Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Licence and license

"Licence" is the noun; "license" is the verb. And the same is true of "practice" and "practise". These are the British spellings, and the Canadian ones.

Pull out your driver's licence and check the spelling. License your dog. Do your piano practice. Practise meditation.

I'm sure the Globe's stylebook follows this distinction as well, so in the following error the writer's American spellcheck must have prevailed.

Unlike health cards, which usually aren't sent out for a few weeks after a replacement request has been fulfilled, a temporary driver's license can be issued after the forms have been processed. (August 23, 2011)

If you are ever in doubt as to which spelling is the noun and which the verb, think of "device" and "devise" to remind yourself that the nouns end in "ce" and the verbs end in "se".


  1. I teach my kids to use “advice” and “advise”.
    I once had a vice-principal who manually corrected, on 27 separate reports, in red ink, my spelling of the word “practise” because he did not know that the noun and verb had different spellings. Needless to say, after I got through with him, he never corrected my spelling again. Nor did he make any comments on my reports without using a sticky note!

  2. I had a principal who used to say, "I want to appraise you of what happened at the last staff meeting." There's a moral here!

  3. How about "If you can SEE it (noun) it's spelled with a C."