It’s time to practise your practice

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A few days  ago I had an email from the lovely and talented Charlotte Greenman of Accredited Marketing. Here’s what she said:

I was just talking about you yesterday as I am stuck with a word!  Were your ears burning??

Picture this… me (English) with client (Hungarian) and her partner (Indian) sat writing an email together and I tell her that to ‘practice’ yoga it’s practice, however, she said it’s ‘practise’. I know my English grammar isn’t great but she’s adamant that it’s spelt with an ‘s’ and not a ‘c’. Could you help and clarify the correct spelling please?

The sentence is “Our next term starts on … so it’s not that long to wait until we can practice again”

I was happy to help – and I’m happy to share what I said with you now, because the difference between ‘practice’ and ‘practise’ is a very common confusion…

The right answer depends on whether you’re English or American (or writing for an English or an American audience).

Americans use ‘practice’ whether they’re using it as a noun or a verb. So you’d write:

I’m going to do my piano practice tomorrow (noun)

If I don’t practice the piano, I’ll never get any better (verb)

If you’re English, the correct spelling depends on whether you’re using it as a noun or a verb. So you’d write:

I’m going to do my piano practice tomorrow (noun)

If I don’t practise the piano, I’ll never get any better (verb)

So in Charlotte’s case, if she was writing for an American audience she would say:

Our next term starts on … so it’s not that long to wait until we can practice again.

And if she was writing for an English audience (which, incidentally, she was), she would say:

Our next term starts on … so it’s not that long to wait until we can practise again.

Did you know the difference? Copious smug points if you did. And if you didn’t, I hope this has been an interesting and useful read.

If there are any words or grammar points that you frequently get stuck on, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help.

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