Although ‘practise’ and ‘practice’ sound exactly the same and have very similar spellings, the one letter difference indicates whether the word is being used as a verb or a noun.
Understandably, many people struggle to remember which term to use in any given situation, so spelling mistakes are common. In academic writing, this doesnâ€™t give a good impression to the reader. With our help, though, you need never mix them up again!
When ‘practise’ is spelled with an â€˜sâ€™, it’s a verb that usually means ‘regularly repeat an activity in order to get better’. It’s used when talking about skills, like speaking a foreign language, playing a sport or drawing. â€˜Practiseâ€™ would therefore appear in a sentence such as:
I practise playing the piano for an hour per day.
It is also used to mean ‘carrying out an activity regularly or habitually’, especially when discussing someoneâ€™s religion or profession. For example, we could say:
He is a practising Catholic.
Or we could say:
She practises law.
In each case, ‘practise’ denotes a custom being carried out.
When spelled with a â€˜câ€™, ‘practice’ is a noun. This refers to a habitual or established way of doing something. If a doctor practises (verb) medicine, for example, she or he is engaged in medical practice (noun).
The word â€˜practiceâ€™ can also be used to mean the physical place or building where a doctor or lawyer practises. For instance, a medical practice is somewhere you would go for a doctorâ€™s appointment.
It can also be used a more general sense to mean ‘apply an idea or theory’, as in the phrases â€˜she put her training into practiceâ€™ or â€˜practice makes perfectâ€™.
Practise or Practice?
Remember the basic rule: â€˜practiseâ€™ with an â€˜sâ€™ is a verb and â€˜practiceâ€™ with a â€˜câ€™ is a noun. As such, if the sentence seems like it refers to an action, ‘practise’ is correct. If it refers to a thing, ‘practice’ will be the term to use.