English Spelling Tools

Dictionaries: a dictionary not only contains the spelling of a word!
It also contains the spelling of its derivatives: plural forms and participles.

Since English is so exceptional in its spellings, a dictionary assists you in finding exceptions to the rules of spelling.

Spell checkers in word processing:

  • quite frankly, you are foolish if you do not spell check each and every word-processed document

  • you are also foolish if you do not proof-read each document after spell-checking!
    A spell checker will only find words incorrectly spelled. It will not find words correctly spelled but mis-used.
    Common errors:

from and form: a common typing inversion;
of, or: another case of mistaken keyboarding;
to, too, two; there, their; whether, weather: common confusion of usage

Remembering a "spelling":

  • Always check a dictionary for the correct pronunciation of the word--this will help you remember how to spell the word;
  • Also check for the meaning and history of the word--this provides additional information;
  • Practice spelling the word to yourself before you close the dictionary: write it down or visualize it in your mind's eye. Check the spelling in the dictionary again to ensure that you have learned to spell the word correctly;
  • Learn basic spelling rules. (See below).

Four Key Spelling Rules

  • Write "i" before "e" except after "c," or when sounding like "a" as in "neighbor" and "weigh." When the "ie/ei" combination is not pronounced "ee," it is usually spelled "ei."

Examples: ie

fiery, friend, mischief, view, believe

Examples: ei

reign, foreign, weigh, neighbor, weird, receive
  • If a word ends with a silent "e," drop the "e" before adding a suffix which begins with a vowel:
state--stating; like--liking
  • You do not drop the "e" when the suffix begins with a vowel:
state--statement; like--likeness; use--useful
  • When "y" is the last letter in a word and the "y" is preceded by a consonant, change the "y" to "i" before adding any suffix except those beginning with "i":
beauty--beautiful; fry--fries; hurry--hurried; lady--ladies
  • When forming the plural of a word which ends with a "y" that is preceded by a vowel, add "s":
toy--toys; play--plays; monkey--monkeys
  • When a one-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by one vowel, double the final consonant before adding a suffix which begins with a vowel:
bat--batted, --batting; prod--prodded, --prodding
  • When a multi-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by one vowel, the same rule holds true: double the final consonant:
control--controlled; sum--summary;
god--goddess; prefer--preferred