How to Spell a Word

Updated August 22, 2018
how to spell a word
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If you're anything like the billions of other people in the world, there've been times when you were uncertain about how to spell a word. Indeed, spelling can difficult. There are so many rules and, worst of all, the rules aren't always applied in the same way.

So, how can you become a master speller without a concrete set of guidelines to abide by? Well, there are a couple hints you can keep in mind. With these tips and tricks up your sleeve, you'll advance to even higher levels of spelling proficiency.

Spelling Hints

Everyone has different words they struggle to spell. Therefore, your trouble words may not be the same as your best friend's trouble words. And, unfortunately, every rule doesn't always apply perfectly to every situation.

Even with the list of hints you're about to consider, there's really only one golden rule to abide by: read and write constantly. With that in mine, here are a few hints to help you through tough spelling situations:

  • Remember the old adage: "I before E except after C."
  • Sound out words. This method won't always work. However, it'll at least put you on a pathway to the proper spelling.
  • If two vowels are next to each other in a word, the second vowel is silent. For example, in the word coat, you only hear the "O" pronounced.
  • The spelling of a word remains the same if you add a prefix to it.
  • Be alert for homonyms and homophones.
  • Use mnemonic devices to help you remember the proper spelling. Mnemonic devices are tricks that'll help you remember how to spell certain words. For example, take dessert versus desert. Remember that the letter "S" is used twice in dessert, because you always want seconds of dessert.
  • See if you can find smaller words in the larger word. Spell those smaller words, and you can more easily deduce the correct spelling.
  • Edit someone else's work. We're accustomed to not noticing mistakes in our own work because we know what the meaning is. Editing helps us to see common errors because we need to understand the writing in order to know the meaning.

Commonly Misspelled Words

Reviewing a list of commonly misspelled words isn't going to teach you how to spell everything. However, it'll acquaint you with some words that tend to be problematic for a lot of people. Please note that the spelling in the list below is correct; any other spellings aren't considered to be correct by American English standards.

The Keys to the Spelling Kingdom Are in Your Hand

There's no denying one simple fact: the best way to improve your spelling is to practice. And, by practice, we mean to read and write voraciously.

When you come upon a word you're not familiar with, look it up. That simple act is likely to make it stick somewhere in your memory bank.

If you're feeling confident in your spelling skills, then have some fun with Words With Multiple Valid Spellings. What's the English language without a couple compelling idiosyncrasies?