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Tips to Improve Spelling Skills in English

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Hi Aspirants,

In the following article, we have given some rules and tips to improve your spelling in English words.Spend your good amount of time by reading the article and gain your spelling skill.

The ability to spell correctly is part of the necessary equipment of an educated person. It is, therefore, vital to learn how to spell correctly. The task is not simple, as English spelling is not always logical and consistent. The important reason, however, it the dissimilarity between the sounds and spellings of many words. Not only are a large number of words not spelt as they sound, but many which sound alike are spelt differently. There should be enough ground for despair for students when they realise that line and sign share common sounds; that site, sight and cite sound alike, as also no and know, or for that matter kernel and colonel. However, the problem is not so difficult as it seems. It should be some comfort to prospective learners to know that most persons of normal intelligence do succeed in learners to spell correctly. It  may not be simple but it surely is not impossible. This would be all the more understandable, if one were to know that, in most cases, some two thousand words make up 95 per cent of man’s writing and that 95 per cent of all spelling errors occur in only one thousand words.

Now, let us familiarise ourselves with some of the important rules as an aid to correct spelling.

Rule1 :-

Carefully distinguish Between ie and ei

The following jingle will prove helpful;

Write i before e

Except after c

i  before e: believe, shield, grief; but e before i; receipt, deceit.

ei when sounded like a: weight, freight.

Some exceptions: leisure, protein, financier.

Rule 2 :-

Drop the final e before a suffix beginning with a vowel but not before a suffix beginning with a consonant.


  1. Suffix beginning with a vowel:

please + ure = pleasure, hide + ing = hiding, educate + ion = education.


  • Final e is retained to prevent confusion: dyeing (to distinguish it from dying)
  • Final e is retained when c and g sound as s and j respectively changeable, singe + ing = singeing.

Rule 3:-

 In most cases, change final y to I except before a suffix beginning with i.

Examples: fifty + eth = fiftieth, rely + ance= reliance, deny + al = denial

Exceptions: try+ing+ trying, grey+ish= greyish

Rule 4:-

 Double the final consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel in cases like the following: Stop+ing= stopping (when a single vowel precedes the final consonant and when the word has one syllable only, i.e. has only one vowel sound).

Being+ing= beginning (when there is a single vowel before the final consonant as above but where even though there is more than one syllable, i.e., more than one vowel sound, yet the stress is on the last syllable, i.e., the last vowel sound is pronounced with greater force. In begin, there are two syllables, i.e., two vowel sounds, and the stress is on the last syllable.)

Examples: admit+ed=admitted , allot+ed =allotted, control+er= controller, occur+ing= mixing, index+es = indexes.

Rule 5:-

 Make plurals in most cases by adding s to the singular forms of nouns but note the following cases:

  • If a word ends in y preceded by a consonant, change y to ie and add s; but if the final y is preceded by a consonant, change y to ie and add s; but if the final y is preceded by a vowel than add only s.

Examples: dairy-dairies , cry–cries, boy-boys, key-keys.

  • If a words ends in s,x,ch,sh, and z, then add es.

Examples: loss–losses, box–boxes, church–church–churches, wish–wishes, buzz–buzzes.

  • In the case of common words ending in o add es.

Examples: buffalo–buffaloes, hero–heroes, potato–potatoes.

Exceptions: radio–radios, photo–photos, studio–studios

Note: Mere s is added in the case of lesser–known words, longer words, and foreign words ending in o.

(a) in the case of most nouns ending in ff add s.

Examples: tariff-tariffs, sheriff-sheriffs, staff-staffs

(b) In the case of many words ending in f or fe, the f or fe is changed to v and es in added. But in many other cases simply s is added.

Examples: Leaf-leaves, wife-wives, knife-knives

Note: Some nouns take both the plural forms: hoofs/hooves; scarfs/scarves; handkerchiefs/handkerchieves.

  • In the case of a few nouns the singular and the plural forms are the same. .

Examples: sheep-sheep, deer-deer, aircraft-aircraft

  • There are a few nouns which have no singular form, although they often take a singular verb.

Examples: news, athletics, politics, measles, physics, mathematics.

Note: Scissors and trousers are plural nouns but they describe singular things.

  • It is noteworthy that some words change their spelling in the plural.

Example: goose-geese, child-children, foot-feet, man-men, mouse-mice, ox-oxen, tooth-teeth, woman-women

In the case of many words taken in English from foreign languages, the foreign plural forms are retained.

Examples: agendum-agenda, alumnus-alumni, analysis-analyses, appendix-appendices (also appendixes), axis-axes, bacterium-bacteria, basis-bases, crisis-crises, criterion-criteria, datum-data, erratum-errata, focus-foci (also focuses), formula-formulae (also formulas), genus-genera (also geniuses),  hypothesis-hypotheses, index-indices (also indexes), memorandum-memoranda (also memorandums), oasis-oases, parenthesis-parentheses,  phenomenon-phenomena, plateau-plateaus,  radius-radii (also radiuses), stimulus-stimuli, synopsis-synopses, thesis-theses, vertebra-vertebrae (also vertebras).

In the case of compound verbs, form the plural ordinarily by adding s or es to the important words in the compound. The final element is usually the one pluralised if the compound as a whole is considered a single word.

Examples: commander in chief-commanders in chief, brother/ sister/father/son/daughter –in-law, attorney at law-attorneys at law, court-martial-courts-martial, looker on-lookers on, man-of-war-men-of war, hanger-on-hangers-on-hangers-on, passer-by-passer-by, bystander-bystanders, handful-handfuls, basketful-basketfuls, spoonful-spoonfuls, major-general-major-generals.

Exception: Man-servant-men-servant.

Rule 6:-

 Note the following rules:

  • If a prefix ends in the same letter with which the main part of the word begins, then include both letters.

Example: dis+satisfied = dissatisfied, il+ literate=illiterate, mis+spelling=misspelling.

  • If the main part of a word ends in the same letter with which a suffix begins then also include both letters.

Examples: sudden+ness= suddenness, occasional+ly= occasionally, soul+less=soulless.

  • If two words are combined, the first ending with the same letter with which the second begins, then include both letters.

Examples: bath+house= bathhouse, room+mate= roommate, glow+worm= glowworm.

Note: the same three consonants are never written together. Thus, still+life is still-life, not stillife; and cross+stitch is cross-stitch, not crossstitch.

Rule 7 :-

 Words of one syllable (having one vowel sound only) ending in ‘LL’, drop one ‘L’ when used in compound words.

  • This is always the case with ful used as an adjective-forming suffix.

Examples: beauty +full= beautiful, harm+full=harmful, use+full=useful. But note the spelling of the following words: fulfil, skilful, awful, (ii) All as a prefix in most cases becomes al.

Examples: all+most= almost, all+ready=already, all+together=altogether.

Exception: all+right which is not alright but all right, (iii) well as a prefix also drops one 1. Examples: well+come=welcome, well+fare=welfare. (But note that well+being=well-being).

Examples: foretell, resell, forestall.

Rule 8:-

There are a number of noun-verb pairs in English spelt with ‘c’ or ‘s’. In all such cases the noun has c and the verb has ‘s’.




With increasing international importance of American English it is necessary to know some of the major differences between American and British spellings. Here is a brief list.

1.British ae, oe        American e

Anaemia                   anemia

Anaesthetic               anestheitc

Encyclopaedia            encyclopedia

Mediaeval                  medieval

2.British en-           American in-

Encase                     incase


inquiry                     inquiry

insure                      insure

3.British-ise           American-ize

Apologise                 Apologize

4.British-our          American-or

Colour                    Color

Favour                   Favor

Humour                 Humor

Labour                   labor

Odour                    Odor

Vigour                    Vigor

5.British-re           American-er

Centre                    Center

Fibre                       Fiber

Theatre                   Theater

6.British ou          American-o

Mould                    Mold

Plough                   Plow

Smoulder              Smolder

7.British-xion       American -ction

Connexion              connection

Inflexion                 inflection

8.British ll               American l

Levelled                   leveled

Quarrelled               Quarreled

Travelled                 Traveled

9.British e               American e omitted

Acknowledgement     Acknowledgment

Judgement                Judgment

One likely cause of confusion spelling is the presence in the language of words that are similar in sound but different in meaning. Some of the most troublesome among them are listed below.

Ascent: climbing, a way sloping up;
assent; agreement, to agree

All ready: everyone is ready;
already; by this time

All together: as a group;
altogether: entirely, completely

Altar: a structure used in worship;
alter: to change

Capital: chief, leading or governing city, wealth,
capitol: a building that houses the state or national law-makers

Cite: to use as an example, to quote;
site: location

Clothes: wearing apparel;
cloths; two or more pieces of cloth.

Complement: that which completes, to supply a lack;
Compliment : praise, flattering remark, to praise

Corps: a military group or unit;
corpse: a dead body

Council: an assembly of law-makers;
counsel: advice, one who advises, to give advice.

Dairy: a factory or farm engaged in milk production;
Diary: a daily record of experiences and observation

Descent: a way sloping down;
Dissent : disagreement, to disagree

Dining: eating;
dinning: making a continuing noise

Dying: ceasing to live;
dyeing: process of colouring fabrics

Formally: in a formal manner;
formerly: before

Forth: forward in place or space, onward in time;
fourth: the ordinal equivalent of the number 4

Loose: free from bonds;
Lose : to suffer a loss

Personal: pertaining to a particular person, individual;
personnel: body of persons employed in the same work or service.

Principal: chief, most important, a school official, a capital sum (as distinguished from interest or profit);
principle: a belief, a rule of conduct or thought

Respectfully; with respect;
respectively: in order, in turn.

Stationery: writing paper;
stationary: not moving

Their : possessive’re contraction of they are;
There: adverb of place.

Whose: possessive form of whom;
who’s : contraction of who is

Your: possessive form of you;
you’re: contraction of ‘you are’

Observation of the above rules and directions will result in the avoidance of a large number of spelling errors. The only thing that will remain to be done will be learning how to spell about a thousand most frequently misspelt words.