Spellmasters Australia

Spelling Basics

Here are some spelling rules to learn. These can be very helpful but remember that in English there are lots of exceptions. We have listed some of them.

"ie" or "ei"
Rule: "i" before "e" except after "c".
Examples: Believe, receive, receipt, ceiling, relief, niece, shield
Exceptions: Neither, leisure, foreigner, counterfeit, stein, Seize, weird, height

Rule: If the sound is "ay" the spelling is "ei"
Examples: eight, deity, neigh, neighbour, freight, weigh

Rule: The spelling of a word does not change when you add a prefix to it even when the first letter of the word and the last letter of the prefix are the same.
mis + step = misstep
pre + eminent = preeminent

Doubling final consonants
Rule: A word of more than one syllable ending in a single consonant after a single vowel, doubles the consonant before adding -ed or -ing
Examples: occur/occurring, begin/beginning, compel/compelled, prefer/preferring, control/controlling

Remember - Words of more than one syllable have their consonants doubled only when the final syllable is stressed (say the word out loud).
begin - beginn ing BUT open - opening
defer - deferr ing BUT offer - offering

Rule: If the preceding vowel is unstressed or spelled with two vowels, do not double the consonant.
Examples: enter/entering, visit/visiting, develop/developing, dread/dreading, appeal/appealing, shout/shouting
Exceptions: worship/worshipping, kidnap/kidnapping, handicap/handicapped

Rule: Final consonants are not doubled before suffixes beginning with a consonant.
Examples: enrol/enrolment, commit/ commitment, fulfil/fulfilment, prefer/preferment, quarrel/quarrelsome, rival/rivalry

Rule: Words of more than one syllable ending in "l" double the "l" even if the stress does not fall on the last syllable.
Examples: cancel/cancelled, travel/travelling, jewel/jeweller
Exceptions: appeal/appealing, parallel/paralleled

The final "e"
Rule: Keep the final "e" of the base word before adding a suffix beginning
with a consonant (-ment, -ness, -less, -ful).
Examples: commencement, pronouncement, amusement
Exceptions: argument, awful, truly, wholly

Rule: If the suffix or verb ending begins with a vowel, drop the final "e".
Examples: commencing, pronouncing, amusing

Rule: To retain the soft sound of the "c" (s sound) and of the "g" (j sound) in words ending in "ce" and "ge", we keep the final "e".
Examples: peace/peaceable, replace/replaceable, arrange/arrangement, advantage/advantageous, notice/noticeable, change/changeable

Rule: Words ending in two vowels (a vowel + final "e") retain the final
vowel "e" before adding a suffix.
Examples: see/seeable, shoe/shoeing, canoe/canoeing

"c" or "g" endings
Rule: For words ending in "c", insert "k" before adding -ing or -y.
Examples: picnic/picnicking, traffic/trafficking, panic/panicky

"y" endings
Rule: If the word has a consonant before the "y", and when adding -ed or
-er after "y", change the "y" to "i".
Examples: mercy/ merciless, fly/flier, carry/carried

Rule: If the word has a vowel before the "y", or when adding -ing keep the "y".
Examples: employ/employed, annoy/annoying, carry/carrying

"o" endings
Rule: If a Noun ends in "o", add -es.
Examples: potato/potatoes, echo/echoes, hero/heroes
Exceptions: studio/studios, piano/pianos, kangaroo/kangaroos, zoo/zoos

The "shen" sound
The sounds at the end of musician and condition sound alike but....
• cian always means a person, where...
• tion or sion are never used for people.

How do you tell whether to use tion or sion?

Rule: If the root word ends in "t", use -tion.
Examples: complete/completion

Rule: If the root word ends in "s" or "d", use sion.
Examples: extend/extension, supress/supression

Rule: If the sound of the last syllable is the "heavy" sound of /zhun/ rather than the light sound, /shun/, use "s".
Examples: confusion, vision, adhesion
Exceptions: The ending, -mit becomes -mission: permit/permission, omit/omission, submit/submission, commit/commission