SPELLING RULES

Rule 1 - One syllable words ending in f, l, s, after one vowel usually have ff, ll, and ss (buff, cuff, huff, puff, stuff, muff, fill, hill, mill, pill, miss, bliss).

Rule 2 - One syllable words ending in a consonant, after one vowel, double the consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel, but not if the suffix begins a consonant.

Example --win -- winner, big -- bigger, bigness, roll -- roller, robber, beat -- beating, beater

Rule 3 - Words ending in silent e, drop the e, before a suffix beginning with a vowel, but do not drop the e before a suffix beginning with a consonant.

Example -- hopeful, hoping.

  Exceptions:  words ending in cr or ge retain e before suffix beginning with a or o.

Example --

able

age

ing

different

one

ous

peace

change

mile

dye

due

duly

outrage

trace

charge

acre

sing

true

truly

advantage

notice

manager

 

hoe

whole

wholly

 

service

exchange

 

shoe

awe

awful

 

replace

     

judge

judgment

 

pronounce

     

argue

argument

 
       

acknowledge

argument

 
             

Rule 4 - y following a consonant, drop, add I and suffix (unless suffix begins with i.)

Rule 5 - Words with more than one syllable, ending in a consonant, after one vowel, double the final consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel, if the accent is on the last syllable.

Example -- beginning, opening

Rule 6 - Regular plurals add s

Rule 7 - Plurals of nouns ending in s, x, z, ch, sh, add es (e has the shwa sound.)

Example --glassss????,  topazs???,  try to pronounce ??????

Rule 8 - Nouns ending in y after a vowel add s. Nouns ending in y after a consonant change y to I and add es.

Rule 9 - Plural of nouns ending in o after a vowel add s. After a consonant, consult a dictionary.  

Rule 10 - Most nouns ending in f or fe add s. Some change f or fe to ves:

Example -- 

f
fe

beef

beeves

calf

calves

elf

elves

half

halves

leaf

leaves

loaf

loaves

self

selves

sheaf

sheaves

shelf

shelves

thief

thieves

wolf

wolves

f
fe

knife

knives

wife

wives

 life 

lives

Irregular

deer

deer

sheep

sheep

moose

moose

grouse

grouse/s

swine

swine

ox

oxen

mouse

mice

foot

feet

tooth

teeth

man

men

woman

women

Rule 11 - Possessives add  s if s there because of plural just add .  Personal pronoun need no (aphostrophe).

Rule 12 -Possessive of letters, figures, and sign,  s  

Rule 13 - i before e except after c and all words sounding as a as in neighbor and weigh.

Exception: Neither the weird foreigner, nor the ancient financier can seize our ideas of leisure and sport at their height sufficient, efficient, deficien and science.

Rule 14 - Suffix ful differs from word full. Suffix never has two ls 

Example --joy  joyful

Rule 15 - Add suffix ly- base word does not change. If the original world ends in l then the next word has two  ls.

Rule 16 - Words ending in a diphthong, the second letter is y, remain unchanged before any suffix.

pray

prayed

praying

play 

played

playing

buy

 

buying

delay

delayed

delaying

relay

relay

relaying

enjoy

enjoyed

enjoying

employ

employed

employing

prey

preyed

preying

bray

brayed

braying

stray

strayed

straying

fray

frayed

fraying

dismay

dismayed

dismaying

destroy

destroyed

destroying

display

displayed

displaying

Exception: In the following words the y changes to i.

day

daily

say

said

lay

laid

pay

paid

gay

Either gaily/ gaily

slay slain

Final y after a consonant changes to i before any suffix except one beginning with i (ing, ist):  (accompanist is an exception)

pity

pitiful

   

copy

copied

copying

copyist

 

er, est, ly, ness

ous

ance

able

ed, ing

al

ant

ist

noisy

spooky

glory

melody

rely

ply

spy

study

deny

ply

copy

lucky

crafty

fury

luxury

defy

pity

cry

busy

 

rely

 

plucky

ready

vary

harmony

comply

rely

dry

pity

 

comply

 

worthy

busy

study

industry

ally

 

shy

fancy

 

defy

 

heavy

merry

envy

perfidy

   

try

occupy

     

murky

steady

mystery

ceremony

   

fry

justify

     

dusty

healthy

injury

parsimony

   

carry

copy

     

moldy

dainty

victory

     

multiply

       

jelly

sleepy

       

supply

       

moody

         

embody

       

ExceptionsThe following words retain y before ly and ness, but usually follow the rule before other suffixes.

y before ly

ness

But

ier

iest

dry

dryly

dryness

 

drier

driest

shy

shyly

shyness

 

shier

shiest

sly

slyly

slyness

 

slier

sliest

spry

spryly

   

sprier

spriest

wry

wryly

   

wrier

wriest

Rule 17 - The prefixes dis and mis are placed before a word without altering its spelling; dissatisfy, misdeed.

Hint: Before you write one these types of words think of the root before and then you will know if it has a double s.

Rule 18 - The final consonant of a prefix may change to match the following letter or to a letter more easily blended with it.

Example --collide instead of  con lide

Double letter are frequently the cause of this.

imperfect

impossible

impure

immovable

immediate

immortal

illegal

illiberal

illegible

irregular

irresponsible

irrepressible

Hint: Pronounce words like this and you usually can hear which sounds better - in perfect or im perfect.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©