For intermediate to advanced students
by Viv Quarry (www.vivquarry.com)1. Some words are irregular and you have to learn the plural forms.
child Þ children, woman Þ women, person Þ people, man Þ men, sheep Þ sheep
fish Þ fish, have Þ has, go Þ goes, do Þ does, shelf Þ shelves, knife Þ knives, wife Þ wives
half Þ halves.2. Some nouns are uncountable and have no plural form.
information, data, poor, insurance, bread, software, unemployed, inflation, butter, cheese etc.
3. Spelling of most verbs and nouns ending in 'S'
If the word ends in 'S', 'SH' or 'CH', add 'ES'
bus Þ buses, church Þ churches, watch Þ watches,
kiss Þ kisses, wash Þ washes, watch Þ watches
If the verb ends in CONSONANT + Y, the 'Y' changes to 'IES'
country Þ countries, party Þ parties, fly Þ flies, study Þ studies
For most other words, and words ending in VOWEL + 'Y', add 'S'
book Þ books, student Þ students, boy Þ boys, day Þ days,
wear Þ wears, speak Þ speaks, live Þ lives, play Þ plays4. Words of one syllable (one vowel between two consonants)
If a word has one vowel between two consonants and ends in E, the middle vowel has a long sound.
cape, tape, mate, fate, pane, came, made
fine, pine, wine, dine, write, bite, white
cure, cute, plume
If the word has a long vowel sound, there is a single consonant with suffixes.
fined, pining, wining and dining, writing, biting, whiter
cured, cutely, plumed
If a word of one syllable has two vowels between two consonants it will usually mean a long vowel sound and no doubling of the final consonant.
need Þ needing, fear Þ feared, great Þ greater
If a word of one syllable ends in two consonants it will usually mean a long vowel sound and no doubling of the final consonant.
kind Þ kinder, fast Þ faster, wash Þ washing
If there is no 'E' on the end, the middle vowel has a short sound.
cap, tap, mat, fat, pan, cam, mad
fin, pin, win, din, writ, bit, wit
cut, plum, put
If the word has a short vowel sound, double the final consonant with suffixes
Capped, tapping, matted, fatter, panning
Finned, pinning, winner, dinner, written, bitter, witty
Cutting, putting5. Words of two syllables
If a word of two syllables ends in a consonant and the stress is on the final syllable, double the final consonant.
preferÞ preferred, permit Þ permitting, refer Þ referred, admit Þ admittance
If the stress is on the first syllable, no double consonant.
enter Þ entered, benefit Þ benefited, visit Þ visiting
Don't forget that with two syllable words ending in 'Y', don't drop the 'Y' when adding 'ING'.
study Þ studying6. There are some differences between British and American spelling.
Words which end in 'ER' in American English, end in 'RE' in British spelling
center (USA) Þ centre (UK)
theater (USA) Þ theatre (UK)
centimeter (USA) Þ centimetre (UK)
Final 'L' is usually doubled in British English
traveling (USA) Þ travelling (UK)
quarreled (USA) Þ quarrelled (UK)
canceling (USA) Þ cancelling (UK)
Some verbs ending in 'Z' in American English are sometimes spelt with 'S' in British English
realize (USA) Þ realise (UK)
organize (USA) Þ organise (UK)
Some nouns are spelt differently in British and American English
traveler's checks (USA) Þ traveller's cheques (UK)
For more information on the differences between British and American spelling and grammar, see Viv's worksheet on USA v UK English.
COMMONLY MISSPELLED WORDS
Here is a list some of the most commonly misspelled words in English in alphabetical order. These are the correct spellings. Reading over the list probably won't improve your spelling much, but choosing a few words which you find difficult, and writing them out correctly a few times may help you.
a lot, absence, abundance, accessible, accidentally, acclaim, accommodate, accomplish, accumulate, achievement, acquaintance, across, address, advertisement, aggravate, alright, anoint, annual, apparent, appearance, argument, atheist, athletics, attendance, auxiliary, balloon, barbiturate, bargain, basically, battalion, beggar, beginning, believe, benefitted (UK), benefited (US), biscuit, bouillon, boundary, Britain, broccoli, business, calendar, camouflage, cantaloupe, cemetery, chagrined, challenge, characteristic, changing, chief, cigarette, climbed, collectible, colonel, colossal, column, coming, committee, commitment, comparative, competent, completely, concede, conceive, condemn, condescend, conscientious, consciousness, consensus, consistent, continuous, controlled, coolly, corollary, convenient, correlate, correspondence, counselled (UK), counseled (US), councellor (UK), counselor (US), courteous, courtesy, criticize, deceive, defendant, deferred, definitely, dependent, descend, description, desiccate, desirable, despair, desperate, develop, development, difference, dilemma, dining, disappearance, disappoint, disastrous, discipline, disease, despair, dispensable, dissatisfied, dissipate, dominant, drunkenness, easily, ecstasy, efficiency, eighth, eligible, embarrassment, enemy, entirely, equipped, equivalent, escape, especially, exaggerate, exceed, excellence, excellent, exhaust, existence, expense, experience, experiment, explanation, extremely, exuberance, fallacious, fallacy, familiar, fascinate, February, fictitious, finally, financially, forcibly, foreign, forfeit, formerly, forty, fourth, fulfill, fundamentally, gauge, generally, genius, government, governor, grievous, guarantee, guerilla, guidance, handkerchief, happily, harass, height, heinous, hemorrhage, heroes, hesitancy, hindrance, hoarse, hoping, humorous, hypocrisy, hypocrite, ideally, idiosyncrasy, ignorance, imaginary, immediately, implement, inadvertent, incidentally, incredible, independence, independent, indicted, indispensable, inevitable, influential, information, inoculate, insistent, insurance, intelligence, intercede, interference, interpret, interrupt, introduce, irrelevant, irresistible, irritable, island, jealousy, jewelry, judgment, judicial, knowledge, laboratory, legitimate, leisure, length, lenient, liaison, license, lieutenant, lightning, likelihood, likely, liquefy, loneliness, losing, lovely, luxury, magazine, maintain, maintenance, manageable, maneuver, marriage, mathematics, medicine, memento, millennium, millionaire, miniature, minuscule, minutes, mischievous, missile, misspelled, mortgage, mosquito, mosquitoes, murmur, muscle, mysterious, narrative, naturally, necessary, necessity, either, neighbor, neutron, ninety, ninth, noticeable, nowadays, nuisance, obedience, obstacle, occasion, occasionally, occurred, occurrence, official, omission, omit, omitted, opinion, opponent, opportunity, oppression, optimism, ordinarily, origin, outrageous, overrun, panicky, parallel, parliament, particularly, peaceable, peculiar, penetrate, perceive, performance, permanent, permissible, permitted, perseverance, persistence, physical, physician, picnicking, piece, pilgrimage, pitiful, planning, pleasant, portray, possess, possessive, potato, potatoes, practically, prairie, preference, preferred, prejudice, preparation, prescription, prevalent, primitive, privilege, probably, procedure, proceed, professor, prominent, pronounce, pronunciation, propaganda, psychology, publicly, pursue, quandary, quarantine, questionnaire, quizzes, realistically, realize, really, recede, receipt, receive, recognize, recommend, reference, referred, relevant, relieving, religious, remembrance, reminiscence, repetition, representative, resemblance, reservoir, resistance, restaurant, rheumatism, rhythm, rhythmical, roommate, sacrifice, sacrilegious, safety, salary, sapphire, satellite, scenery, schedule, secede, secretary, seize, separate, sergeant, several, shining, similar, simile, simply, sincerely, skeptic, skeptical, skiing, soliloquy, sophomore, souvenir, specifically, specimen, sponsor, spontaneous, statistics, stopped, strategy, strength, strenuous, stubbornness, subordinate, subpoena, subtle, succeed, success, succession, sufficient, supersede, suppress, surprise, surround, susceptible, suspicious, syllable, symmetrical, synonymous, tangible, technical, technique, temperature, tendency, themselves, theories, therefore, thorough, though, through, till, tomorrow, tournament, tourniquet, tragedy, transferred, truly, twelfth, tyranny, unanimous, undoubtedly, unnecessary, until, usage, usually, vacuum, valuable, vengeance, vigilant, village, villain, violence, visible, warrant, Wednesday, weird, wherever, wholly, yacht, yield, zoology
Are there any words in this list you often use but spell them incorrectly? Try to learn the correct spelling. The tips on Viv's Learning Vocabulary worksheet may help you. You can also use Viv's Bon Database to organise and test words you can't remember how to spell.
Test your spelling, then check the answers in the list above
On-line spelling tests
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