English Spelling Rules

Understanding English Spelling Rules

by Sandra Johnson

There are so many spelling rules that it can be very difficult to learn all of them. However, if you can learn most of the rules, you will have a much easier time spelling new words. It will also be easier for you to spell words that may be difficult for you now. Of course, there seem to be exceptions to every rule, but this is a great place to start improving your spelling habits.

English Spelling Rules Have Exceptions

‘I’ before ‘e’, except before ‘c’; this is a basic spelling rule, but has many exceptions. However, for the most part this rule will work to help you spell words. For example, ‘receive’ has a ‘c’ and therefore the ‘e’ comes before the ‘i.’ However, in the word ‘believe’ the ‘i’ comes before the ‘e’ because there is no ‘c’ in the word. This rule works with nearly every word in which the letters ‘ie’ or ‘ei’ make a long ‘e’ sound. Certain words in which the letters ‘ei’ make a long ‘i’ sound will not follow this rule, such as ‘neither.’

Silent Letters in English Spelling Rules

There are several cases in which a word will have a silent letter. These English spelling rules are often the most difficult to master, because you cannot hear the letter that you are likely forgetting in your spelling of the word.

1. Silent E — when the vowel is long, there is nearly always a silent e at the end of the word. These words include: like, fare, cure, scene, and dome.2. Long vowel sounds with more than one vowel — some words have a long vowel sound when read, but have two vowels in the word. Only the first vowel sound is heard. This includes words such as goat, road, seat, plain, and pie.

Different English Spelling Rules for Similar Sounds

1. When the ‘ow’ sound is in the middle of the word, use ‘ou.’ When the sound is at the end of the word use ‘ow.’ For example, mouse uses ‘ou’ in the middle of the word, while row uses ‘ow.’ There are some exceptions to this rule, such as towel and owl.

2. When the ‘oy’ sound is at the end of the word, spell it like it sounds. But when the sound is in the middle of the word, you use the spelling ‘oi.’ For example, the word ‘boil’ uses ‘oi’ while the word ‘toy’ uses ‘oy.’

3. The ‘ch’ sound changes spelling slightly at the end of a word as well. When you use it as the beginning of a word, such as church, the sound is spelled ‘ch.’ However, when using it at the end of a word such at ‘witch’ the sound is spelled ‘tch.’ There are exceptions to this rule also, such as which.

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