_American_ English Spelling by lonyoo


									(American) English Spelling
My spelling Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles,
and the letters get in the wrong places.
Winnie-the-Pooh A. A. Milne, British, 1926

                           key rules | bibliography | common misspellings

English spelling rules are complex, with many exceptions.
If you find spelling to be a particular challenge, here is one strategy to follow:

As a foundation:

                                Practice your spelling
                                Keep a "spelling notebook" and list words you commonly
                                 misspell or have trouble with
                                Keep a list of commonly misspelled English words, or
                                 words that may be spelled correctly, but misused (e.g.
                                 who's * whose)
                                Keep a list of rules for spelling
                                 This book can also help you build your vocabulary

As regards important documents you send, or turn in to others:

                                Spell check the document if it is electronic
                                 Note: Some e-mail software (i.e. MS Outlook) can be set
                                 to automatically check spelling and grammar before you
                                 can send
                                Re-read the printed document carefully for errors:
                                 Pay attention to words you commonly misspell or that are
                                 spelled correctly but misused
                                 Note these words in your spelling notebook
                                Have someone you trust and respect review the
                                 This is often difficult for us since often we get comments
                                 regarding text as well as spelling. But that is a plus, since
                                 we don't have to change the text, but rather appreciate the
                                 suggestions and go on...
                                If you have a Center for Writing Assistance,
                                 take advantage of it

Using Dictionaries: a dictionary contains more than the spelling of a word!
It also contains the spelling of its derivatives: plural forms and participles. On line
resources include

Dictionary, thesaurus, and access to foreign dictionaries
A straightforward presentation of definitions and synonyms from a variety of resources

Merriam-Webster OnLine
Dictionary, thesaurus, look up feature for bad spellers, word of the day, word games, and
access to vocabulary in 230 languages

Since English is so exceptional in its spellings, any dictionary assists you in finding
exceptions to the rules of spelling. Alternative spellings, especially British vs. American,
should also be noted.

Spell checkers in word processing:

                             Spell check each and every word-processed document as a
                             Proof-read each document after spell-checking!
                              A spell checker will only find words incorrectly spelled. It
                              will not find words correctly spelled but misused.

Common challenges:

from and form: a common typing inversion;
of, or: another case of mistaken keyboarding;
to, too, two; there, their; whether, weather: common confusion of usage;
foreign, physical: When is an "f" really a "ph"?

Remembering a "spelling":

                             Check a dictionary
                              for the correct pronunciation of the word. This will help
                              you remember how to spell the word
                             Check for the meaning and history of the word.
                              This provides additional information
                             Practice spelling the word to yourself before you close
                              the dictionary. Write it down or visualize it in your mind's
                              Check the spelling in the dictionary again to ensure that
                              you have learned to spell the word correctly;
                             Learn basic spelling rules (see below)

Adapted from "Steps to Becoming a Good Speller" in Basic English Revisited by Patrick
Sebranek and Verne Meyer.
A Few Key Spelling Rules

                   Write "i" before "e" except after "c," or when sounding like "a" as
                    in "neighbor" and "weigh." When the "ie/ei" combination is not
                    pronounced "ee," it is usually spelled "ei."

                    Examples: fiery, friend, mischief, view,
                           ie believe
                    Examples: reign, foreign, weigh,
                           ei neighbor, weird, receive

                   If a word ends with a silent "e," drop the "e" before adding a suffix
                    which begins with a vowel:

                    state--stating; like--liking

                   Do not drop the "e" when the suffix begins with a consonant:

                    state--statement; like--likeness; use--useful

                   When "y" is the last letter in a word and the "y" is preceded by a
                    consonant, change the "y" to "i" before adding any suffix except
                    those beginning with "i":

                    beauty--beautiful; fry--fries; hurry--hurried;

                   When forming the plural of a word which ends with a "y" that is
                    preceded by a vowel, add "s":

                    toy--toys; play--plays; monkey--monkeys

                   When a one-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by one
                    vowel, double the final consonant before adding a suffix which
                    begins with a vowel. This is also called the 1-1-1 rule: one
                    syllable, one consonant, one vowel!

                    bat--batted, --batting, --batter;
                    prod--prodded, --prodding

                   When a multi-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by one
                    vowel, and the final syllable is accented, the same rule holds true:
                         double the final consonant. This is a variation of the preceding

                          control--controlled; prefer--preferred;

                        When the final syllable does not have the end-accent,
                         it is preferred, and in some cases required, that you NOT double
                         the consonant.
                         (The preference characterizes American English; British English
                         seems to prefer doubling, though it often allows its omission. But
                         a number of words disallow doubling in both American and British

                focus--focused; pardon--pardoned;
                worship--worshiped; trumpet--trumpeted; gallop--galloped

                        Choosing between <-el> <-le> <-ile> <-al> <-il>
                         Options must be memorized, and no rules apply:

<-le> is more frequent than <-el>:
axle, battle, bottle, tackle, tickle, single, double, triple...
angel, bushel, parcel...

<-al> is common for adjectives and nouns
biblical, burial, genial, habitual...

<-il> is rare

See also:

                        A vocabulary exercise (Study Guides)
                        Open Directory Project resources in spelling
                        Spelling rules and exercises, Writing Center, University of Ottowa
                         (Canadian spelling)
                        Burden, Peter, WWlib - Notes on American English, University of
                         Worlverhapton November 17, 2000
                        Jones, Susan, Spelling differences between American and British English, ,
                         Georgia State University, November 17, 2000
                        100 words that all high school graduates — and their parents — should
                         by Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries
                        Sebranek, Patrick.; Meyer, Verne. Basic English revisited : a student handbook.
                         [Lexington, Mass.] : Write Source, 1994
                        Thanks also to spelling rules of I.Y. Hashimoto Whitman College
Words commonly misspelled, or spelled correctly but not used properly:
Note: these are American spellings!

A: absence, accidentally, accommodation, according, ache, again, against, aisle, allegory, almost, always,
although, ancient, airplane, aging, agonize, apologize

B: beautiful, beginning, believe, body, build, business

C: calendar, consensus, cemetery, coolly, confidence, criticize,

D: defendant, disappoint, drunkenness, despair, distance, disguise, difference, describe, decided, double,
divide, dilemma, disappear,

E: easiness, exceed,

F: famous, finish, forest, familiar, from, form,

G: guest, guarantee, guilty, government, guardian, gauge,

H: halve, happened, here, hear, height, high,

I: illegible, indispensable, information, interest, imagine, immediately, independent, instead, irresistible,

J: judgment, juice,

K: knowledge,

L: liquefy, a lot, language, listen, league,

M: maintenance, month, mountain, machine, measure, meant, merchandise, memorandum,

N: necessary, neither, nighttime

O: occurrence, occasion,

P: pastime, paragraph, period, phrase, possible, preferred, pressure, prominent, purchase, purpose,

Q: quite, quiet, queue, questionnaire

R: recommend, receive, region, remember, receipt, reference

S: separate, soldier, sugar, sure, sergeant, says, several, similar, sincerely

T: tyranny, thousands, temperature, thorough, tomorrow, theater, to, two, too, there, their, they're, truly,
U: unfortunately, until, usually, unanimous, unforgettable

V: vacuum, variety, various, vary, vehicle, vicious, village, villain,

W: wear, where, we're, weird


Y: yacht, yield

Z: zucchini

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