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Posted on Sep 13, 2016

English Spelling Rules

English Spelling Rules

Some of these rules may help you to improve your English spelling – it´s quite tricky to master!:

Of course there are exceptions, but learning some basic rules will help remove spelling mistakes –  essential for those exam essays


  1.”i” before “e” except after “c” or when sounding like /ay/ as in neighbour      

       and weigh                                            

      For example:   believe, relief, achieve, but receive
      Exceptions include seizure, weird, leisure


2. CVC doubling rule (consonant, vowel, consonant)


This rule says that if you are adding a suffix to a word and the last 3 letters of that word are a C-V-C pattern, then you double the last letter of the word.

For example:   shop – shopping

hot – hotter

swim – swimming

forgot – forgotten

worship – worshipped


BUT, we can only use this if the first letter of the suffix is vowel:

forget – forgetful  (no doubling) as “ful” begins with a consonant


Also, if the word has more than 1 syllable where the stress does NOT lie on the last syllable, DON´T double the last letter:

benefit – benefited

offer – offered

visit – visited

budget – budgeting


DO NOT DOUBLE the last letter if it is a”W” “X” OR “Y”

flow – flowing

tax – taxed

play – played



   3.   Drop the “e” rule

When adding suffixes that begin with a vowel (-able, -ible, -ous etc.) drop the final silent “e”

For example:

response – responsible

care – caring

adore – adorable

argue – arguing


BUT, when the word ends in “ce” or “ge” don´t drop the “e” before “-able” or “-ous”

for example:

notice – noticeable

advantage – advantageous

change – changeable

courage – courageous



Keep the “e” rules!!!!!

Keep the “e” before “-ment”

achieve – achievement

excite – excitement

involve – involvement


Keep the “e” before “-ful”

peace – peaceful

hope – hopeful

use – useful


Keep the “e” before “-ly”

complete – completely

approximate – approximately

rare – rarely


Keep the “e” with words ending in “-ee”

agree – agreeable

see – seeing

guarantee – guaranteeing


       4.   “y” to “i” rule

a) Change “y” to “i” before vowel suffixes:

rely – reliable

happy – happier

comply – compliant

BUT, avoid a double “i” and retain “y” if the suffix is “-ing” or “-ish”

carry – carrying

baby – babyish


b) Change “y” to “i” before consonant suffixes:

likely – likelihood

ordinary – ordinarily

plenty – plentiful

lonely – lonliness


c) DON´T change if the letter before “y” is a vowel:

key – keys

boy – boys

     party – parties (NOT partys, because the letter before “y” is a consonant)

enjoy – enjoyment

say – saying

employ – employable


  d) Change “ie” to “y”

                                  lie – lying

                                  die – dying