Practice vs. Practise: What’s the Difference?

Even though English speakers in the U.K. and North America use English in mostly the same ways, small differences persist. Many of these differences are in the spelling of words.

Practice and practise are two spellings of the same word. The only differences in meaning are in their usage in American and British communities.

Continue reading to discover if you should choose practice or practise, depending on your intended audience.

What is Difference Between Practice and Practise?

In this article, I will compare practice vs. practise. I will use each in a sentence and outline when it is appropriate to use each spelling.

Then, I will show you a helpful trick to use when you can’t decide whether to use practise or practice in your own writing.

When to Use Practice

Definition of practise definition of practice definitionWhat does practice mean? Practice can be a noun or a verb.

As a noun, practice has many senses. It sometimes means repetition of a task or activity to increase skill level.

For example,

  • If she puts in enough practice, Melissa can get better at writing.
  • Their discipline and practice set Olympians apart from casual athletes.

Practice can also refer to a gathering or meeting where training takes place.

For example,

  • Jerome, why weren’t you at soccer practice yesterday?
  • The entire team must run drills at each practice.
  • Panthers quarterback Cam Newton returned to practice Wednesday, although it remains unclear if the league’s MVP will play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. –The New York Times

Practice might also refer to real world application of a concept or method, like in this sentence:

  • In practice, the designs are never perfect, so you will still need to measure carefully.

Sometimes, a practice can be a business, especially in medicine and law.

For example,

  • Weingart left the children’s hospital to start his own private practice.

As a verb, practice means to repeat a task or activity to increase skill level or simply to perform an activity regularly, even without the goal of increasing aptitude.

For example,

  • Practice your scales so you will improve as a pianist.
  • You must practice your religious rituals to maintain holiness.

When to Use Practise

Define practise and define practiceWhat does practise mean? Practise is the British English spelling of practice. It can be used in all contexts outlined above, with one caveat.

Before the 20th century, practise was used as the verb form of this word in both American and British English.

Today, British writers and editors still prefer to spell the verb as practise, but Americans have made practice the standard verb spelling. Practice is also the standard spelling of the noun in both American and British English.

  • He grew up in Killaloe in Co Clare, down the street from Keith Wood, a fellow Munster legend, and the pair used to practise their hurling skills together. Both had notable rugby-playing dads; Brendan Foley won 11 caps and featured in the Munster side that beat the All Blacks in 1978. –The Guardian

Trick to Remember the Difference

practice versus practiseHere is a trick to remember practise vs. practice.

If you are using this word as a noun, spell it with a C to form practice.

As a verb, you will need to consider your intended audience. British readers are used to seeing practise as a verb, while Americans have shifted to practice for the verb as well as the noun.

You can remember to use practise as a British verb since it shares an S with the Spring Bank Holiday, a holiday observed in the U.K. which you could use to practise a hobby instead of going to work or school.

Summary

Is it practice or practise? Practice is used as both a noun and a verb; in both cases, it can have any of several different meanings.

  • The word is always spelled practice in American English. In British English, the noun form is also spelled practice.
  • The word is spelled practise when used as a verb in British English.

You can remember this difference because Spring Bank Day is a U.K. holiday that shares the S with practise, so you can remember to use practise as a verb with British audiences by imagining yourself practising a hobby on your day off.