Is it 'practice' or 'practise'?

When to use practice and practise

It’s easy to get in a pickle with these two words. Should we use practice or practise? It’s the same with ‘licence’ and ‘license’. I know, right?!

Depending on whether you’re in the UK or US, that’s another pickly bit to think about too.

I’ve got four different tips here to help you out. Let’s rule out geography first then.

Team America

In US English there’s only one spelling. It’s always practice.

I thought I’d nailed the best way to remember it: America and practice both have a C!

But they use license. Damn.

Now the even picklier stuff...

What’s the difference between 'practice' & 'practise'?

We’re just talking about UK English here now. Let’s be clear so we know what’s what.

Practice is a noun. A noun is a naming word.
Practise is a verb. A verb is a doing word.

And we can have both the noun and the verb in one sentence. So a C and an S. Aren’t we awkward…

Barbara was practising going backwards at roller skating practice.

A bit of advice

Practice and practise are spelled differently but the final /s/ sound is the same.

We can replace these tricky words with another pair: advice/advise.

This new pair sound different to each other though. That’s how we tell if we’re using the right spelling or not.

Advice has a C that sounds like an /s/. And advise has an S that sounds like a /z/.

This isn’t about whether the sentence makes sense when you swap the words in. It’s about whether it sounds correct.

You should be able to hear how the different sound at the end is used incorrectly below.

NOUN: Practice
Barbara couldn’t wait for more skating practice/advice.
Incorrect: Barbara couldn’t wait for more skating practise/advise.

VERB: Practise
Barbara practises/advises the French horn before bed. Poor Bernadette.
Incorrect: Barbara practices/advices the French horn before bed.

I’ve two more tips if this one isn’t doing it for you.

Swap it out

Swap practice for another noun:

Bernadette popped to the GP practice for her smear test.
Bernadette popped to the GP surgery for her smear test.

Swap practise for another verb:

Bernadette didn’t like to practise. She particularly hated practising on a morning.
Bernadette didn’t like to run. She particularly hated running when she didn’t have her sports bra on.

Ice ice baby. Sing it!

And here’s the last option to help you use the right spelling.

Practice is a noun. Ice is a noun > C
sing is a verb. Sing is a verb > S

I’ve untangled the difference between ‘that’ and ‘which’ too if you need.