01.02.2016 |

Episode #7 of the course “The basics of English writing” by Sarah Stanley


With the advance of technology, we have many tools to help those of us who can’t remember if it’s “misspelled” or “mispelled.” While autocorrect and spell checkers are a great help on phones and computers, they do make mistakes.

Here are the most basic rules of spelling:

1. Short Vowel Rule: When one-syllable words have a vowel in the middle, the vowel usually has a short sound: Examples: cat, dog, man, hat, mom, dad, got.

If the letter after the vowel is f, l, or s, this letter is often doubled. Examples: staff, ball, pass.

2. Two Vowels Together: When two vowels are next to each other, the first vowel is usually long (the sound is the same as the sound of the letter) and the second vowel is silent. Examples: meat, seat, plain, rain, goat, road, lie, pie.

3. “Vowel-Consonant-E” Pattern: When a short word or the last syllable of a longer word ends in vowel-consonant-e, the first vowel is usually long and the e is silent. Examples: place, cake, mice, vote, mute.

4. Y as a Long I: The letter y makes the long sound of i when it comes at the end of a short word that has no other vowels. Examples: cry, try, my, fly, by.

5. Y as a Long E: When y or ey ends a word in an unaccented syllable, the y has the long sound of e. Examples: money, honey, many, key, funny.

6. I before E: Write i before e when the sound is long e, except after the letter c. Examples: relieve, relief, reprieve. Notice the change when there is a c preceding the ie: receipt, receive, ceiling, deceive, conceive.

7. E before I: Write e before i when the sound is long a. Examples: weight, freight, reign.

8. Oi or Oy: Use oi in the middle of a word and use oy at the end of a word. Examples: boil, soil, toil, boy, toy.

9. Ou or Ow: Use ou in the middle of a word and use ow at the end of words other than those that end in n or d. Examples: mouse, house, found, mount, borrow, row, throw, crow.

10. Double Consonants: When b, d, g, m, n, or p appear after a short vowel in a word with two syllables, double the consonant. Examples: rabbit, manner, dagger, banner, drummer.

11. The “ch” sound: At the beginning of a word, use ch. At the end of a word, use tch. When the ch sound is followed by ure or ion, use t. Examples: choose, champ, watch, catch, picture, rapture.

The Oxford Dictionary lists the most commonly spelled words (read the entire list here), but in the meantime, here are some examples of words and their common misspellings.


Example → incorrect spelling

accommodate → accomodate
achieve→ acheive
bizarre→ bizzare
cemetery→ cemetary
committee→ commitee
disappoint→ dissapoint
noticeable→ noticable
propaganda→ propoganda
religious→ religous
wherever→ whereever

Sources: 1, 2


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