Improving Spelling

Frequently misspelt words

Test your child’s knowledge of some of the most frequently misspelt words.

Necessary

Quiet

Separate

Rhythm

Definitely

Judgment

Business

Occasionally

Recommend

Apparently

Achieve

Particularly

Pursue

Independent

Appropriate

Equipment

Fulfil

Analyse

Believe

Until

Knowledge

Embarrass

Really

Occurrence

Permanent

Technique

Argument

Sentence

Library

Different

Environment

Playwright

Receive

Familiar

Immediately

Questionnaire

Successful

Committed

Accommodate

Ingredient




Key spelling rules

Plurals

> Most plurals (showing there is more than one of something) are made by adding ‘s’ to the end of the word: cat – cats; horse – horses; page – pages. 

> They are never made by adding apostrophes!  So NEVER use cat’s; video’s; taxi’s – (you are actually meaning ‘belonging to the cat/horse/page’).

> Some words have a ‘hissing’ ending, e.g. words that end in s,x,z,sh,ch and ss; for lots of these words you add an ‘es’ to the end: bonus – bonuses; box – boxes; church – churches; whizz – whizzes.  

> If a noun ends in a single ‘f’ we often have to change the ‘f’ to ‘v’ before adding the ‘es’: loaf – loaves; wolf – wolves; shelf – shelves.  There are exceptions to this rule (as with so many things in English!) and these include: chefs, roofs, dwarfs and chiefs. 

> If a word ends consonant + ‘o’ then we usually add an ‘es’ to make the plural: potato – potatoes; volcano – volcanoes; torpedo – torpedoes.  Again there are exceptions that include: piano – pianos; solo – solos.

 

Suffixes

Suffixes are endings that are added to root words and change the meaning of the word (like the ‘s’ or ‘es’ that creates the plural).

> There are vowel suffixes (suffixes that begin with a vowel, including ‘y’) andconsonant suffixes.  Vowel suffixes include ‘ed’ ‘ing’ ‘able’ ‘ible’ ‘er’ ‘y’ ‘en’ ‘iest’ ‘est’ ‘al’

> For short words (usually one syllable) that end in a vowel + consonant then we double the last consonant before adding a vowel suffix: hop-hopped; bat-batty; fit-fitter; win-winning.

>  We do not double the final consonant if the word has two vowels or two finalconsonants: leaf – leafy; fool – foolish; self - selfish

>  We drop the final ‘e’ from a word before adding a vowel suffix: love- loving; taste – tasty; ride – riding; bubble – bubbling; drive – driver; rattle – rattled but keep it before a consonant suffix: taste – tasteful; home – homeless; wholesome - wholesomeness

> Consonant suffixes include ‘ment’ ‘ly’ ‘ty’ ‘ness’ ‘less’ and ‘ful’ (note that ‘ful’ as a suffix is never spelt with two ‘l’s).

> Consonant suffixes are added to words (usually) without the need to change the word at all: open – openness; love – lovely hope – hopeful.

> Sometimes, however, if the word ends in ‘y’, the last letter is swapped with ‘i’ before the consonant suffix is added: plenty – plentiful; merry – merriment.

> If a word ends consonant + ‘y’, change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ before adding any suffix(vowel or consonant) apart from ‘ing’: lady – ladies; party – parties; heavy – heavier; marry – marries.   

> If the word ends with oy, ay or ey then we do not change the final ‘y’ to ‘i’ (and yes there are exceptions to this exception: e.g. paid; said; laid).

 

Prefixes

A prefix goes before a root word and changes the meaning.  Prefixes include: ‘al’ ‘un’ ‘in’ ‘dis’ ‘en’ ‘under’ ‘over’ ‘meta’ ‘proto’ ‘re’ ‘pre’ ‘im’ ‘de’

 > Prefixes never change the spelling of the root word: necessary – unnecessary; satisfaction – dissatisfaction. If the prefix ends with a vowel and the root word starts with a vowel, a hyphen is sometimes added: exist – pre-exist; employ – re-employ.

> ‘Al’ is a prefix that sometimes is misspelt ‘all’ – the prefix only has one ‘l’: already; altogether; although; always.

 

Focusing on homophones

Homophones (words that sound the same but can be spelt in different ways and have different meanings) are common in English, in fact there are over 400 of them.   Most people know the difference when asked but written work can be littered with errors.  Examiners can be sympathetic about an ambitious word that is misspelt but homophones make up some of our simplest words and we really need to get them right.

Their/they’re/there

Too/to/two

Hear/here

Whether/weather

Aloud/allowed

Buy/by/bye

Know/no

Past/passed

Lead/led

Right/write/rite

Wait/weight

Practice/practise

Stationery/-ary

You’re/your

It’s/its

Whose/who’s

Principle/principal

Where/wear

Knew/new

Are/our

 

Examples in usage:

 The dog is over there.

The two dogs wagged their tails.

She had told them to wait where they were.

Practising spellings is useful. 

He hated piano practice. 

Yikes!  It’s a bull – and it’s flaring its nostrils at me!

Our school is great and the pupils are fantastic too.

It is important to know the principles of learning. 

She knew her new hairstyle would not be allowed.

They’re allowed to wear non-school uniform today.

The principal led the school in the celebrations.

The new train was stationary.

You can buy your stationery to write on here.

Say it aloud and hear your mistakes; make it right.

The weather forecast tells us whether it will be nice weather tomorrow.

 

Tips for improving and learning spellings

 > Learn patterns and rules
> Keep a glossary of your own frequently misspelt words then learn them using the LOOK COVER WRITE CHECK method
> Read as much good fiction and non-fiction as you can
> Put the subtitles on when watching a film/programme (but avoid putting them on for live shows – the mistakes made by the auto-scribers are funny but not necessarily helpful)
> Learn a word a day
> Make up rhymes/mnemonics to remember spelling (‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’; one cuff and two sleeves in necessary)
> Practise spellings regularly – and use them in context (i.e. make up sentences with them in)
> Find a spelling partner and test one another daily