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Practice vs. Practise: What’s The Difference?

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If you’ve ever wondered why it’s spelled practice in some contexts and practise in others, it mainly comes down to British versus American spelling. But which is which?

Quick summary

In British English and other varieties, the spelling practise is used as a verb and the spelling practice is used as a noun. American English uses practice as both the noun and verb form (avoiding practise altogether).

When to use practise or practice

In American English, the spelling practice is the only one commonly used—and it’s used for both the noun (commonly meaning “habit or custom” or “repeated exercise to acquire a skill”) and the verb (commonly meaning “to do something repeatedly in order to master it” or “to pursue as an occupation or art”).

In British English and other varieties (including those used in Canada, Australia, and other places), a distinction is made between the verb the noun form by varying the spelling: the noun is spelled practice (just like in American English) and the verb is spelled practise

For example, in these varieties, the following sentence may be used:

  • It is good practice to practise daily.

In American English, the spelling practise is usually never used.

The distinction may sound strange, but there’s another case in which this happens, and it’s not unique to British English.

What other words can end in –ice and –ise?

While Britain and American can’t quite agree on how to use practice vs. practise, they can at least agree on advice and advise.

In this case, advise is used as the verb (as in She advised him against it), while advice is the noun (as in He ignored her advice and did it anyway).

WATCH: Advice vs. Advise

However, the above convention is not true of all –ice words. Service is a word in which both the verb use (I asked them to service my car) and the noun use (They provide great service) use the same -ice ending.

Similarly, there are also several words that end in -ise for both the verb and noun forms, regardless of which variety of English is being used, such as promise, surprise, merchandise, and franchise.

Why do these endings vary?

The British often use -ise for verbs (organise, civilise, realise), but that doesn’t mean the -ize ending (organize, civilize, realize) is unique to American English. Preference is divided in the UK (with the Oxford English Dictionary favoring -ize, for example). Examples of organize date all the way back to 1425.

The use of -ise or -ize often depends in part on a word’s origin. The ending -ize corresponds to words of Greek origin, while -ise is often rooted in French. The variation seen in practice and practise is derived from the Old French words pratiser and practicer.

Curious about more differences between American and International English? Flip through this: A Glimpse Into The Differences Between US, UK, And Aussie English.

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