If you’ve ever felt afraid to write without a spell checker, this lesson is for you. While you should definitely keep spell check turned on, here are a few simple rules to boost your spelling confidence.
Did you ever learn the rhyme, “I before E except after C, or when sounded as A, as in neighbour and weigh”? That mnemonic makes this rule easy to remember, so let’s look at some examples:
Now, it’s time for some exceptions!
Spell check will almost certainly correct you if you spell one of these words wrong.
If a word ends in -y when it’s singular, change it to -ie when you pluralize:
Generally, you make a word plural by adding -s to the end of it. But with words that end in -s, -sh, -ch, -x, -z, you add -es to make them plural.
If the -ch is pronounced like a “k”, you pluralize by just adding -s.
This is our last rule about plurals. Words that end in -f or -fe usually change their ending to -ves in the plural.
Of course, there are exceptions:
Words that end in -ff just add -s:
When you add a suffix (ending) to a word, double the final consonant if the last three letters are consonant vowel consonant.
There are many exceptions to this rule, so pay attention to your spell checker.
Adding -ly to a word is very common when you’re forming adverbs. Generally, you just stick the -ly right on to the end of the word.
Now, it’s time for some exceptions!
If the word ends in -ll, just add -y:
If the word ends in -le, remove the -e and and -y:
If the word ends in -y, remove the -y and add -ily:
When you’re writing, it’s helpful to know where your client is from so that you can follow their preferred spelling. American spelling in used in the US, British spelling in used in other English speaking countries, and both versions are common in Canada. If your spell checker is set on American English it will generally not recognize British spellings, and vice versa.
Words that are spelled -or in American English are spelled -our in British English.
Words that end in -er in American English end in -re in British English.
Words that are spelled -ize in American English are spelled -ise in British English.
Similarly, words that end in -yze in American English end in -yse in British English.
Words that end in -ense in American English end in -ence in British English.
In American spelling, words can end in -og or -ogue. In British spelling they always end in -ogue.
Verbs that end in a vowel + -l do not double the “l” when adding suffixes in American English. The “l” is doubled in British English.
The past tense of single syllable words is formed by adding -ed in American English. It is formed by adding -t in British English.
Some words that are spelled with a single vowel in American English use two vowels British English.
Some words are just spelled differently in American and British English:
Spelling mistakes detract from your content by making you look unprofessional and sloppy. English has so many wacky spellings that it can be difficult to spell correctly. Here are some of the most commonly misspelled words so that you can make sure you’re spelling them correctly.
English is full homophones — words that sound sound the same but are spelled differently. In this lesson, we’re going to sort out any confusion you may have with homophones and other commonly confused words.
It’s especially important to spell these words correctly because your spell checker might not realize that you’re using the wrong word.
Accept means to take, receive, agree, or consent. Except means to exclude something.
I accept your love of sardines.
Gabrielle likes all pizza toppings except sardines.
Advice is a noun meaning opinion or recommendation. Advise is a verb meaning to offer advice.
My mother gave me good advice about shopping frugally.
My mother advises me to shop frugally.
Affect is a verb meaning to influence. Effect is a noun meaning the result. So when you affect something, you produce an effect.
Drinking coffee at 10PM affects my ability to sleep.
Late night coffee has a detrimental effect on my sleep.
Allowed means permitted. Aloud means not silent.
Hudson allowed his daughter to ride his skateboard.
I sometimes think aloud while skateboarding.
Allot is a verb meaning to divide, distribute, or give a portion of something. A lot means a large amount. Alot is not a word.
I will allot the left side of the garden to Vanessa.
There are a lot of plants in that garden.
Ascent is a noun meaning a rise or climb. Assent is a noun meaning agreement and a verb meaning to agree.
Mt. Everest is a steep ascent.
Kane assented to waiting another day at the base camp.
Cite means to quote. Sight means to see or the sense of seeing. Site means a location and is used to refer to websites.
Nina cited four different sources in this blog post.
Nina’s blog is dedicated to understanding sight.
Nina’s blog is my favorite site about science.
Complement means go well together. Compliment is a nice remark. Complimentary also means that something is free.
Shane’s passion for blogging complements his skill.
He loves compliments about his writing.
Shane promotes his blog with complimentary giveaways.
Desert is a piece of land that is extremely dry. Dessert is something sweet eaten after a meal.
If I were lost is the desert, I would look for chocolate first and water second.
Unsurprisingly, chocolate is my favorite dessert.
Lay is a transitive verb, meaning that it must take an object (have something that it’s doing the action to). It means to put down. Lie is intransitive, so it doesn’t take an object. It means to recline.
Helena lay down her book.
Now she lies in the sun instead of reading.
In the first sentence, “book” is the object. In the second sentence, there is not object.
Now, it’s time for another complication. Laid is the past tense of lay, and lay is the past tense of lie.
Helena laid down her book.
Then she lay in the sun instead of reading.
Loose means not tight. Lose means to be deprived of or unable to find something.
These pants aren’t loose enough.
If I lose weight, they might fit, though.
Principal can be a noun or an adjective. As an adjective, it refers to the main or most important thing. Its meaning as a noun is similar; it means the head or leader of something. Principle is always a noun, and it refers to a fundamental idea or rule as well as beliefs and morals.
My principal concern is who will run the school.
Since the principal is the head of the school, that should be his job.
Yes, that’s the general principle.
But do you think his principles are good enough for the job?
Regardless means without concern or attention. Irregardless is not a word. Regardless already means without regard, so irregardless would mean without without regard, which doesn’t make sense.
Martin, regardless of my advice, went to the library during the blizzard.
Than compares two things. Then indicates when something happened.
I like writing Facebook posts more than writing tweets.
I will write the Facebook posts and then the tweets.
To indicates direction. Too means also. Two is the number 2.
I’m going to the basketball game.
Do you want to come too?
The two teams are both amazing.
Weather refers to the temperature outside. Whether is a conjunction used in choosing between two options and also expresses inquiry or investigation.
This is record-breaking hot weather.
I’m not sure whether we should go swimming at the lake or in the ocean.
You know that phrase that you mispronounced as a kid and have never quite figured how to actually say it. Well, now’s your chance.
There are 360 degrees in a circle, so if you make a complete turn or change, you turn 180 degrees.
Emily was going to buy a new house with her lottery money, but she made a 180 degree turn and donated all the money to charity.
Saying “I couldn’t care less” means “I don’t care at all”. If you say “I could care less”, it sounds like you do care, which I bet isn’t what you mean.
I couldn’t care less about National Thread the Needle day.
This phrase means “practically speaking”. It has intents and purposes, but not intensive purposes.
Max visits sometimes, but for all intents and purposes I live alone.
Literally means it really truly happened.
If you’re reading this, you’ve never literally died.
This phrase means “stop it early”. The “bud” is like a flower bud, something that’s young and hasn’t developed yet. That’s not the same as “butt”.
Patricia nips all unprofitable transactions in the bud.
Yep, you’ve got to have that -d on the end of supposed.
Adrian is supposed to do his homework, but he prefers watching music videos.