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How do you spell it: practice or practise?

Is it practice or practise?

The British doctor practises medicine at his practice

You’ll find that the UK spell checker on your computer allows both practice and practise. Does that mean you can choose which one you like? If only life – and in particular English–were that simple!

No, when practice is a noun, it is spelt with c in British English:

What does this mean in practice?
We need to adopt best practices.
Practice makes perfect.

However, when it is a verb, it is spelt with s:

You must practise more often.
He practises medicine in London.

Of course, that means you need to know how to tell whether it’s a noun or a verb! But that’s not too hard. As a rule of thumb, a verb can have words like I, you or he before it, whereas a noun can have words like the, his or some in that position.

Thanks to Noah Webster,the 18th/19th-century American teacher and dictionary-maker, the spelling in US English is more straightforward. Both the noun and the verb are spelt with c:

Noun: It takes a lot of practice to get it right.

Verb: The team is going to practice this afternoon.
Verb: I haven’t practiced for years.

©2013 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

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© 2013 - Baxter Communications | Hilversum - NL