21

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?

24

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".

7

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

  • 7
    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
  • 2
    You wouldn't write "an advice" as advice is uncountable in English. Some advice or a piece of advice. – user195536 Sep 9 '16 at 14:34
  • @user195536: There is also a countable sense: "a formal notice of a financial transaction: remittance advices." (Oxford Dictionary of English) – Henrik N Apr 19 '17 at 7:59

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