Knowing whether to use ‘practice’ or ‘practise’ can be tricky. Because these words are homophones, and the spelling is very similar, it is easy to make mistakes.
Practice is the noun:
I need more practice.
Practice is key to being a good pianist.
Practise is the verb:
I must practise if I’m going to get this right.
I used to practise on the piano for an hour every day.
There is one easy way to remember which is which: these words follow the same spelling rule as ‘advice’ and ‘advise’.
Advice is a thing you give or receive. Advise is something you do.
Because that pair of words don’t sound the same, it’s easy to remember which is which.
You can also think of the ending – ‘ice’ – which we know is a thing, and that reminds us which one of the pair is the noun.
Fun fact: In British and Australian English, ‘licence’ and ‘license’ follow the same rule.
I have my driver’s licence. I am licensed to drive.
However, American English spells both the noun and the verb as license.
Said to me today: “I don’t want that on my conscious.”
Me: “You probably don’t want it on your conscience, either.”
Me: “They are different words.”
Me: “I promise you.”
These commonly confused words sound similar but they are not homophones.
Conscious is an adjective. It is a descriptive word that means awake or aware.
I’m conscious of the confusion between words that sound similar but which are very different in meaning.
He passed out, but he is conscious again now.
Conscience is a noun. It’s the name given to that part of our being that tells us not to do something we know we shouldn’t, and accuses us when we have done something wrong so that we feel bad about it.
She was good at acting innocent, but her conscience was plagued by guilt.
His conscience reminded him daily of the things he had done.
The difference in the way these words sound is minor, but the difference in meaning is significant.
I’ve read a couple of different posts and even in a couple of books recently about people “pouring over” documents or books.
I wondered at first if this was one of those things Americans do with words that nobody else does, but I checked, and it’s not. It’s simply an error caused by confusion by words that sound the same even though they are spelt differently and mean completely different things.
What the people in question should be doing is poring over their books.
To pore over books or documents is to be completely absorbed in what one is reading or studying. It suggests thoughtful application and concentration.
The gerund is poring.
To pour over books is just going to make a mess, and probably ruin them completely. It’s really not advisable.