Spot the difference between practice and practise

Eleanor Meecham | August 4, 2015

‘Practice’ and ‘practise’ look so very similar, but they mean different things. Annoyingly, they’re pronounced exactly the same way, which makes it hard to remember which word to use for what.

Another reason for confusion is that the UK spelling of these words (which we use here in New Zealand) is different from the American spelling. If you’re using American spelling, the only word you need is ‘practice’. No need to read any further.

Practice is for things and practise is for actions

‘Practice’ is a noun (a word that names a thing) and ‘practise’ is a verb (a word that names an action). For example:

I go to soccer practice. (This is an event I go to)
I practise soccer. (This is what I do there)

The doctor works at her private practice. (This is the place she works)
She practises medicine. (This is what she does there)

Eating veges before pudding is a common practice. (This is a custom)
My kids hate eating veges but I make them practise. (This is what I make them do)

Image: Baby in a soup pot.

One way to get your kids used to their veges. Image by Fabrizio Morroia / CC BY

Learn a trick to help you remember

Here’s a simple trick for remembering which spelling to use:

rice is a thing = for things, use practice

rise is an action = for actions, use practise

Image: Rice in a bowl.

At cooking practice we make our rice all fluffy…
Original image by Steven Depolo / CC BY

Image: Souffles.

…then we practise making soufflés till they rise up nice and puffy.
Original image by Jules Morgan / CC BY

Still confused? Check the dictionary!

Good old Oxford Dictionaries lists all the possible uses of these two words:

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.