What Are Some Rules for Spelling Words in English?


"I before e except after c," is one of the most common English language spelling rules. Two other common rules are "Q is followed by u," and "S never follows x."

Another handy rule is that only one vowel is needed when the vowel sound is short. This rule applies consistently to three letter words, such as red and hot. Like most English spelling rules, there are exceptions, such as head and laugh.

Suffixes are an area with many spelling rules. A common rule is to drop a silent "e" when adding a suffix that starts with a vowel. "Come" and "coming" and "hope" and "hoping" are two examples of this rule. Another rule around suffixes concerns adding an ending to a word that ends with "y." In this case, the "y" changes to and "i" if it is preceded by a consonant. Thus, "marry" becomes "married" and "pry" becomes "pried." However, when adding -ing to most words that end in "y," the correct spelling includes the "y." "Marrying" and "prying" are examples of this rule.

While teachers no longer consider rote memorization of words the best method of learning how to spell, memorizing basic English spelling rules is helpful to some. Educational professionals also recommend that people who are trying to improve their spelling keep a notebook of difficult words and underline the portion of the word that is causing them difficulty.