Daily Archives: January 17, 2013

Practise makes Perfect

Another grammatical point to add to my previous rants. Do check out the riders here if you’re planning to shoot me down in flames. On this particular post, North American readers may wish to look away – like all my posts, this one concerns British English. We all know you guys like getting our language wrong!

But in the UK, practice and practise are different words, as are licence and license. And, there are rules about which to use when.

Practice and Licence are nouns.

Practise and License are verbs.

As with all the rules I’ve been addressing in this series, it’s a simple rule and you’d think we could follow it. But we can’t. In the heat of the moment, we struggle; we write “practicing” and “licenced”, both of which can’t possibly be words, and we then we type about our “Driver’s License” and “Doctor’s Practise”, which might be all very well in America, but aren’t right in England.

A rule like that isn’t easy to remember. So here’s a version which is:

People don’t generally struggle with the spelling of Advice and Advise, because they are pronounced differently. You don’t need to change your pronunciation of License or Practise, but you can use this to help you remember the spellings.

Advice,  like Practice and Licence, is a noun.

Advise, like Practise and License, is a verb.

If in doubt, try replacing the word in your sentence with advice / advise and check which one sounds right.

eg “I have been practi?ing the violin” => “I have been advising the violin” (Advicing is obviously wrong).

eg2 “Did you bring your licen?e?” => “Did you bring your advice?” (Advise would sound wrong here).


Filed under Grammar Rules Simplified, Writing