Spelling rules can take the mystery out of spelling by demonstrating patterns among seemingly unrelated words. Studying these rules will help you see connections between unfamiliar words as well as words you already know.
Before we begin, it's worth noting that, due to the nature of English, there's no such thing as a hard and fast spelling rule. Many rules come with exceptions because English borrows from many languages. It's constantly changing and adopting new words, too. Still, let's lay a foundation with the rules listed below. They might not work every time, but they'll work often enough to help you succeed.
The letter Q is almost always followed by U, as in words like "queen," "earthquake," and "equity." When used in this way, the U is not considered to be a vowel. There are exceptions to this rule, but they're few and far between.
The letter C can make either the "K" sound or the "S" sound. You'll hear it pronounced as a "K" before most letters, including words like "cat," "cloud," and "cotton." You'll hear it pronounced as an "S" before the vowels E, I, and Y, as in words like "century," "citation," and "cyclical."
In most words with a short vowel sound, only one vowel is needed. Examples of this rule include "at," "it," "hot," "red" and "up." For more on this, check out this List of Short Vowel Words.
If these letters come at the end of a one-syllable word, you must double them. Examples include the double F in "stiff," the double L in "stall," and the double S in "class." Here's another list for you. Have a look at these Words With Double Letters.
When adding a suffix, you usually need to drop the final E, especially in American English. Many words end with a silent final E, and when adding an ending that starts with a vowel, you should always remove it.
In this way, "come" becomes "coming," "hope" becomes "hoping," "race" becomes "racing" and "squeeze" becomes "squeezing."
The word "all," when written alone, has two L's. When used as a prefix, however, only one L is written. Examples of this rule include "almost," "also," "altogether" and "always."
Words ending in a vowel and Y can add the suffix -ed or -ing without making any other changes. "Jockeying," "journeying," and "toying" are all examples of this rule.
This sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it? The apostrophe in "can't" signifies the missing letters "N" and "O" in "cannot." But, think of other words we use; ol' is a good example. Have you ever seen someone write it as 'ol? If so, that apostrophe was placed in error, because the apostrophe stands in place of the D that is missing from "old." An apostrophe should only hang wherever the letters are missing. For more on this, read through Using Contractions Correctly.
Proper nouns are specific people, places, or things. They're not buildings, but the Empire State Building. They're not states, but the state of Georgia. Proper nouns are specific labels, and whenever someone's name or the official title is being used, these nouns must be capitalized.
We thought we'd end on a clear note. Even though this rule is mostly true, similar to "Q" being followed by "U," there are a few exceptions. Here are 25 words ending in V.
It's tough to encompass all the twists and turns of the English language into one concise list. "Rules" is a tough word to use in this context, because grammar rules tend to shift, depending on the situation. Still, a basic understanding will help you in times of uncertainty.
Here at YourDictionary, we've put together lists of 100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English and 150 More Often Misspelled Words in English. Within these lists, you'll uncover even more rules that'll help you commit these tricky words to memory. Today, know that you can rise above our reliance on autocorrect today!