Language tip of the week: practice or practise?

Posted by on July 05, 2012

In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are based on areas of English (e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc) which learners often find difficult. This week’s tip is about practice and practise.

In British English, practice (a noun) should not be confused with practise (a verb). These two words sound exactly the same:
✗  Soldiers had only a few days in which to practice manoeuvres.
Soldiers had only a few days in which to practise manoeuvres.
✗  The important thing is to put it into practise.
The important thing is to put it into practice.

However, in American English, both the noun and the verb are spelled practice:
Waylans broke his wrist during practice and will be unable to pitch in tomorrow’s game.
How many hours a day do you practice the piano?

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Comments (7)
  • I teach people an easy way to remember the difference (for British English, of course):

    Ice is a noun, as is pract-ice.

    Hope this helps.

    Posted by Stevie Godson on 6th July, 2012
  • I teach people an easy way to remember the difference (for British English, of course):

    Ice is a noun, as is pract-ice.

    I hope this helps.

    Posted by Stevie Godson on 6th July, 2012
  • That’s a good one, Steve. Me, I still use something I’ve been using since I was a kid [and that’s going back several decades now 😉 ] and that’s, alphabetically, C comes before S and so does Noun come before Verb.

    Posted by Chiew Pang on 10th July, 2012
  • Hi there, I also use the tips as above but include advice & advise / device & devise

    Just a comment

    Posted by Pam Wells on 10th July, 2012
  • all good tips, thanks, though of course advice/ise and device/ise are pronounced differently, unlike practice/ise. I can’t think of any other verb/noun pairs off the top of my head where the pronunciation is the same but spelling different

    Posted by Liz on 10th July, 2012
  • An English friend of mine gave me this tip which he learned in grammar school in Bolton: Nelson’s Column, Victoria Square — this means you should use a “c” in the spelling if it’s a “noun” or “s” if it’s a “verb” — according to the first letters of the tip words!

    Posted by Gloria Matzig on 11th July, 2012
  • @Liz: Another such pair is “license” (v) and “licence” (n). Here also American English uses only one spelling, but in this case it’s the one with S.

    Posted by Odysseus on 31st January, 2013
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