ArticlesBlog

English Spelling Rules – Learn Spelling Rules and Common Mistakes

English Spelling Rules – Learn Spelling Rules and Common Mistakes


Hi, I’m Maria. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn about English
spelling rules, and see some of the most common spelling mistakes that English learners make. English spelling is famously illogical. Even native speakers commonly misspell words. Interestingly, ‘misspell’ is a word which
is often misspelled! In this lesson, you’ll see four of the most
useful rules that can help you to improve your English spelling and avoid spelling mistakes. You’ll also get to test your spelling skills
on several of the most common spelling mistakes in English. Let’s start with our first rule. Look at five words. Which are spelled correctly, and which
have mistakes? There are two mistakes. Beginner should have two n’s and offering should have one r. Here’s a question: why do you need to double
the n in planning or beginning, but not the r in offering? Why does sitting have a double t, but deciding
just has one d? Spelling mistakes with double consonants are
common, but you can avoid them if you remember the rule. Here it is: If a word ends with a short vowel sound plus
a consonant, and the stress is on the last syllable, then the final consonant is doubled
if you add an ending which starts with a vowel. That sounds complicated, although it’s simpler
than it looks. Let’s do some examples to make it clearer. First of all, this rule applies to all one-syllable
words which end with a short vowel plus a consonant. For example, hot ->hotter
jar ->jarring sad ->saddest
cut ->cutting win ->winner Because of the way English spelling connects
to English pronunciation, you can think of it like this: if a word has one syllable,
and it ends with one vowel and one consonant, then you need to double the final consonant. But, this depends on sounds, not spelling. So, if the final consonant is w or y, don’t
double it: draw ->drawing
grey ->greyer Can you work out why this is? It’s because the words are written with
a consonant, but the sound isn’t pronounced as a consonant. If a word ends with two consonants, or with
a consonant plus vowel, then don’t double any consonants: think ->thinking
write ->writer If a word has two or more syllables, then
you also need to think about the stress. If the stress is on the last syllable, and
the word ends with a short vowel plus a consonant, then you need to double the final consonant;
for example: occur ->occurring
commit ->committee forget ->forgetting However, if the stress is not on the last
syllable, you don’t double the final consonant; for example: happen ->happening
discover ->discoverer water ->watery Remember that for all these words, the rule
only applies if the word ends in a short vowel plus one consonant. This is true if you’re talking about words
with one, two, three or however many syllables. Let’s do a quick test. You’re going to hear a sentence. Pause the video and write down the sentence. You’ll hear it twice. Ready? The cooking committee happened to notice that
his soup was tastier than last year, but also more watery. Listen once more: the cooking committee happened
to notice that his soup was tastier than last year, but also more watery. Could you write down the sentence? Let’s check:
Did you get everything right? No spelling mistakes? If so, that’s great! Let’s move on to our next rule. You’re going to see four spelling mistakes. Can you correct them? The mistakes are all connected with i-e versus
e-i There’s a well-known rule here: “i before
e except after c.” That means that in most cases, i goes before
e: piece
field achieve After the letter c, put e before i: receipt
ceiling conceive But, there are exceptions. One of the exceptions has its own rule: e
goes before i to make an /eɪ/ sound. For example: neighbour
weigh eight Other exceptions are true exceptions; they
don’t follow any rule and you need to remember them. Here are some of the most common exceptions
to this rule: height
leisure weird
caffeine species
ancient Let’s test your skills! You’re going to hear another sentence. Again, try to write the sentence down. You’ll hear it twice. Ready? Her weird neighbour weighed out eight pieces
of ancient caffeine. Her weird neighbour weighed out eight pieces
of ancient caffeine. Here’s the answer: Her weird neighbour weighed out eight pieces
of ancient caffeine. Did you get everything right? No spelling mistakes? If so, well done! If you made some mistakes, you can easily
go back and review this section, and then try again. Let’s look at our next rule Here are five nouns. What are the plurals, and how would you spell
them? Do you know? Here are the answers. You can see that sometimes, you need to write
plurals with es. But, when do you add -es to make a plural,
instead of just -s? It depends on the last letter of the word. If a word ends in -s, -ss, -z, -ch, -sh, or
-x, then you make the plural by adding -es. For example: glasses
buses quizzes
beaches dishes
boxes Okay, but what about tomatoes? That has a plural with -es, but it doesn’t
fit the rule you just saw. There’s one more rule: if a word ends in
a consonant plus -o, then the plural is written with -es. For example: potatoes
heroes mosquitoes However, if a word ends with a vowel plus
-o, then the plural is written only with -s, like this: videos
radios All of these rules also apply when you add
-s to a verb. As usual, there are some exceptions, although
most of them are uncommon words. The most common exceptions to this rule are
logos and pianos. Let’s do a quick test! Here are five words. How do you spell the plural? Pause the video and write down your answers. Ready? Here are the answers. Next, let’s look at one more useful rule
to improve your English spelling. Listen to five words, and try to write them
down. Ready? Truly, changeable, surprising, measurable,
advancing. Listen one more time: truly, changeable, surprising,
measurable, advancing. Here are the words; did you spell them all
correctly? This rule is about adding a suffix to a root
word which ends with -e. For example, true ends with -e. When you add the suffix -ly, the -e disappears. Change also ends with -e, but when you add
the suffix -able¬, the -e doesn’t disappear. Do you know why this is? Whether the -e disappears or not depends on
two things: the spelling of the root word, and the suffix you are adding. Firstly, the -e can only disappear if you
add a suffix which starts with a vowel, like -able, -ible, -ing, -ity or -ed. For example: achievable
taking activity However, if a word ends with -ue, then you
can sometimes drop the -e, even if the suffix begins with a consonant. For example: truly
argument Even when you’re using a suffix which starts
with a vowel, you don’t always drop the -e. If the word ends -ce and the ending has an
/s/ sound, or if a word ends -ge and the ending has a /dʒ/ sound, then you might need to
keep the -e in order to keep the pronunciation the same. For example: manageable
encouragement graceful
unpronounceable As always, these rules have exceptions. Even if a word ends -ce or -ge, you still
drop the -e when you add an -ing suffix. One important exception is the word ageing,
which can be spelled both ways: with an -e (in British English) or without (in American
English). Also, you don’t drop the -e if this would
change the pronunciation. For example, the word agree needs to keep
two -e’s in order to keep its pronunciation: agreeing
agreement agreeable Let’s do a quick test to see how well you
can use these rules! Listen to five more words. Write them down carefully. You’ll hear the words twice. Valuable, interchangeable, faking, seeing,
activity. Valuable, interchangeable, faking, seeing,
activity. Here are the answers. How did you do? Finally let’s look at some words which are
very commonly misspelled, even by native English speakers. Look at four words. They all have spelling mistakes; can you correct
them? Here are the four words; did you get them
all right? What makes these words difficult to spell? In words like accommodation, it’s difficult
to know where to put double letters. What other words are like this? How about committee. How many -m’s? How many -t’s? What about embarrassed, millennium, possession,
correspondence, or harassment? These are difficult because they aren’t
very consistent. Why does embarrass have two -r’s, but harass
only has one? It’s not logical; you have to remember them. In words like conscious or guarantee, the
relationship between the spelling and the pronunciation is strange, even by English
standards. It’s rare that the letters ‘sci’ make
a /ʃ/ sound. There are many words with the letters ‘sci’,
but normally, these letters make a /saɪ/ sound—like science—or a /sɪ/ sound—like
discipline. It’s similar with guarantee. Normally, the /g/ sound is produced by the
letters ‘ge’ or ‘gi’. There’s only one other word family where
‘gua’ makes a /g/ sound. Do you know which? The word guard, and words made from it, like
guardian, are the only other words which behave like this. Again, these spellings are not consistent,
and you need to remember them as exceptions. Finally, what’s the problem with independent? This is difficult because there are two endings
which have the same pronunciation: A-N-C-E and E-N-C-E. So, you have audience with an ‘e’, but
ambulance with an ‘a’; competence with ‘e’, but clearance with ‘a’, interference
with ‘e’, but importance with ‘a’. You can’t hear the difference between these
two endings. Again, you have to remember the spellings. However, it’s not all bad news: there is
some logic here. Important is written with an ‘a’, so the
noun importance keeps the same spelling. Interfere ends with an ‘e’, so again the
noun keeps the same spelling. Now, we want to ask you something: which words
in English do you find most difficult to spell? Let us know in the comments! Check out our website for more free English
lessons: Oxford Online English dot com. Thanks for watching! See you next time!

Comments (4)

  1. The best english learning online class 😊😊

  2. Really nice class and enjoyable class

  3. Also, the "x" is never doubled even if a word ends in a stressed short vowel and an "x" in this order, such as in the words "vexed," "perplexed," and "relaxed," because and "x" consists of two phonemes, the "k" and the "s," even though it is represented as one consonant letter.

  4. Need partner for English practice

Comment here