Practice Makes Perfect. Or is that “practise…”

This post is something of a companion piece to yesterday’s.

Up until early February 2008, I never gave much thought to the spelling of the word practice. Or practise, for that matter. What happened then, in the last depths of winter, to change that?

I wrote my lesson plan for my first teaching practice on my teacher-training course, that’s what happened. Somewhere within that incredibly detailed plan, I wrote something along the lines of Students practice using the target language.

I spent most of the evening working on the plan, detailing in at-times minute detail what I would do in the 30 minutes I would have to teach. The next afternoon I taught for the first time in my life, and was happy with how it went, and the feedback I got from my observer. Part of his role was to critique the lesson plan, and after relaxing for a while, I decided to have a quick look at it. There weren’t too many notes on it, but I did notice a little red circle around part of a word. Why, that could only be a spelling error!, I thought, must have been a typo. But I looked, and notice that it was the second c in practice that was circled. So I suppose I should have used an s, I said to myself, but it doesn’t matter which you use, does it? I immediately went to the library to check a dictionary, and saw that practice was specified to be a noun. Now knowing what I’d find, I looked down to practise, and saw that it was the verb form.

Aha!, so that’s it, I thought. And I’ve never got confused between the two since (learning from your mistakes is incredibly effective).

NB. If you’re American, feel free to entirely disregard the above, as practice is generally used as the spelling for the noun and the verb in American English.

Would you like to know one simple trick to help you remember which spelling to use? Well then, let me ADVISE you. Are you ready? because here comes the ADVICE

Do you see?…

It’s the same principle as the difference between advice (noun) and advise (verb). Because they have different sounds (/s/ in advice, and /z/ in advise), we don’t tend to mix them up so often. So if you’re not sure which spelling to use, think of advice/advise. This also applies to licence/license, but you’re probably not going to use them as often as practice/practise.

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