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Pavement pedantry: practising what we preach

Stranger Collective pavement pedantry

Americanisms may have stealthily snuck into much of our vernacular, but one realm of our Brexicon (sorry) remains joyously yank-free. Practice and practise are still happily – and confusingly – British English, through and through.

Here in Blighty we have practice the noun and practise the verb, so that readers can differentiate between the two. But Stateside they see no such need for differentiation. And with the continued globalisation of all things content it’s made for some rather murky waters when it comes to what’s right.

Here’s the bottom line. If you are using practice as a verb noun, spell it with a c – doctor’s practice, my piano practice, practice makes perfect.

If you are using practise as a verb, think s – will you practise the piano today? Do you practise medicine? All this practising, you’d think I’d be perfect by now.

A couple of useful tips to remember:

If you replace the word practice/practise with lesson or preparation does the sentence still make sense (ignore doctor’s practice – that’s a weird anomaly)? Then it’s practice you want to use.

Think about practice/practise like advice and advise. If you do, it’s easier to understand which needs to be used where.

So that’s it. Put into practice, it’s simple. Now it’s time for you to practise it. Repeat after us, “time to practise my practice/practise recognition, because practice makes perfect.”

Does anyone else think the word practice sounds weird now?

One Response Subscribe to comments


  1. mairi mclean

    Great piece, thank you. I am a pedant in these matters and often advise the use of advice/advise to help folk! mairi

    Jul 20, 2016 @ 4:54 pm

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