Spelling Information

The following information is from the website http://www.dyslexia.org/spelling_rules.shtml.

ENGLISH SPELLING RULES
Short and Long Vowels

1. To spell a short vowel sound, only one letteris needed:
 
                at          red           it           hot           up

2. To spell a long sound you must add a secondvowel. The second may be next to the first, in the VVC pattern (boat, maid,cue, etc.) or it may be separated from the first one by a consonant inthe VCV pattern (made, ride, tide,etc.). If the second vowel is separated from the first by two spaces, itdoes not affect the first one. This is the VCCV pattern in which the firstvowel remains short. Thus, doubling a consonant can be called"protecting" a short vowel because it prevents an incoming vowel fromgetting close enough to the first one to change its sound from short tolong: 

         maid,  made,  but  madder;           dine,  diner,  but dinner.

Spelling the Sound /k/

This sound can be spelled in any one of fourways:

1. c     2.cc     3. k        4. ck

1. The single letter, c , is the most common spelling. It may be used anywhere in a word:

cat

corn

actor

victim

direct

mica

scat 

bacon 

public 

cactus 

inflict 

pecan

 

2. Sometimes the letter c must be doubled to cc to protect the sound ofa short vowel:

stucco 

baccalaureate 

hiccups

Mecca 

tobacco 

buccaneer

occupy

raccoon 

succulent 

 

3. The letter k is substituted for c if /k/ is followed by an e, i, or y.

kin 

make 

sketch 

poker 

kind 

risky

skin 

token 

skill 

keep 

liking 

flaky

 

(Boring examples? How about kyphosis, kylix,keratosis, and dyskinesia?)


 

4. Similarly, the spelling ck, is substitutedfor cc if the following letter is an e, i, or y:

lucky 

picking 

rocking 

finicky

blackest 

mackintosh 

frolicked 

ducking

Kentucky 

picnicking 

stocking 

Quebecker


5. The letters,
k and ck are more thansubstitutes for c and cc. They are used to spell/k/ at the end of a monosyllable. The digraph, ck, ALWAYS follows a short vowel:

sack 

duck 

lick 

stick 

wreck 

clock

 

(Forget about yak. Yourstudent will never need it.)

The letter, k, follows any othersound:

milk 

soak 

make 

bark

tank 

peek 

bike 

cork

tusk 

hawk 

duke 

perk


The Sound, /j/
The sound, /j/ is spelled in three ways:
j ge and dge.

1. The letter j is usually used if thesound if followed by an a, o, or u.

just 

jam 

jungle 

injure 

major 

adjacent 

jog 

jar 

Japan 

jury 

job 

Benjamin

adjust 

jacket 

jolly 

jaguar 

jump 

jalousie

 

2. Since the letter g has the soft sound of /j/ when it is followed by an e, i, or y, it is usually used in this situation:

gentle 

ginger 

aging 

algebra

Egyptologist 

gem 

origin 

gym

 

2. If /j/ follows a short vowel sound, it isusually spelled with dge. This is because the letter j, is never doubled inEnglish.

badge 

ridge 

dodge 

partridge 

gadget

judge 

edge 

smudge 

judgement 

budget


The Sound, /ch/

The sound /ch/ has two spellings: tch after a short vowel, ch anywhere else:

witch 

sketch 

botch 

satchel

catch 

hatchet 

kitchen 

escutcheon

Exceptions:
Which, rich, much, such, touch, bachelor,attach, sandwich, and ostrich.

The Sound, /kw/
This sound is ALWAYSspelled with the letters, qu, never anything else.

Using -le

Words ending in -le, such as little, require care. If the vowel sound is short, theremust be two consonants between the vowel and the -le. Otherwise, one consonantis enough.

li tt le

ha nd le

ti ck le

a mp le

bo tt le

pu zz le

cru mb le

a ng le

 

bugle

able

poodle

dawdle 

needle 

idle 

people

 

Odds and Ends

1. The consonants, v, j, k, w, and x are never doubled.
2. No normal English words ends with the letter v. A final /v/ is alwaysspelled with
ve, no matter what the preceding vowel sound maybe:

have 

give 

sleeve 

cove 

receive 

love 

connive 

brave 

 


 

Adding Endings

There are two kinds of suffixes, those thatbegin with a vowel and those that begin with a consonant. As usual, thespelling problems occur with the vowels:
 

Vowel Suffixes

 

Consonant Suffixes

- - - age

 - - -ist

 - - - ness

- - - cess

- - - ant 

- - - ish

 - - -less

- - -ment

- - -ance

 - - -ing

 - - -ly

 - - -ty

- - - al

- - -ar

 - - -ful

 - - -ry

 - - -ism

 - - -o

 - - -hood

 - - -ward

- - -able 

- - -on

 - - -wise

 

- - -an

- - -ous

 

 

- - - a

 - - -or

 

 

- - -es

 - - -ual

 

 

- - -ed

 - - -unt

 

 

- - -er

- - -um

 

 

- - -est

  - - -us

 

 

- - -y

 - - -ive

 

 


1. Words that end in the letter y must have the
y changed to i before adding any suffix:

body - bodily 

marry - marriage 

many - manifold 

family -  familiar 

happy - happiness

puppy - puppies

beauty - beautiful 

vary - various  

company - companion

fury - furious 

plenty - plentiful 

merry - merriment


2. In words that end in a silent e you must drop it before you add a vowelsuffix. The silent e is no longer needed to make the preceding vowel long asthe incoming vowel will do the trick:

ride - riding 

cure - curable 

use - usual 

age - aging 

fame - famous 

force - forcing 

refuse -  refusal 

slice - slicing

pure - purity 

ice - icicle

nose - nosy 

convince - convincing

globe - global 

race - racist 

pole - polar 

offense - offensive


 

3. Words that end in an accented short ormodified vowel sound must have the final consonant doubled to protect thatsound when you add a vowel suffix:

Quebec - Quebecker

remit - remittance 

confer - conferring 

refer - referred 

upset - upsetting 

shellac - shellacking

occur - occurred 

concur- concurrent

 

Note that this doubling is not done if theaccent is not on the last syllable. If the word ends in a schwa, there is noneed to "protect" it.

open - opening 

organ - organize 

focus - focused

refer - referee 

 

4. Normally you drop a silent e before adding avowel suffix. However, if the word ends in -ce or -ge and theincoming vowel is an a, o, or u, you cannot cavalierly toss out that silent e.It is not useless: it is keeping its left-hand letter soft, and your a, o,or u will not do that. Thus:

manage - manageable 

peace - peaceable 

courage - courageous 

revenge - vengeance

surge - surgeon 

change - changeable 

notice - noticeable 

outrage - outrageous


Gorgeous George bludgeoned a pigeon noticeably!Tsk.




 

5. Adding consonant suffixes is easy. You justadd them. (Of course you must change a final y to i before you add any suffix.)

peace - peaceful  

harm - harmless  

age - ageless

pity - pitiful 

child - childhood

rifle - riflery

/sh/

When this sound occurs before a vowel suffix, itis spelled ti, si, or ci.

partial 

cautious 

patient 

vacation

special 

deficient 

suspicion 

suction

inerti

delicious 

rati

pension

musician 

physician 

optician 

quotient

electrician 

nutrition 

statistician 

expulsion

/ee/ before a vowelsuffix

When /ee/ precedes a vowel suffix, it is usuallyspelled with the letter i:

Indian 

obvious 

medium

ingredient 

zodiac 

material





 

Spelling Determined byWord Meaning

1. Mist and missed sound alike, as do band andbanned. To determine the spelling, remember that -ed is a past-tense tending.

  1. The mist drifted into the harbor.
  2. I nearly missed my bus.
  3. The movie was banned in Boston.
  4. The band played on.

2. The endings of dentist and finest soundalike. Deciding which one to use can be tricky. One rule helps but doesn'tcover all cases:

  1. --ist is a suffix meaning someone who does something:
       artist    -   machinist    -   druggist
  2. --est is the ending used on superlative adjectives:
       finest    -   sweetest    -   longest

3. The sounds at the end of musician and conditionsound alike. but....

  1. cian always means a person, where...
  2. tion or sion are never used for people.


4. How do you tell whether to use tion or sion?

  1. If the root word ends in /t/, use -tion: complete, completion
  2. If the root word ends in /s/ or /d/, use sion: extend, extension
    suppress, suppression
  3. If the sound of the last syllable is the "heavy" sound of /zhun/ rather than the light sound, /shun/, use s: confusion, vision, adhesion

Exception: The ending, --mit becomes -mission:

permit - permission 

omit - omission

submit - submission 

commit - commission


The Hiss

1. The letter s between vowels soundslike a z:

nose 

result 

noise

present 

partisan 

tease

preside 

resound 

reserve


 

2. The light "hissy" sound is spelledwith either ss or ce. Predictably, ss, likeany proper doubled consonant, follows accented short vowels. Soft c is usedanywhere else. (A soft c is one that is followed by e, i, or y).

notice 

reticent 

massive

bicycle 

recent 

gossip

russet 

rejoice 

essence

vessel 

discuss 

pass


3. The plural ending is always spelled with a single letter s unless you canhear a new syllable on the plural word. In that case, use -
es:

loss, losses

bank, banks

 twitch, twitches

tree, trees

box, boxes

list, lists 

judge, judges

 


No compendium of spelling rules would be complete with the most important ruleof all:
WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK (or look it up)