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As an Australian, I like to follow British forms of words such as license/licence and practise/practice. I have no problem with licence the noun and license the verb, but I find it hard to keep practise and practice straight.

To get better, I practise my juggling. When I see a doctor, I visit their practice. But what about preparing a set of practice problems? Are they a set of problems that are used for practising, being instead practise problems? Is there a use of the word practice besides referring to, say, a doctor's establishment?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The use of practice in practice problems is correct. Here, practice problems is a compound noun with problems modified by practice. It means problems used for practice.

It helps your understanding to replace practice here with revision. We use revision problems, not revise problems, to mean problems used for revision. Practice is simply a noun meaning the act of practising, just like revision is a noun meaning the act of revising.

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Thanks, I think that clears it up! –  Will Robertson Jan 25 '11 at 7:44
I do not think that it should be 'practice', even using the 'revise' example. Notice the example cited; "To get better, I ‘practise’ my juggling." It could also be (somewhat incorrectly) written as; "To get better, I ‘revise’ my juggling." However, it could not be written; "To get better, I ‘consulting rooms’ my juggling." –  RichieACC Jan 25 '11 at 13:52
@RichieACC: Are you saying you'd write "revise problems" (with the verb) rather than "revision problems" (with the noun)? Your comment makes no sense. –  ShreevatsaR Jan 25 '11 at 14:30
Perhaps my comment makes less sense than the answer which I also submitted. It would most certainly be "revision problems". –  RichieACC Jan 25 '11 at 15:48
I always use advice/advise as an example to help explain this one; since they sound different, it's easier for people to remember the difference. In your example, you'd use 'advice problems', not 'advise problems'. –  gpr Jan 25 '11 at 21:59
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Either "practice" or "practise" in British dialects of English may be used for the verb form (see the OED - it merely lists them as alternate spellings). The OED also lists "practise" as a variant for the noun, although it is pretty clear that "practice" is preferred for the noun form.

For example, I hold a practising certificate, which allows me to practise (or practice) as part of a solicitors' practice.

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I think that the correct one to use would be 'practise'. A test that I use would be to replace the words with similar words or phrases. 'Practise' means to perform repetitions of an action in order to perfect it, or to exercise a current ability. While 'practice' is a doctor's consulting room.

So in your examples, you could say, "To get better, I ‘exercise’ my juggling." Or, "When I see a doctor, I visit their ‘consulting rooms’."

You could refer to 'exercise problems', but you could not refer to 'consulting room problems'.

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This is wrong: in standard British English, practise is a verb, and practice is the corresponding noun. You are right that practice can mean a doctor's work (and, by extension, his place of work - his consulting rooms), but this is because he practises medicine (and therefore is work is practice). –  psmears Jun 5 '11 at 18:15
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