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Is 'spell check' your best friend?

Let's face it. One of the worst things about writing in English is spelling. Or one of the worst things about English is its pronunciation. Why? Because unlike languages such as Spanish and Italian, English isn't pronounced like it's written or written like it's pronounced. So that means more studying, more memorizing and just more faff. Now, I won't lie to you, some studying and even memorizing is necessary if you want to write well in English, even us native speakers have spelling doubts sometimes (thank technology for spell check, right?)! So, this post isn't going to give you the magic formula to suddenly be able to spell everything perfectly, but it will give you a few tips for those common mistakes that many people make.

 

A...B...C...

When to double a consonant: this often happens when adding endings like -ing, -ed, -er, -est. This takes place when you have a word that is a "vowel sandwich" (a vowel in between 2 consonants). For example:

  • rob - robbing

  • sad - sadder

  • big - bigger

  • swim - swimming

  • win - winner

  • pop - popping

  • prefer - preferred

  • hit - hitting

To drop or not to drop the final -e, that is the question.

  • When the suffix begins with a vowel, for example -ing, always drop the -e

  • make - making

  • create - creating

  • When a word finishes in -ee, don't drop the -e

  • agree - agreeing

  • When a word ends in -ge or -ce, don't drop the -e (unless the suffix is -ing)

  • manage - management - managing

  • trace - traceable - tracing

I before E, except after C

  • Examples I before E: believe, chief, belief, niece, piece, diesel

  • Examples after C: receive, deceit, ceiling, receipt, perceive

OF COURSE there are some exceptions that you just have to remember:

  • weird, leisure, either, neither, foreign, science, height, weight

​Words ending in -y

  • When conjugating verbs in the 3rd person simple, -y changes to -ies

  • I, you, we, they cry - he, she it cries

  • When adding the suffix -ing, don't change the -y.

  • fly - flying, try - trying, cry - crying, fry - frying, hurry - hurrying, identify - identifying


 

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it will certainly help you avoid some of the more common spelling mistakes. And for everything else, there's MasterCard... I mean, spell check! Are there any words that you always seem to misspell? Leave a comment!

 

Glossary

  • to face something: to handle or manage a difficult situation

  • faff: informal, UK word for something unnecessary or complicated

  • the tip of the iceberg: idiom - just a small part of something very big


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