Some General Rules for Spelling
1. "ie" or "ei"
Rule: "i" before "e" except after "c".
Examples: Believe, receive, receipt, ceiling, relief, niece, shield
Exceptions: Neither, leisure, foreigner, counterfeit, stein, Seize, weird, height
Rule: If the sound is "ay" the spelling is "ei"
Examples: eight, deity, neigh, neighbour, freight, weigh
Rule: The spelling of a word does not change when you add a prefix to it even when the first letter of the word and the last letter of the prefix are the same.
mis + step = misstep
pre + eminent = preeminent
3. Doubling final consonants
Rule: A word of more than one syllable ending in a single consonant after a single vowel, doubles the consonant before adding -ed or -ing
Examples: occur/occurring, begin/beginning, compel/compelled, prefer/preferring, control/controlling
Remember - Words of more than one syllable have their consonants doubled only when the final syllable is stressed (say the word out loud).
begin - beginn ing BUT open - opening
defer - deferr ing BUT offer - offering
Rule: If the preceding vowel is unstressed or spelled with two vowels, do not double the consonant.
Examples: enter/entering, visit/visiting, develop/developing, dread/dreading, appeal/appealing, shout/shouting
Exceptions: worship/worshipping, kidnap/kidnapping, handicap/handicapped
Rule: Final consonants are not doubled before suffixes beginning with a consonant.
Examples: enrol/enrolment, commit/ commitment, fulfil/fulfilment, prefer/preferment, quarrel/quarrelsome, rival/rivalry
Rule: Words of more than one syllable ending in "l" double the "l" even if the stress does not fall on the last syllable.
Examples: cancel/cancelled, travel/travelling, jewel/jeweller
Exceptions: appeal/appealing, parallel/paralleled
4. The final "e"
Rule: Keep the final "e" of the base word before adding a suffix beginning
with a consonant (-ment, -ness, -less, -ful).
Examples: commencement, pronouncement, amusement
Exceptions: argument, awful, truly, wholly
Rule: If the suffix or verb ending begins with a vowel, drop the final "e".
Examples: commencing, pronouncing, amusing
Rule: To retain the soft sound of the "c" (s sound) and of the "g" (j sound) in words ending in "ce" and "ge", we keep the final "e".
Examples: peace/peaceable, replace/replaceable, arrange/arrangement, advantage/advantageous, notice/noticeable, change/changeable
Rule: Words ending in two vowels (a vowel + final "e") retain the final
vowel "e" before adding a suffix.
Examples: see/seeable, shoe/shoeing, canoe/canoeing
5. "c" or "g" endings
Rule: For words ending in "c", insert "k" before adding -ing or -y.
Examples: picnic/picnicking, traffic/trafficking, panic/panicky
6. "y" endings
Rule: If the word has a consonant before the "y", and when adding -ed or
-er after "y", change the "y" to "i".
Examples: mercy/ merciless, fly/flier, carry/carried
Rule: If the word has a vowel before the "y", or when adding -ing keep the "y".
Examples: employ/employed, annoy/annoying, carry/carrying
7. "o" endings
Rule: If a Noun ends in "o", add -es.
Examples: potato/potatoes, echo/echoes, hero/heroes
Exceptions: studio/studios, piano/pianos, kangaroo/kangaroos, zoo/zoos
8. The "shen" sound
The sounds at the end of musician and condition sound alike but....
• cian always means a person, where...
• tion or sion are never used for people.
How do you tell whether to use tion or sion?
Rule: If the root word ends in "t", use -tion.
Rule: If the root word ends in "s" or "d", use sion.
Examples: extend/extension, supress/supression
Rule: If the sound of the last syllable is the "heavy" sound of /zhun/ rather than the light sound, /shun/, use "s".
Examples: confusion, vision, adhesion
Exceptions: The ending, -mit becomes -mission: permit/permission, omit/omission, submit/submission, commit/commission
Read more spelling rules here: http://www.phonicslessons.co.uk/englishspellingrules.html