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Spelling | EnglishClub

Old English was a Germanic language and most of our basic vocabulary comes from here — words like head, house, cold , and eat. Until about years ago, the spellings of Germanic words matched the sounds: so sight like German Sicht would have been pronounced pretty much as it looks, and in words like kneel, wrist and sword , you would hear the "k" or "w".

But as the spellings became fixed partly due to the advent of print , the sounds continued to evolve. Consequently, many words of Germanic origin are no longer pronounced the way they are spelled.

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Words from these classical European languages first came into English with the Norman conquest, and there was another big influx at the time of the Renaissance. So while Spanish has no word for spelling, English has two: spelling a Germanic word , and orthography from Greek. English has always borrowed words from other languages, such as bungalow from Hindi , ketchup Chinese and graffiti Italian.

Thanks to language technology, it's much easier to identify the words people have most trouble with. When you look up a word in an online dictionary like Macmillan Dictionary, the software keeps a record — so if you put "harrass" in the search box, the dictionary not only shows you the correct spelling harass but also logs the incorrect one.

This means that lists such as this list of common misspellings are based on hard evidence of words that users have actually searched for but spelled wrongly. These are less scary than they look if you break them down into their component parts. The well-known antidisestablishmentarianism is just the word establish surrounded by a number of equally familiar English prefixes and suffixes. Most longer words work like this, and many are scientific or medical terms made up of Greek roots — words like pneumoradiography or polyneuropathy.

If you learn the most common Latin and Greek roots there are plenty of lists on the Web such as this one , you'll have a head start. Most spelling differences between these two varieties are regular and well-known — things like humour British and humor American , meagre and meager , traveller and traveler.

Some supposedly "American" spellings are now common in British English too — notably the -ize words emphasize, organization and words like medieval and encyclopedia mediaeval and encyclopaedia are now rarely seen. A couple of special cases are install and program : in computer-speak, British English favours these originally American spellings. The familiar rule is "i before e, except after c": so it's believe but deceive , and piece but ceiling.

In other cases, an "e" quite often comes before an "i": beige, height, foreign. Some words end in -able and others in -ible , some end in -ent and others in -ant. How do you know which is which? The sound of the words won't usually help: for example, innocence and ignorance both end with the same sound but they are spelled differently.

There are no straightforward answers but here are a few guidelines for these and similar cases where there is a choice of endings:. When a word is marked as incorrect by the spell-check, you can right-click on a PC on the word to see a list of alternatives. Clicking on the correct spelling will update your work accordingly. All word processors, and many other computer applications, also contain full spell-checking facilities. How to access these facilities will vary depending on which package you are using.


Practice or Practise–Which Spelling Is Right?

Check 'Help' if you are unsure how to access a spell check. Similarly, grammar errors are highlighted with a green wavy underline. Right-clicking on the word or phrase will describe the grammar rule that you may be breaking and suggest an alternative wording. Caution should be used with grammar checking, however, because it is not always accurate. There is no substitute for careful proofreading, but grammar checking has its place. Sometimes you can quickly find the correct spelling of a word by typing it into Google. The search engine will often automatically correct the word for you.

There are ways in which you can improve your spelling. These ideas should help to get you started.

English spelling is broken. Let's fix it!

Either pin your list up by your desk, or keep it as a document on your computer, where you can easily refer to it. You can then check it when you need to do so, and add to it when you identify new words that you have misspelled.


There are more common spelling errors in our page on Common Mistakes in Writing. There are a number of common mnemonics memory supports in use for difficult words. This allows you to input the text that you type, and the corrected text, so that you can automatically set it to change say neccesary to necessary , as you type.

Whenever you see a word that you do not know, or where you are not sure of the spelling, get into the habit of checking it in a dictionary. That will help you to fix both the meaning and the spelling in your head.

English Spelling Rules - Learn Spelling Rules and Common Mistakes

You are also likely to spot one or two other interesting words while you are there and expand your vocabulary at the same time! If you get into the habit of using a dictionary regularly, you will find that your spelling will improve naturally.

English spelling is broken ...

There is, unfortunately, no short cut to good spelling. Inconsistent hyphenation, punctuation, printing and spelling errors have been corrected silently. Professor Lounsbury: May I ask how the written answers showed up from the point of view of spelling and grammar? Obvious errors in spelling and punctuation have been corrected.

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Are your spelling lessons, or your lessons on the multiplication table, sown in your hearts? In addition to the idiom beginning with spell. Grey vs. Gray Grey and gray are both accepted in the English language. They refer to a color of a neutral tone between black and white, and can also be used metaphorically to convey gloom and dullness.