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Absolutely Ridiculous English Spelling
Lesson 6. Some Rules to Spell By
When to double the final consonant: When a one-syllable word has a single vowel followed by a single consonant at the end, the final consonant is doubled before a suffix beginning with a vowel. Confusing? Let's look at some examples.
This leads to words like runner, running, hitter, hitting, spinner, spinning
Do you see why some of the words were eliminated? push and jump have 2 consonants at the end, not one; shoot and eat have two vowels in front of the final consonant. Those words do not follow this rule, so you will not double their final consonants when you add a suffix.
|WORD||+ ER or +ED||+ING|
The same rule works with a large group of words having more than one syllable IF those words end in a single vowel followed by a single consonant AND if the final syllable is the accented, or stressed, syllable. Examples: commit, equip, confer, excel. Words that do NOT fit this rule are: happen, benefit, retreat - the first two do not fit because they are not stressed on the last syllable, and retreat does not because there are TWO vowels before the final consonant.
|WORD||+ ER or +ED||+ ING|
Special Exceptions: picnic, panic, traffic all add K before the suffix to keep the Hard K sound in front of the vowel which begins the suffix; picnicked, panicked, trafficker, trafficking.
Adding suffixes to words that end with 'e':
Exceptions: When a word ends with ce or ge the final e usually remains in order to maintain the soft c or g sound in the word: courage + ous = courageous, notice + able = noticeable. This rule is explained on the More Rules page.
Adding suffixes to words ending with Y:
|bury||es, ed||buries. buried|
Forming plurals of Nouns: There are several different rules, each with its list of words that follow the rules and another list of words that do not. We will just give a brief summary and a few examples of the major rules.
|Words ending in Consonant + O add ES||buffaloes, vetoes, potatoes (exceptions: silos, egos, dynamos, and several musical terms such as solos, altos, pianos)|
|Some words change final F to V and add ES||wolf = wolves, knife = knives, life = lives, loaf = loaves, leaf = leaves, calf = calves, sheaf = sheaves, thief = thieves, elf = elves, wife = wives, shelf = shelves|
|Compound nouns add S or ES to the main word||mothers-in-law, attorneys-at-law, courts-martial|
|Non-English words use the plural form from the original language.||fungus = fungi, medium = media, datum = data, analysis = analyses, criterion = criteria, beau = beaux|
When the letter S sounds like Z: There are many situations in English in which the letter S will be pronounced as if it were a Z. This usually happens at the end of a word in plurals or Third Person Singular forms of verbs. The following chart will show you the S's that are pronounced as Z's, shown in RED.
There are hundreds of other examples of these Z words. Sometimes there is a pattern:
Words that end in -s, -ss, -ch, -sh, -x, -z that need to add -ES to form the plural or the 3rd person singular form - the final S will sound like Z.
|vase - vases||fuss - fusses||touch - touches||wish - wishes||box - boxes||fizz - fizzes|
For words that end with the sounds of -b, -d, -g, -l, -ll, -m, -n, -r, -v , when S is added to form the plural or the 3rd-person singular, that final S will sound like Z. Here are some examples:
|cab - cabs||dad - dads||bag - bags||feel - feels||flame - flames||star - stars|
|club - clubs||lid - lids||frog - frogs||pull - pulls||noun - nouns||glove - gloves|
If you ever want to know how to pronounce the final S, check a decent English dictionary for the key to pronunciation.
This will get you started learning to spell English correctly. As we have noted a few times, the final solution is to READ, STUDY, PRACTICE, WRITE, MEMORIZE. If you are taking the time to read these pages, then you are motivated enough to learn on your own how to spell these strange English words. Our suggestion is:
We guarantee that if you follow this procedure, you will not only learn to spell the words, you will make these words a permanent part of your English vocabulary. Good Luck!
To learn some more spelling rules, go to the Next Page.
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