign on the shower room door today? The school is doing repairs from 3:00. That means we can’t take a shower after practice!

The sign on the door is also a notice, but we wouldn’t say “Did you notice the notice?” That’s a bit strange. The most natural way to say this sentence would be “Did you see the notice on the shower room door?”

Notice Vs Notification Vs Notify – Conclusion

If you want to talk about giving or receiving official information you need to use the verb notify.

  • My credit card company notified me that my card was used online in Australia. I think someone has stolen my credit card number!
    (Notified is a verb in this sentence.) 

If you are describing official information that was given directly to someone, you will use the noun notification.

  • I received notification from my credit card company that my card was used online in Australia.
    (Notification is a noun in the sentence that follows the verb received)

If you use the noun notice it will often follow an article (A, AN, or THE) and you will be talking about a document that is displayed somewhere for people to see.

  • There is a notice on the wall of my bank warning people to protect their credit card information.
    (Notice is a noun in this sentence that follows the article a

Thanks for reading my post and I hope that it answers your question about these commonly confused English words. You’ll find links to many more confusing English blog posts at the link below. Find answers to some of your other questions about Confusing English words.

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