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?

  • 1
    Verbs don't take prepositions. That's why gerunds got invented.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 13, 2012 at 21:08
  • General Reference. Also, the verb/noun spelling distinction isn't just Br. Eng. Apr 13, 2012 at 21:17
  • 3
    The verb/noun spelling distinction isn't present in Am. Eng. because they're both spelled with a 'c' (more precisely, two 'c's). Apr 14, 2012 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


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".


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 Southern 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 is therefore incorrect; the confusion comes from the USA; the immigrants have not always been good grammarians, and they still have no reference like Oxford or l'Académie

  • 9
    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. Sep 4, 2013 at 23:41
  • 2
    You wouldn't write "an advice" as advice is uncountable in English. Some advice or a piece of advice.
    – user195536
    Sep 9, 2016 at 14:34
  • 1
    @user195536: There is also a countable sense: "a formal notice of a financial transaction: remittance advices." (Oxford Dictionary of English)
    – Henrik N
    Apr 19, 2017 at 7:59

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