17th March 2015
Word Choice: Practice vs. Practise
If you read British news sources or websites online, you may have noticed that sometimes they spell “practice” as “practise.” Why do they do this? Because British people like to complicate everything!
In the UK, the spelling “practise” is used for the verb form of the word. As such, when describing the action of practicing something, in the UK they would write:
I like to practise my fire-eating act for two hours a day.
Of course, in the U.S., we would spell this as “practice.”
Thankfully, in the UK, they do at least use the “correct” spelling for the noun form. As such, if a Brit were describing the concept of practice, this would be the correct spelling:
Practice makes perfect!
It is also correct when referring to a particular example of someone having practiced something:
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All that practice at lion taming is really paying off!
Or when referring to the customary or established way of doing something:
Medical practice demands exceptional attention to detail.
Practice or Practise?
Luckily, in the US, this isn’t an issue, as the spelling “practice” is used for both the noun and verb forms, so we have it pretty easy!
The only time you might need to use the British spelling is if you are writing for an audience outside the United States. “Practise” is used by most other versions of English, including Australian and Canadian English (although “practice” is sometimes used for the verb in Canada, too).
Even if you don’t need to use it yourself, however, it’s good to keep this spelling difference in mind so you don’t get confused next time you come across it online!
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