Practice or Practise?

by Craig Shrives

Practice or Practise?

What is the difference between "practice" and "practise?"

Those following US writing conventions do not need to worry about the difference between "practice" and "practise." Just use "practice."

For those following British writing conventions, life is a little trickier. You must use "practice" for the noun but "practise" for the verb. For example:
  • Practice makes perfect. () ()
  • (Here, "practice" is a noun.)
  • Shall I practice my handwriting? () ()
  • Shall I practise my handwriting? () ()
  • (In these two examples, "practice" is a verb.)
Note: Some in the US are starting to follow the UK convention.
practice practise UK US
Infographic showing the difference between practice and practise.

More about "Practice" and "Practise"

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game) (Adopt the UK convention for this game.)

Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between "practice" and "practise."

Some Help for Brits

Tricks To Spot "Practice" and "Practise"

If you're following UK writing conventions and you're unsure how to identify nouns and verbs, you can use the substitution tricks below.
A Trick To Spot "Practice"

Try using the word "preparation" (or "lessons") instead of "practice." If the sentence still makes sense, then "practice" is almost certainly correct.

(This trick works because "practice" is a noun, just like the words "preparation" and "lessons.")

A Trick To Spot "Practise"

Try using the verb "to prepare" (in its various forms, e.g., "preparing," "prepared," "prepares") instead of "practise." If the sentence still makes sense, then "practise" is almost certainly correct. However, if you find yourself trying to use "preparation," then you should be using "practice" because both are nouns.

(This trick works because "to practise" is a verb, just like "to prepare.")

Example Sentences with "Practice" and "Practise

Remember that Americans do not need to worry about the word "practise." Americans can just use "practice." British writers do need to worry though. Here, for the Brits, are some examples with "practice" and "practise."

Example 1:
  • You need more practice.
  • (Here, "practice" is a noun.)
Try the substitution trick:
  • You need more preparation.
  • (This sounds okay. Therefore, "practice" is correct. NB: "Preparation" and "practice" are both nouns.)
Example 2:
  • You should practise more.
  • (Here, "practice" is a verb.)
Try the substitution trick:
  • You should prepare more.
  • (This sounds okay. Therefore, "practise" is correct. NB: "Prepare" and "practise" are both verbs.)
Example 3:
  • They practice in the office for 10 weeks before being sent into the real world.
Try the substitution trick:
  • They preparation in the office for 10 weeks before being sent into the real world.
  • (This is nonsense. Therefore, "practice" must be wrong. It should be "practise" because "prepare" sounds okay.)
Example 4:
  • Keep practicing that stroke until the whistle blast.
Try the substitution trick:
  • Keep preparing that stroke until the whistle blast.
  • (This sounds okay. Therefore, "practising" is correct. NB: "Preparing" and "practising" are both formed from verbs.)

A Wrong Example from a Magazine

As this came from a British publication, it should say "practises" not "practices."

practice wrongly used as a verb
(And, yeah, it's not his best side!)

"Practicing" and "Practiced" Do Not Exist in British English

If you're following British convention, there should be no confusion with "practising" or "practised" as these are words formed from the verb "to practise." In other words, for Brits, the words "practicing" and "practiced" do not exist. Look at this example:
  • I must keep practicing that accent. () ()

A Video Summary

Watch a video showing 10 big differences between British English and American English.

Interactive Exercise
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.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? principal or principle? cannot or can not? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words