Spelling Rules

Spelling Rules to Remember

Below are a list of foundation spelling rules you must follow when spelling common English language words.

I after E except after C


Believe (I after E), Receive (except after C)

If the sound is ‘ay’, it is spelt ‘ei’

These are usually found within a word and not at the end. It can help to say the word out loud.


Eight, Neighbour


Two words added together to make a new word. With a prefix, the two words you use are not changed in order to create one new word.


Mis and Step = Misstep

Pre and Eminent = Preeminent

A word of more than one syllable ending in a single consonant (any letter other than a, e, i, o, u) after a single vowel (a, e, i, o, u) doubles the consonant before adding -ed or -ing


Occur – occurring, begin = beginning, control = controlling

But you must remember – words of more than one syllable have their consonants doubled only when the final syllable is stressed. To understand this, say the word out loud.


begin = beginning BUT open = opening

defer = deferring BUT offer = offering

If the earlier vowel is not stressed, then do not double the consonant before adding -ing or -ed


enter / entering

visit / visiting

Exceptions to the rule:

worship / worshipping

kidnap / kidnapping

handicap / handicapped

Final consonants are not doubled before suffixes beginning with a consonant


enrol / enrolment

commit / commitment

fulfil / fulfilment

Words of more than one syllable ending in ‘L’ double the ‘L’ even if stress does not fall on the last syllable before you add -ing or -ed


cancel / cancelled

travel / travelling

level / levelling

equal / equalled

Keep the final ‘e’ of the base word before adding a suffix beginning with a consonant (-ment, -ful, -ness, -less)


commencement, pronouncement, amusement


argument, awful, truly, wholly

If the suffix or verb (doing word) ending begins with a vowel, drop the ‘e’


commence / commencing

pronounce / pronouncing

amuse / amusing

To obtain the ‘s’ sound of a ‘c’ and the ‘g’ sound of a “j” in words ending in ‘ce’ and ‘ge’, we keep the final ‘e’ at the end of the word.


peace = peaceable

replace = replaceable

arrange = arrangement

A word ending in two vowels (‘a’ and the final ‘e’) obtains ‘e’ before adding a suffix


see / seeable

shoe / shoeing

canoe / canoeing

flee / fleeing

For words that end in ‘c’, add ‘k’ before adding -ing or -y


picnic / picnicking

traffic / trafficking

panic / panicking

If the word has a consonant before ‘y’, and when adding -ed or -er after ‘y’, change the ‘y’ to ‘i’


mercy / merciless

fly / flier

carry / carried

You must remember – If the word has a vowel before the ‘y’ or when adding -ing, keep the ‘y’


employ / employed

annoy / annoyed

carry / carrying

If a word ends in ‘o’, add -es


potato / potatoes

echo / echoes

hero / heroes


studio / studios

piano / pianos

kangaroo / kangaroos

zoo / zoos

The sounds -ian and -tion sound familiar, but they do not have the same meaning


-ian is used at the end of a word describing a person – music / musician

-tion is never used for people

If the root word end in ‘t’, use -tion


complete / completion

If the root word ends in ‘s’ or ‘d’ use -sion


extend / extension

suppress / suppression

If you can hear the sound ‘zhun’ to a word, use -sion not -zion






The ending -mit becomes ‘mission’

permit / permission

omit / omission

submit / submission

commit / commission

Need more help?

If you need more help on this topic, you can book a lesson with one of our English tutors. Pay-as-you-go lessons with no minimum number of sessions.

Lessons are held over Skype and FaceTime. Click on the button below to book a lesson

Shopping Cart