Practice vs. Practise: Getting the Difference Down

At first glance, practice and practise may look like two spellings for the same word. While this is not inaccurate, it is not exactly the case. Learn the differences between practice and practise, as well as when and how to use both spellings.

Practice - Lawyer Holding Gavel vs Practise - Musician Playing Piano Practice - Lawyer Holding Gavel vs Practise - Musician Playing Piano
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The Difference Between Practice and Practise

In British English, practice is a noun and practise is a verb, whereas in American English practice is the spelling for both the noun and verb forms. Therefore, the main distinction is first whether you’re speaking American or British English, then the meanings.

In British English, the spelling correlates to the following meanings:

  • practice (noun) - the procedure of doing something

  • practise (verb) - the act of doing something

How to Use Practice in British English

The spelling practice refers to the noun form in British English, which is the "application of an idea" or "way of doing something." It can also refer to the establishment of particular activities or professions, such as medicine, law, sports, and business.

  • She has her own law practice.
  • I like the idea in theory, but not in practice.
  • He goes to soccer practice every day after school.

How to Use Practise in British English

Practise is a verb meaning “to perform an action” or "to exercise a skill.” This spelling is used in British, Canadian and Australian English. In contrast, American English spells the verb form practice.

  • I practise piano for two hours every day.

  • She practises her Spanish.

  • He practised putting every day.

How Practice Is Used in American English

As previously stated, practice is the only spelling in American English. It applies to both the verb and noun meanings.

  • I’m practicing for the game.

  • The company’s workplace practices make their office environment ideal.

  • I go to a local medical practice around the block.

Phrases Using Practice or Practise

In common phrases like “practice what you preach,” the question of whether to use practice or practise seems unclear. In this instance, if you’re using British English you use practise because it is a verb.

What about "best practices" or "best practises"? This phrase refers to a series of guidelines, steps or ideas. In this case, the correct spelling is "best practices" because you are referring to the procedure, not the action itself.

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Practice (or Practise) Makes Perfect

Regardless of how you spell practice or practise in your country, it is important to become familiar with spelling standards and differences between British and American English. Review words with commonly confused spellings, such as toward and towards or while and whilst.