Do you guess and hope you’ve got it right? What happens if it’s wrong? What are the consequences of getting it wrong and not realising it?
Do you look it up in a dictionary or online? That’s not very helpful if you don’t know how to spell it in the first place.
You could always memorise a long list of commonly misspelled words. Not very helpful either!
You could always use your Auto-Correct function and then rely on your spellchecker to make sure you’ve got it right. That can be dangerous too because how do you know that the spellchecker is telling the truth if you don’t know the correct spelling? You may have typed a word that is actually spelt correctly but it may not be the word you had originally intended, and the spellchecker probably won’t pick it up.
Aaargh!!! Why is English so complicated?
Here are some simple tips on how to get over this problem:
Try to memorise some common spelling rules:
- The one we can all probably remember from our school days is:
‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ – or when it sounds like ‘a’ in words like ‘neighbour’ or ‘weigh’.
There are always exceptions to this rule though, such as:
efficient; weird, height, neither, foreign or caffeine (maybe that’ll help in other ways!)
- Drop the final ‘e’ before a suffix beginning with a vowel, e.g.
ride + ing = riding
compare + ison = comparison
rhyme + ing = rhyming
arrange + ment = arrangement.
Again, there are always exceptions: noticeable and truly.
- Change the final ‘y’ to ‘i’ before a suffix (unless the suffix already begins with an ‘i’), e.g.
defy + ance = defiance
party + es = parties
pity + ful = pitiful
try + ing = trying.
Surprise, surprise, there are some exceptions: journey + ing = journeying and memory + ise = memorise
- Double the final consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel when BOTH
a) a single vowel precedes the consonant AND
b) the consonant ends a stressed syllable or a one-syllable word, are true, e.g.
occur + ence = occurrence
benefit + ed = benefitted
stop + ing = stopping
stoop + ing = stooping – a) above is not true
These are relatively straightforward rules to follow, however, if they’re not for you, try these:
- Read, read and read some more
Reading and writing are strongly related. The more you read the more you’ll recognise and remember new words and how to spell them.
- Use visual memory techniques
This isn’t just for kids. It works just as well for adults especially if you have an issue with spelling. They help you to form mental pictures of words by making it easier to recall the correct spelling. You store the image of a word in your brain and then call upon it when you need to use it.
- Play word games, such as Boggle or Scrabble.
- Do crosswords or other word related puzzles, such as codewords or word searches. It’s amazing how many different words you come across and the more you use them the more you will remember.