If you're following US writing conventions, life is easy. Use "license." (In the US, "licence" does not exist.)
Those following UK conventions must know the difference between a noun and a verb because
"licence" is used for the noun, while "license" is used for the verb. If you're unsure how to spot a noun and a verb, don't worry because we have some workarounds.
A Video Summary
Here is a short video summarizing the difference between "licence" and "license."
Examples of "Licence" and "License"
Here are some examples of sentences with "licence" and "license":
This restaurant is licensed to sell alcohol. () ()
(Here, "licensed" is a verb.)
Tip for Brits
Try substituting the verb "to allow" with the verb "to license" to confirm it's a verb.
This restaurant is allowed to sell alcohol.
As this sounds okay, "licensed" is correct.
May I see your driving licence please? () ()
(Here, "licence" is a noun.)
Tip for Brits
Try substituting the noun "papers" with the noun "licence" to confirm it's a noun.
May I see your driving papers please?
As this sounds okay, "licence" is correct.
I am unable to give you a license because of your history. () ()
This is not worth losing your licence over. () ()
No confusion with "licensing" or "licensed"
There should be no confusion with "licensing" or "licensed." The endings "-ing" and "-ed" mean these are always from the verb; i.e., there are no such words as "licencing" or "licenced" in British English or American English.
"License" in America
If you're an American, use "license." (In American English, license is both noun and verb.)
A Video Summary
Watch a video showing 10 big differences between British English and American English.
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.
Download a Free Grammar Checker Download Grammarly's app to help with eliminating grammar errors and finding the right words.
(The Grammarly app works with webmail, social media, and texting apps as well as online forms and Microsoft Office documents like Word.)
"Smashing Grammar" (2019) Written by the founder of Grammar Monster, "Smashing Grammar" includes a glossary of grammar essentials (from apostrophes to zeugma) and a chapter on easily confused words (from affect/effect to whether/if). Each entry starts with a simple explanation and basic examples before moving to real-life, entertaining examples. All entries conclude with a section highlighting why the grammar point is relevant for a writer and top-level bullet points summarizing the entry. [More…]
"Grammar for Grown-ups" (2011) Vocational rather than academic, "Grammar for Grown-ups" is packed with real-life examples and keeps you engaged with a wealth of great quotations from Homer the Greek to Homer the Simpson. Straight talking and methodical, Craig Shrives draws on his years compiling Grammar Monster and as an army officer to present a comprehensive but light-hearted and easily digestible grammar reference guide. [More…]