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Express Yourself: Practice makes perfect (or is it practise…?)

Miscellaneous - 24th March 2010

We’ve noticed some confusion in the media lately about the difference between “practice” and “practise”.

Conventions in American English differ but with good old-fashioned English English – the original and best! – the important thing to remember is that “practice” is the noun and “practise” is the verb.

A doctor has a practice, therefore; footballers might have a practice session; and we can say that the practice of spelling correctly is an admirable thing.

But when we are talking in verbs, that same doctor is practising medicine; the footballers are practising their ball control; and lucky children are practising their spelling in tests at school.

The same principles often apply to nouns and verbs with similar “-ce” and “-se” endings, such as licence and license (e.g. “My driving licence [noun] means that I am licensed [verb] to drive a car.”).

And the point of all this practice? To make perfect, of course. As the legendary Gary Player once said, when accused of just being a lucky golfer: “I am lucky. And you know what, the more I practise, the luckier I get!”