Why is it so difficult to spell some words in English?


Quick Answer

English spelling can be difficult because English words come from many different languages. English retains the original spelling of some words while changing it for others, making spelling difficult. The same letter combination can have several different pronunciations, depending on the word's origin.

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Why is it so difficult to spell some words in English?
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Full Answer

English words often do not always follow the language's basic spelling rules. While children are often taught the i-before-e rule, there are more exceptions to this rule than there are words that actually follow it. When learning the spelling rules, learners often include the after-c exception; however, it does not account for words such as "their," "weigh" or "foreign."

Prefixes and suffixes that have the same meaning and pronunciation sometimes use different forms when added to certain words. The "-able" suffix in acceptable is spelled "-ible" when used in a word such as "collectible." When adding "-able" to notice, writers must retain the "e" in "notice" to indicate the soft "s" sound of the letter "c"; without it, the "c" is hard and represents a "k" sound as in "applicable."

Silent letters also make words difficult to spell. While many words have a silent "e" at the end, others, such as "pneumonia," have silent consonants at the beginning. Dropping a silent letter sometimes results in a word with the same pronunciation but a different spelling and an entirely different meaning.

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