English Spelling System
Knowledge of correct spelling is essential for writing correct words. Sometimes we know words but cannot use them as we are not sure about how they are spelt. But if we follow the simple rules, we will be able to rectify our weakness and enhance word power.
Certain words are formed by an addition to the beginning or the end of a word, e.g.,
Beside, forgive, foretell, gainsay, income, unkind etc.
Freedom, friendship, darkness, hopeful, weaken, boldly, sleeping.
Words mentioned in example 1 show the use of prefix (in the beginning of) and that of example 2 show the use of suffix (in the end).
Now see the following rules carefully:
Final ‘e’ is dropped before a suffix beginning with a vowel sound.
Note: There are few exceptions. Final e is retained in the following conditions:
(a) In all words ending in -ce, -ge before suffixes beginning with a, i, o, u, provided the soft sound of e or g is retained. e,g.
(b) In all words ending in –ee, -ye, e.g.
dye — dyeing eye — eyeing
But monosyllabic words ending in –ie change ie into y before ing, e.g.
die — dying tie — tying
lie — lying
2. Final e is retained before suffixes in the following words:
amuse — amusement move — movement
manage — management base — baseness
free — freedom brave — bravery
knave — knavery home — homely
hope — hopeful use — useful
care — careless life — lifeless
(a) But words ending in -dge, -le drop the final e, e.g.
Judge — judgment (in American language)
— judgement (e retained in British English)
Acknowledge — acknowledgment (American)
— acknowledgement (British)
Whole — wholly
true — truth
wise — wisdom
3. Monosyllabic words ending in –ll- drop the final / before suffixes beginning with a consonant, e.g.
well — welcome,
welfare all — altogether,
already full — fulfill
Note: Final / is not dropped before the suffix –ness, e.g.
ill — illness
dull — dullness
still — stillness
4. Monosyllabic words ending in -ll — drop the final/when preceded by a prefix,
roll — enrol
fill — fulfil
5. Monosyllabic words ending in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel double the final consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel.
bid — bidding get — getting
dig — digging sit — sitting
run — running, runner swim — swimming, swimmer
spin — spinning cut — cutting, cutter
win — winning put — putting
hit — hitting split — splitting
shut — shutting god — goddess
spit — spitting quit — quitting
wed — wedding
6. Polysyllabic words accented on the last syllable and ending in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel—double the final consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel.
compel — compelled, compelling
control — controlled, controlling, controller
omit — omitting, omitted
rebel — rebelled, rebelling, rebellious
refer — referred, referring
begin — beginning
Note: Many words ending in –l though not accented on the last syllable, double the final l e.g.
Travel — Traveller Jewel — Jeweller
7. Words ending in -y preceded by a consonant—change the v into / before all suffixes except – ous and ing.
baby — babies
beauty — beautify, beautiful but beauteous
bury — burial, buried but burying
deny — denial, denied but denying
dry — dried hut drying
marry — marriage, married but marrying
merry — merrier, merrily, merriment
Note: (a) But y preceded by a vowel remains unchanged. e.g.
toy — toys key — keys
volley — volleys prey — preys
play — plays
(b) Some words ending in -y preceded by a vowel change the y into I before a suffix beginning with a vowel. e.g.
gay — gaiety pay — paid but paying
say — said but saying
8. When e and I combine, sound as ee – I precedes e except after e.
(a) Achieve, brief, believe, chief, field, fierce, grief, niece, relieve, siege, sieve, wield, yield.
(b) ceiling, conceit, deceive, perceive, receive, receipt
Note: seize, counterfeit, weird, either, plebeian, vicereine, neither, protein, deity. deify, heifer, heinous.
9. Mark the change from c to v, as the word changes from noun to verb in the following words:
Noun Verb Noun Verb
Advice advise device devise
Licence license practice practice
List of words usually misspelt
1. Words ending in -ar
beggar, calendar, grammar, war, lunar, scholar, solar, sugar
2. Words ending in -er
adviser, carpenter, character, commissioner, employer, hunger, juggler, lawyer, mariner, signatter, teacher, weaver
3. Words ending in -or
author, bachelor, creditor, debtor, doctor, horror, inspector, instructor, jailor, mirror. monitor, professor, spectator, tutor
4. Words ending in -ary,
boundary, customary, dictionary, exemplary, honorary, library, military, necessary, salary, secretary, solitary, stationary, summary, temporary
5. Words ending in -ery
battery, bravery, fiery, gallery, lottery, machinery, mystery, recovery, scenery, silvery, stationery
6. Words ending in -ory
advisory, compulsory, exclamatory, factory, history, memory, preparatory, satisfactory, victory.
7. Words ending in -ent
absent, ascent, accident, amusement, content, continent, Convenient, evident, impertinent, impotent, impudent, obedient, opponent, permanent, president, efficient. superintendent, violent, ancient, sufficient, beneficent, magnificent, patient
8. Words ending in -ant
attendant, brilliant, distant, elegant, extravagant, fragrant, giant, gallant, inhabitant ignorant, lieutenant, merchant, peasant, pheasant, pleasant, pregnant, sergeant, tenant.
9. Words ending in -ence
absence, audience, commence, confidence, defence, difference, evidence, offence. presence, science
10. Words ending in -ense
condense, expense, immense, intense, nonsense, suspense
11. Words ending in -ance
admittance, acquaintance, appearance, assistance, attendance, balance, distance, entrance, guidance, maintenance, repentance, substance
12. Words ending in -tion
ambition, definition, destination, function, intention, mention, operation, reception, station
13. Words ending in -sion
collision, compulsion, confusion, expulsion, excursion, mension, occasion, provision. Persuasion
14. Words ending in -ssion
admission, discussion, omission, permission, possession, procession, succession
Note: Now read these words:
(i) Ocean, magician, suspicion
(ii) Anywhere, anyone, anything, something, someone, somebody, cannot, into. nobody, nothing, everybody, already
But — every one, all right.
(iii) These words fall under none of the rules mentioned above:
Almighty, accommodate, amateur, auspices, annual, aeroplane, altogether, apology, autumn, awe. bazaar, balloon, benefited, brethren, betel, conscience. cushion, coolie, colonel, colleague, develop, decent, diarrhea, dysentery, eclipse. etiquette, furniture, guarantee, heroine, inflammation, island, jaundice, luster, lorry, measles, metallic, museum, nineteen, ninth, nuisance, opaque, opportunity. partridge, perilous, persuade, picturesque, privilege, quarrelled, scythe, scissors, sovereign, surgeon, tobacco, tuberculosis, turmeric, truly, tuition, tyranny, umpire. valley, volunteer, vulture, welcome, woolen, wrist, zero.