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Old Friday, July 29, 2016
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Default Rules to Improve Your Spelling

Rules to Improve Your Spelling


1. Use a (good) dictionary:

An English dictionary designed for English language learners, such as Longman’s Dictionary of Contemporary English or Oxford’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, can be very helpful for non-native speakers. These dictionaries give more information and often many more examples of words in context to help students select and use words appropriately.

2. Always check certain "troublesome" suffixes in your dictionary.

Some English suffixes confound even the best spellers. Make it a habit always to check these types of words when you are editing or proofreading your work.

-able or -ible (-ably/-ibly; -ability/-ibility)
responsible / dependable; responsibly / dependably; responsibility / dependability

-ent or -ant
apparent / blatant

-ence or -ance
occurrence / importance

-tial or -cial
influential / beneficial


3. Create your own "difficult-to-spell" lists.

If you notice that you routinely misspell certain words, consider learning from your mistakes by creating your own personal "difficult words" list. Keeping this list close at hand as you write will save you time and probably eliminate many of your common spelling errors.

4. Learn the standard pronunciations for frequently misspelled words.

Some common misspellings derive not from difficult combinations of letters but from pronunciations that do not reflect the word’s spelling. The word mischievous, for example, is often misspelled because of the common pronunciation "miss CHEEVY us." Learning the standard pronunciation "MISS chiv us" will aid you in properly spelling the word.

5. Watch out for homophones, near-homophones, and other easily confusable words.

Many English words have identical or similar pronunciations but different spellings. Using the wrong word of a homophone pair is one of the most common spelling pitfalls for all writers. Learn to check these types of commonly misspelled words carefully during your proofreading.

6. Become familiar with English spelling rules.

Contrary to common perception, English spelling does often follow certain rules. Becoming aware of these rules can help you avoid some common spelling errors. Many writing handbooks and style guides contain a complete list of spelling rules. Below are four of the most helpful.

Rule 1: i before e except after c, or when sounded like /ay/ as in neighbour or weigh.

This simple rhyme helps explain the difference between the spellings of believe (i before e) and receive (except after c). In general, when the long /e/ sound (ee) is spelled with the letters i and e, the order is ie: shield, field, fiend. Common exceptions are leisure, seizure, and weird.
When the letters i and e are used in words with a long /a/ sound, they are usually spelled ei: sleigh, feint, heinous.
When the sound is neither long /e/ nor long /a/, the spelling is usually ei: their, seismic, foreign. Some exceptions to this rule are friend, sieve, and mischief.

Rule 2: When adding suffixes that begin with a vowel (-able, -ible, -ous, etc.) to words ending in silent e, drop the final e.

This rule explains why a word like desire contains an e and a word like desirable does not. Other examples include response → responsible, continue → continuous, argue → arguing.
We do, however, retain the final e when a word ends in -ce or -ge in order to maintain the distinctive "soft" pronunciation of those consonants:
notice → noticeable, courage → courageous, advantage → advantageous.
For reasons of pronunciation, the final e is also retained in words ending in a double e,
e.g. agree → agreeable, flee → fleeing.


Rule 3: When adding suffixes to words ending in y, change the y to an i.

This rule explains the spelling shift that occurs in the following word pairs:
happy → happier, plenty → plentiful, body → bodily.
As English spelling does not generally allow an i to follow another i, the y is retained when the suffix itself begins with an i: carry → carrying, baby → babyish.

Rule 4: When adding suffixes, double the final consonant of a word only if any of the following conditions apply.

The final consonant is preceded by a single vowel: bar → barred. When there is more than one vowel before the final consonant, the consonant is not doubled: fail → failed. When the final consonant is preceded by another consonant, the consonant is not doubled: bark → barking.
The word has only one syllable or has the stress on the last syllable: fit → fitted, commit → committed, prefer → preferred. For words with more than one syllable where the stress does not fall on the last syllable, the final consonant is not doubled: benefit → benefited, offer → offered.
The suffix begins with a vowel: prefer → preferred. But if the syllable stress changes because of the addition of the suffix, then the consonant is not doubled: prefer → preference. Final consonants are also not doubled if the suffix begins with a consonant: prefer → preferment.
If the word ends in l or p, then the consonant is usually doubled in Canadian spelling:
travel → travelled; worship → worshipped. Note: American spelling does not follow this rule.


Some Commonly Misspelled Words


accelerate
fiery
pastime
accessible
fluorescent
pejorative
accessory
fluoride
penultimate
accommodate
foresee
perennial
acknowledge
fulfill / fulfil
perseverance
acquaint
government
persuade
acquire
grammar
phenomenon
across
grievous
pneumonia
aficionado
guarantee
Portuguese
aggressive
handiwork
preeminent
amphitheatre
handkerchief
prerogative
anecdote
harass
privilege
anomaly
heinous
pronunciation
apparent
hemorrhage
proverbial
arctic
hygiene
pursue
asphalt
hypocrisy
quandary
auxiliary
idiosyncrasy receive
bachelor
indispensable
remuneration
berserk
inedible
rendezvous
besiege
innocuous
renowned
bizarre
inoculate
repertoire
bookkeeper / bookkeeping
intercede
restaurateur
caffeine
invigorate
rhyme
camaraderie
iridescent
rhythm
Caribbean
irresistible
sacrilegious
category
laboratory
seize
collaborate
leisure
seizure
committee
liaison
separate
concede
manoeuvre / maneuver
sergeant
consensus
mayonnaise
silhouette
corollary
medieval
smorgasbord
curriculum
Mediterranean
solely
deceive
memento
soliloquy
de rigueur
millennium
sophomore
desiccate
minuscule
subtle
dilapidated
miscellaneous
supersede
diphtheria
mischievous
susceptible
diphthong
misspell
synonymous
dissension
non sequitur
tariff
duly
noticeable
tenterhook
dysfunction
nuptial
threshold
ecstasy
occasion
tortuous
embarrass
occurrence
tragedy
exaggerate
offered
Ukrainian
excerpt
ophthalmology
vaccinate
exhilarate
pageant
vacillate
experiential
parallel
vague
February
parliament
weird

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