English spelling is a bit of a mess. To quote James Nicoll, the English language doesn’t “just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” That gives the language a long list of spelling conventions, and an equally long list of exceptions.
How to improve? We at YourDictionary have you covered We’ve gathered a variety of solutions to the beautiful oddness that is English spelling. Our techniques are built, not just on correcting errors, but on teaching habits that will help you learn.
Itself not exactly a walk in the park to spell, a mnemonic is a trick used to memorize a certain bit of information. A classic example is “I before E except after C.” Check out our page for a full list of linguistic mnemonics.
Rules and Exceptions
English has rules. English is also a vibrant, growing language, which is another way to say it’s a structural mess and no rule applies 100 percent of the time. Happily, we collect both rules and exceptions here at YourDictionary.
Take a look at our master list of spelling rules, suffix spelling rules (many a fine email or research paper has been lost to an extra “L” in “-ful” or “-ly”), and IE and EI words to see both rules and exceptions at work.
Learn Common Mistakes
Some words are just plain hard to spell. “Refrigerator” really sounds like it should have a D in it somewhere. “Fridge” has a D! Why “restaurateur” and not “restauranteur,” even though they own a restaurant? “Mnemonic” has an M for no earthly reason. English is a crazy quilt of linguistic influences and sometimes the alphabet just struggles to keep up.
Fear not! We feel your pain. We’ve collected commonly misspelled words, commonly misspelled sight words (that is, words you can’t spell just by hearing them), and words with unusual spellings for your learning convenience.
Memorize Sight Words
English has a sizable quantity of sight words, words that can’t be sounded out and spelled correctly. To learn them, you need to see them and commit them to memory.
That’s where we come in. Our Dolch sight words for elementary grades are by no means only for elementary grades. People learning English, and indeed people who just want a refresher on our curious tongue, are invited to peruse our list of sight words.
Read More Books
Reading is the best possible way of learning English orthography (that’s “spelling” in Fancy English.) Getting absorbed into a story or exploring a topic that fascinates you will give you a deep, personal sense of how words work. You may even read a few really useful grammar books along the way. Reading also builds intuition. The more you read, the more words will start to "feel" right or wrong. With practice - that is, more reading - you’ll develop a reliable sense of when you should probably check the spelling of a word in the dictionary. Reading aloud is also the best possible way of learning the phonetic nature of English and avoiding mispronunciation.
Improve Spelling Skills Every Day
Trying to improve spelling skills is a challenging task. But, with these strategies in hand and some patience, victory is on the horizon. Continue working on your spelling frequently, read as much as you can, and you’ll soon find yourself reaching for the dictionary far less often.