Licence with a c

This post is for you if you are a fan of the book “Eats Shoots and Leaves“.  Yes, I know it’s the punchline to a dirty joke, but it’s also the name of a very good  book about linguistic pedantry.

And linguistic pedantry is the main point of my post.  In particular how do you spell “licence”?  Is it “licence” or “license”?

If you are in the US it’s always license. This annoys me when I review US documents, but I have learned to get over it.

If you are in the UK the spelling depends on whether you are using it as a noun or a verb.

Where it is a noun, e.g. “my driving licence”, or “I grant you a licence”, then it is spelled with a “c”.

Where it is a verb, e.g. “the Owner hereby licenses the Company”, then it is spelled with an “s”.

I trained in a less gentle time, and my first boss used to throw stuff at me when I got this distinction wrong. It didn’t take too many dunts to the head before I started to get it right.  (Hmm – some lesson there I think.)

And while we are at it, a company is always singular, so it is “the Company performs” and not “the Company perform”.

Anyway enough patronising pedantic chat.  I also realise I have set myself up for a fall here, so I really hope that there are no licence/license errors in Techblog.  I tell you what – a special prize to the first reader to find one.

Douglas-Mathie-signoff

1 Response to “Licence with a c”


  1. 1 damienbehan September 29, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Oh yes, that’s one that gets to me too.

    Another one is Program/Programme. The US spelling is always “program”, and as a result of their domination of the software industry when referring to a software programme or programming you should always use “program” too.

    E.g. you’d write “The program has terminated unexpectedly” and “I’m going to program my robot to destroy the world” but “I’m really keen on that programme The IT Crowd on the telly”


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