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Spelling Rules

Spelling Rule Example Words Useful Links

Endings which sound like /shus/ spelt cious or –tious. Exception: anxious.

vicious, precious, conscious, delicious,

malicious, suspicious ambitious, cautious, fictitious, infectious, nutritious

 

Endings which

sound like /shal/ Usually spelt–cial after a vowel letter and –tial after a consonant letter, but there are some exceptions.

official, special, artificial, partial, confidential, essential

Exceptions: initial, financial,

commercial, provincial

 

Words ending in –ant,–ance/–ancy,–ent,–ence/–ency

observant, observance, (observation), expectant (expectation), hesitant,

hesitancy (hesitation), innocent, innocence, decent, decency, frequent,

frequency, assistant, assistance,

obedient, obedience,

 

Words ending in –able and–ably. Are usually used if there is a complete root word e.g. reason /reasonable

 

Words ending in –ible and–ibly. Are usually used if there is no clear root word e.g. horrible/horribly

dependable, comfortable/comfortably understandable/understandably reasonable/reasonably enjoyable,

reliable/reliably

 

possible/possibly, horrible/horribly,

terrible/terribly, visible/visibly,

incredible/incredibly, sensible/sensibly

 

Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words ending in –fer

 

The r is doubled if the –fer is still

stressed when the ending is added.

The r is not doubled if the –fer is no

longer stressed.

referring, referred, referral, preferring, preferred, transferring, transferred

reference, referee, preference, transference

 

Use of the hyphen

co-ordinate, re-enter, co-operate, co-own

 

Words with the /ee/ sound spelt

ei after c

deceive, conceive, receive, perceive, ceiling

 

Words containing the letter-string

Ough. -ough is one of the trickiest spellings in English – it can be used to spell a number of different sounds.

ought, bought, thought, nought, brought, fought

rough, tough, enough

cough

though, although, dough

through

thorough, borough

plough, bough

 

Words with ‘silent’ letters(i.e. letters

Whose presence cannot be predicted from the pronunciation of the word)

doubt, island, lamb, solemn, thistle, knight

 

Homophones and other words that are

often confused

 

 

 

Homophones

and other

words that are

often confused

(continued)

end –ce and verbs end –se. Advice and advise provide a useful clue as the word advise (verb) is pronounced with a /z/ sound – which could not be spelt c.

More examples:

aisle: a gangway between seats (in a

church, train, plane).

isle: an island.

aloud: out loud.

allowed: permitted.

affect: usually a verb (e.g. The

weather may affect our plans).

effect: usually a noun (e.g. It may have

an effect on our plans). If a verb, it

means ‘bring about’ (e.g. He will effect

changes in the running of the business).

altar: a table-like piece of furniture in a

church.

alter: to change.

ascent: the act of ascending (going up).

assent: to agree/agreement (verb and

noun).

bridal: to do with a bride at a wedding.

bridle: reins etc. for controlling a horse.

cereal: made from grain (e.g. breakfast

cereal).

serial: adjective from the noun series

a succession of things one after the

other.

compliment: to make nice remarks

about someone (verb) or the remark

that is made (noun).

complement: related to the word

complete – to make something

complete or more complete (e.g. her

scarf complemented her outfit).

 

 

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