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Is It Practice or Practise?

Practice is a red flag word. You know, the ones you always hesitate over, wondering if you have them correct. 

In the USA, there is only one spelling – practice. In Australian and British spelling, there are two words: practice is the noun and practise is the verb. Therefore, in Australia and the UK, you can practise your practices so you can become a practised practitioner of the use of the word practice. In the USA, you would be understandably relieved that you didn’t have to deal with that practice at all!

Here are a few examples from Australian/British English so you can see how the two spellings are used:

  • You may need to practise the practice of patience while waiting at your doctor’s practice. 
  • Put what you have learnt into practice.
  • Jules practised and practised, but eventually accepted that no amount of practice was going to make her a decent pianist.
  • If you don’t practise, you’re unlikely to be world champion.
  • The medical practice was located in the heart of the retirement village.
  • The practice of putting butter on a burn is no longer advised.
  • If you don’t practise running, come race day, you’re going to wish you’d had more practice.
  • Go off and practise, because practice makes perfect.

As you can see, it can be a little tricky to choose the right version. Did you hesitate with any of those? I did!

As an extra check, try using a noun such as ‘preparation’ or ‘habit’ instead of ‘practice’. If it still makes sense then ‘practice’ is correct. Similarly, try substituting a verb like ‘prepare’ or ‘play’ for ‘practise’. If that still makes sense then ‘practise’ is correct. 

Our eagle-eyed proofreader Natasha recently did an entire run-through of an 80,000 word manuscript specifically for this little terror that was used numerous times in all sorts of different ways. She was determined to ensure it didn’t slip through the wrong way before we went to print and there was much animated discussion among our team to make sure we had the right spelling in every instance.

This is one of those red flag words I would recommend not to use in your book’s title. The goal of your title is to clearly demonstrate your content and you don’t want to take away from that by having readers focussing instead on your spelling. 

Do you have any red flag words that trip you up?

Alex Fullerton is an author’s consultant and self-publishing specialist at Author Support Services, based on a pineapple farm in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Australia. She has spent the last sixteen years working with business people to create concise, compelling, and comprehensive books that complement their businesses and increase their professional standing. Alex is supported by a dedicated team who provide a full self-publishing service, from planning to printing and promotion.

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