License Vs Lisence — Which Is Correct?

How do you spell license is one of the most frequently asked questions about a word in the English Language. In this case, it is a matter of usage. Remember, English is a language used around the world.

American Vs British Usage

In Britain, both license and licence are used. License is the act of giving permission. Therefore, you can obtain a license for selling alcohol, or to drive.

When you are in possession of such documentation, then you can say, you have a licence.

In the US, the word “licence” isn’t used at all. You will only see license. This is because of how the word spellings and meanings evolved in the two separate locations.

Photo by thapanee srisawat on Unsplash

Noun Vs Verb

This explanation applies to the UK in particular. License is used as a noun in the UK, while license is the verb. In the US, the word “license” is both.

A great way to remember the different spellings if you are writing in UK English is this. Following the spelling allows you to remember whether the particular form of the word you are using is a noun or a verb.

Here goes the way to jog your memory: In the alphabet C comes before S. Likewise, N comes before V. Licence has a “c”. “C” comes before “S”. Therefore, that version of the spelling is the noun.

In “license”, “s” comes after “c”. V comes after N. Therefore “license” is a verb. To make this even simpler, think of C as representing the noun and S as representing the verb.

To Wrap Up

So, we hoped we’ve settled the issue of how do you spell license for you. The answer is: it depends. Both on where you are in the world and if you are using the noun or verb form of the word.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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