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British English makes the distinction between 'practise' (verb) and 'practice' (noun).

Based on this, I would judge the following sentence as incorrect:

In practise, computers often crash.

Nevertheless, I see it frequently. Could 'practise' possibly be a verb in this phrase?

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Verbs don't take prepositions. That's why gerunds got invented. –  RegDwigнt Apr 13 '12 at 21:08
    
General Reference. Also, the verb/noun spelling distinction isn't just Br. Eng. –  FumbleFingers Apr 13 '12 at 21:17
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The verb/noun spelling distinction isn't present in Am. Eng. because they're both spelled with a 'c' (more precisely, two 'c's). –  Peter Shor Apr 14 '12 at 20:22

2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I agree, the usage is incorrect. It would be a noun in that sentence, synonymous (or almost so) with "in fact" or "in reality", and an antonym to "in theory".

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You must definitely write : a practice, but to practise.

Exactly when as you write : an advice, to advise ; or : a device, to devise...

The reason is etymological, from French (and don't ignore that two thirds of the English vocabulary comes from over The Channel, it explains numerous oddities in English spelling and pronunciation - in fact regularities in French, or rather old French).

Take for instance : a) advice : the old French was "un advis" (the "d" is now dropped) ; it was pronounced, and still is in Soutern France : avisse (avi in the North). b) advise : the verb was "adviser" (the "d" is now dropped, too) ; it is pronounced avizer

The French rules ensue themselves from Latin.

in practise est donc incorrect ; the confusion comes from the USA ; the immigrants have not always been good grammairians, and they still have no reference like Oxford or l'Académie

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The factual parts of this answer are well-done, and the comparison to advise/devise is illuminating. However, I find the nonstandard punctuation and spacing distracting, and the provincial attitude toward Americans mildly offensive. +1/–1 = 0. –  Bradd Szonye Sep 4 '13 at 23:41

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