How to Learn the Basic Spelling Rules Of English

English can be difficult because few words are spelled phonetically, and every rule has exceptions. But you can become a champ in no time by memorizing a few basic rules.


Up next in English Grammar Basics (12 videos)

Polish your English language skills with the English grammar basics in this Howcast video series. You'll learn how to avoid 10 common grammar mistakes; how to know when to use subject or object pronouns; how to use an apostrophe, a semicolon, and a comma; how to avoid run-on sentences; how to know when to capitalize a word; and much more.

You Will Need

  • Memorization skills


  1. Step 1

    Remember "I" before "E"

    Remember that the letter "I" comes before "E" except after "C" or when sounding like "A" as in neighbor or weigh.

  2. Exceptions include either, neither, weird, and seize.

  3. Step 2

    Learn when to double

    Double the final consonant before adding an ending if the root word is: One syllable long and ends in a consonant preceded by a vowel; Or stressed on the last syllable

  4. Step 3

    Know when not to double

    Don't double the final consonant if the root word is: One syllable long and ends in either two vowels followed by a consonant, or two consonants. Stress is on the first syllable.

  5. Step 4

    Know when to drop the "e"

    Drop the "e" at the end of a word if you're adding an ending that begins with a vowel. If the ending starts with a consonant, keep the "e."

  6. If a root word ends in "-ce" or "-ge" keep the "e" when you add "-able" or "-ous."

  7. Step 5

    Know "y"

    If you're adding an ending to a word that ends in "y", only change the "y" to "i" if a consonant comes before the "y."

  8. Step 6

    Obey pluralization rules

    To make words plural, add "-es" to words ending in "ss" "sh" "ch" and "x." Otherwise, just add an "s." If the word ends in a consonant and then a "y", change the "y" to "I" before adding an "es."

  9. Most nouns ending in "f" or "fe" add "ves." But as with all English rules, there are many exceptions.

  10. Step 7

    Know when to pick "-ick"

    Spell a word that ends with the sound "-ick" with an i-c-k if it's one syllable, and with i-c if it's two syllables. The exception is compound words – a word made by joining two words. They always end in i-c-k.

  11. Researchers have found no link between being a bad speller and a lack of intelligence.