The English language includes many words that have different spellings in British English and American English. ‘License’ is one such word.
Licence vs License
The difference between licence and license is that ‘licence’ is used as a noun and ‘license’ as a verb by Non-American English speakers, while ‘license’ is used as a noun as well as a verb by English speakers in America.
According to the United Kingdom’s writing convention (British English), the word is spelled in two ways. When used as a noun, the spelling of the word is ‘licence’. When used as a verb, the spelling is ‘license’.
According to the US writing convention (American English), the spelling ‘license’ is used for everything. There is no different spelling for the word when used as a verb or noun.
When used in the form of a verb, the word is spelled as ‘license’ in both US and UK conventions. Remembering this makes it easier to use both the spellings correctly.
Comparison Table Between Licence and License
|Parameters of Comparison||Licence||License|
|Usage||Used in a sentence as a noun||Used as a noun as well as a verb|
|Convention||UK convention||US convention|
|Meaning||A legally valid document that grants permission to do a particular activity||The act of granting permission to do a particular activity|
|Speaker||Used by Non-American English speakers||Used by English speakers in America as well as English speakers outside America (when used in verb form)|
|Example||“The restaurant owner has applied for a licence to sell alcohol.”||“This restaurant is not licensed to sell alcohol. “|
What is Licence?
The word ‘licence’ is used by English speakers who follow the United Kingdom’s writing convention. Generally, all English speakers outside of America follow this way of writing and speaking.
Licence is always used in a sentence in the form of a noun. It refers to a valid and legal document that grants permission to carry out a particular activity (such as driving, selling alcohol, entering a new country, etc.)
Many words in the English language are spelled differently by American and Non-American English speakers. Generally, when following Non-American English conventions, the spelling of these words changes with respect to the form they are used in (noun or verb). The same goes for words such as advice, which is ‘advice’ for when used as a noun and ‘advise‘ for the verb.
An easy way to check whether licence is used correctly in a sentence is by replacing the word with ‘paper’ or ‘card’. If the sentence still makes sense, then it is correct.
Examples of sentences that use ‘licence’ are
- “I renewed my ‘licence’ a month ago.”
- “Does this restaurant have a ‘licence’ to sell liquor?”
- “He gained full ‘licence’ to return in the summer of 1453.”
- “He hath not given any man ‘licence’ to sin.”
What is License?
The word ‘license’ is used by people following UK convention, as well as US convention. While Non-American English speakers write the word only as a verb, American English speakers use it as both a noun and a verb.
When used as a verb (in both US and UK), license means the act of granting permission to someone to carry out a certain activity. When used in the US as a noun, license refers to a valid legal document that grants permission to carry out a certain activity.
‘License’, in the form of a verb, can be used with respect to the tense, as ‘licensed’ or ‘licensing’. There is no verb for the spelling ‘licence’, meaning that the spellings ‘licenced’ and ‘licencing’ do not exist.
To check whether license has been used correctly as a verb, replace it with the word ‘allow’ (allowed or allowing). If the sentence still makes sense, then it is correct.
Examples of sentences that use ‘license’ are
- “Do you have a driver’s ‘license’?” (noun)
- “This restaurant is ‘licensed’ to sell alcohol and liquor.” (verb)
- “It is not worth losing your ‘license’ over.” (noun)
- “The governor appointed a ‘licensing’ board consisting of four members.” (verb)
Main Differences Between Licence and License
- Licence is used as a noun by Non-American English speakers while License is used as a verb by both American and Non-American English speakers.
- Licence refers to a valid legal document that grants permission to do a particular activity while license refers to the act of granting permission to do something.
- The spelling ‘license’ is used all over the world while the spelling ‘licence’ is not used in the US.
- To install a television in your home, a TV ‘licence’ is required. The TVLA ‘license’ you to carry on with the installation process.
- A person must apply for a provisional driver’s ‘licence’ before driving. DVLA is the organization that licenses you to drive a vehicle.
The English language has many words that have the same spelling but different meanings. Some words have different spellings and different meanings, but they sound the same. Licence is one such word.
When spoken, licence and license sound the same. But the words are used differently with respect to British and American conventions. In British English, licence is used as a noun and license as a verb.
On the other hand, in American English, license is used in the form of a noun as well as a verb. When used as a verb, the word is spelled ‘license’ both in the UK and the US.
The meanings of the word also change when used in different forms. The noun ‘license’ refers to a legal document that grants permission to carry out an activity, while the verb ‘license’ refers to the act of granting legal permission.
An easy trick to check whether the spellings have been used correctly is by replacing licence with ‘paper’ or ‘card’ and license with ‘allow’. On replacement, if the sentences still make sense, then the spellings have been used correctly.