Spelling Rules


Seven Helpful Spelling Rules

These following simple rules can help you to spell a great many words correctly.

1. Ei, Ie. Put i before e except after c, or when sounded like a as in neighbor and

i before e: believe, chief, niece, field, shield
except after c: ceiling, receive, deceit, conceit, perceive
sounded like a: weight, veil, vein, reign, rein
Exceptions: foreigner, leisure, either, neither, height

2. Ly. Keep the original l when adding ly to a word ending in l.
actually, beautifully, cheerfully, finally, really

3. Final E Before Vowel. Drop silent e before a suffix beginning with a vowel.
admire/able, argue/ing, large/est, enclose/ing, scarce/ity

4. Final E Before Consonant. Keep final silent e before a suffix beginning with a
amazement, atonement, hopeful, fortunately, useful
Exceptions: acknowledgment, argument, awful, duly, judgment,
ninth, truly, wholly

5. Final Y. If final y is preceded by a consonant, change y to i when you add a suffix.
apply + ed = applied (Y changed to i.)
friendly + er = friendlier
noisy + est = noisiest
But notice the following forms:
apply + ing = applying
(Y does not change to i if the suffix begins with i.)
play + er = player
(Y does not change to i if y is preceded by a vowel.)

6. Doubling Final Consonant—One-Syllable Words. Note the following correct
forms. Each final consonant is preceded by a single vowel.
bat + er = batter
(The final consonant, t, is doubled.)
big + est = biggest

drop + ing = dropping
grin + ed = grinned
What happens when the final consonant is preceded by more than one vowel?
beat + en = beaten
(The final consonant, t, is not doubled.)
sail + ed = sailed
dream + er = dreamer
fool + ish = foolish
foam + ing = foaming

7. Doubling Final Consonant—Words of More Than One Syllable. If a word has
more than one syllable and the accent is on the last syllable, the same rule applies
as for a one-syllable word.
commit + ed = committed
(The accent is on the last syllable t is doubled.)
control + ing = controlling
equip + ed = equipped
propel + er = propeller
refer + ed = referred

What happens if the word is not accented on the last syllable?
refer + ence = reference
(The accent is not on er; r is not doubled.)