The eight great spelling rules

While the American English spelling system has evolved from many sources, there are specific patterns worth learning. These spelling patterns or spelling rules all have exceptions; however, they are minimal. It is always efficient to remember the rule rather than all the exceptions. In baseball, batters are taught to “look for the fastball and adjust to the curve.” The same goes for the American English spelling system. The following are the main spelling rules that usually work in the American English spelling system.

1. The i for e line

Usually spell i before e (believe), but spell e before i after ac (receive) and when the letters are pronounced as a long /a/ sound (neighbor).

2. The last line

Keep the y when adding an ending if the word ends with a vowel, then ay (delay-delayed), or if the ending begins with an i (copy-copy). Change the y to i when adding an ending if the word ends in a consonant, then ay (beautiful-most beautiful).

3. The silent email rule

Drop the e (have-have) at the end of a syllable if the ending begins with a vowel. Hold e (close) when the ending starts with a consonant, has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound, then an “ous” or “able” (peaceful, wonderful), or if it ends in “ee”, “oe” or “ye” (freedom, fog, look).

4. The Double Consonant Rule

Double the consonant when adding an ending (allowed), if all three of these conditions are met: 1. the last syllable has the accent (per / mit) 2. the last syllable ends in a vowel, then a consonant (permit ). 3. the ending you add starts with a vowel (ed).

5. The End “one” or “and” rule

End a word with “ance”, “ancy” or “ant” (vacancy, arrogance) if the root has a hard /c/ or /g/ sound or if the root ends in “ear” or “ure” , insurance). End a word with “ence”, “ency” or “ent” if the root before it has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound (magnificent, emergency), after “id” (residence), or if the root ends with “honour” (reverence).

6. The “able” or “able” rule.

End a word with “able” if the stem before it has a hard /c/ or /g/ sound (despicable, navigable), after a full root (to learn), or after a silent e (sympathetic). End a word with “ible” if the root has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound (reducible, legible), after an “ss” (permissible), or after an incomplete root (audible).

7. The End “ion” Rule

Spell “sion” (illusion) before the last zyun sound or the last shun sound (expulsion, compassion) if after an l or s. Spell “cian” (musician) for a person and “tion” (condition) for most other cases.

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8. The plural rule

Spell plural nouns with an s (dog-dogs), even those that end in y (day-days) or those that end in a vowel, then an o (stereo-stereos). Spell “es” after the sounds of /s/, /x/, /z/, /ch/, or /sh/ (box-boxes) or after a consonant, then an o (potato-potatoes). Change the y to i and add “es” if the word ends in a consonant, then ay (ferries). Change the ending of “fe” or “lf” to “ves” (knife-knives, plank-planks).