English Grammar

Secrets of Spelling Words in English in detail

Secrets of Spelling Words

English spelling presents a lot of difficulties not only for language learners but also for native speakers. For many historical reasons, the relationship between the spelling of English words and pronunciation is sometimes difficult to find. As a result, the spelling of this language sometimes seems completely illogical. However, this is not a reason to make mistakes! Secrets of Spelling Words in English

Let’s take a look at the rules to help you understand the mysteries of English spelling. But remember, even strict rules have exceptions.

Suffixes -er / -est

Suffixes -er or -est are used to form comparative and superlative adjectives. In most cases, endings are simply appended to the end of a word:

long – longer – the longest

clean – cleaner – the cleanest

full – fuller – the fullest

If the adjective ends with a  consonant + -y , then -y is replaced with -i:

funny – funnier – the funniest

If the adjective ends with a  consonant + -e , then -e is dropped:

large – larger – the largest

If the adjective ends in  consonant + vowel + consonant , the last consonant is doubled:

thin – thinner – the thinnest

big – bigger – the biggest

Endings -ing / -ed

The endings -ing and -ed are used to form verb forms:

work – working – worked

stay – staying – stayed

open – opening – opened

If the verb ends in a  consonant + vowel + consonant and stressed syllable, the last consonant is doubled:

drop – dropping – dropped

begin – beginning

But: open – opening – opened (since the stress is not on the last syllable)

If the verb ends with a  consonant + -e , then -e is discarded:

move – moving – moved

dance – dancing – danced

take – taking

When the verb ends in -ie , then -ie is replaced by -y if -ing ends:

lie – lying

die – dying

and does not change if -ed ends :

lie – lied

die – died

Suffix -ly

The -ly suffix is used to form adverbs from adjectives 

sharp – sharply

quiet – quietly

beautiful – beautifully

senseless – senselessly

intelligent – intelligently

If an adjective ends in -ll , then only -y is appended to it:

full – fully

If the adjective ends with a  consonant + -le , the final -e is discarded and -y is added:

possible – possibly

If the adjective ends in -y (except for monosyllabic adjectives), then -y is replaced with -i and -ly is added:

happy – happily

There are two monosyllabic exception words:

day – daily

gay – gaily

Ending -s

The -s ending is used in two ways:

For the formation of the 3rd person singular verb in tense Present Simple (I work – he works)

When a word ends with -ch, -s, -sh, -x , the ending -es is added:

church – churches

class – classes

bush – bushes

box – boxes

If the word ends in -f / -fe , then -f is replaced with -v and -es is added:

shelf – shelves

wife – wives

This is not a hard and fast rule. Examples of exceptions: beliefs, cliffs, chiefs, gulfs, proofs, roofs.

If the word ends with a  consonant + -y , then -y is replaced with -i and the ending -es is added:

sky – skies

baby – babies

Most words ending in -o also use the -es ending :

hero – heroes

potato – potatoes

tomato – tomatoes

volcano – volcanoes

However, many modern words use the -s ending :

photo – photos

piano – pianos

tango – tangos

studio – studios

Suffixes -ible / -able

Many English adjectives end in -ible and -able .

The suffix -ible is used for words of Latin origin. There are about 180 of them in total. New words are not formed using this suffix. The most common examples are:

accessible admissible audible
collapsible combustible compatible
comprehensible contemptible credible
defensible destructible digestible
divisible edible fallible
flexible gullible horrible
illegible implausible inaccessible
incontrovertible incredible indefensible
indelible inedible insensible
intelligible invincible invisible
illegible irresistible irreversible
ostensible permissible plausible
possible responsible reversible
sensible susceptible suggestible
tangible terrible visible

The -able suffix is used for:

  • some Latin words, for example: dependable
  • non-Latin words, for example: affordable, renewable, washable
  • modern words like: networkable, windsurfable

There is a rule to help you determine the correct spelling of the adjective suffix. It works in most (but not all!) Cases. Remember, if you are not sure, it is better to use a dictionary. The rule is this:

Subtracting -able from the adjective leaves the full word (countable – count).

If you subtract -ible , the full word will not work (note that accessible, contemptible, digestible, flexible, and suggestible are exceptions to this rule).

-ie- or -ei- at ​​the root

Sometimes it is difficult to remember, the word is spelled with -ie- or -ei- . There is a very simple rule on this score: Secrets of Spelling Words in English

I before E, but not after C

It works if the vowels ie / ei  give a long sound [i:]. Consider:

I before E: chief, retrieve, brief, field, pierce, thief, believe, mischievous

but not after C: perceive, receipt, ceiling, deceit, conceit, conceive, deceive, receive

If the sound in the middle of a word is pronounced like [eɪ], then it is written through -ei- :

vein

weight

neighbor

sleigh

beige

feint

weight

There are a few common exceptions to this rule:

height

their

either

neither

weird

seizure

seize

British and American spellings

There are several fundamental differences between British and American spellings.

The final -l in verbs is doubled in stressed and unstressed syllables in British, but only in stressed – in American:

BrE: re bel  – re bell ed; tra vel – tra velled

AmE: re bel  – re bell ed; tra vel – tra veled

Many words ending in -re in British end with -er in American:

BrE: center, theater, fiber

AmE: center, theater, fiber

Words ending in -ogue in British are spelled with -og in American:

BrE: analogue, catalog

AmE: analog, catalog

Words ending in -our in British are spelled with -or in American :

BrE: color, labor

AmE: color, labor Secrets of Spelling Words in English

Some British verbs may end with -ise or -ize , but only -ize in American:

BrE: realise, realize; harmonize, harmonize

AmE: realize; harmonize

Some words end with -ce in British and -se in American:

BrE: defense, license (n.), Pretence

AmE: defense, license (n.), Pretense

Other differences:

BrE (UK) AmE (US)
check check
counselor counselor
donut donut
fulfil fulfill
gray gray
judgment, judgment judgment
kerb curb
mold mold
practice (v.) practice (v.)
program (plan, TV show) program
program (computer program) program
pyjamas pajamas
specialty specialty
tire tire

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