30 Spelling Rules to Master Your English Spelling - English Hub

Many ESL learners find it difficult to write correct spellings in English. To help such learners here is a collection of 30 English Spelling Rules to get mastery over English spelling. These Spelling Rules are important to understand how an English word is created and pronounced.

These rules are very useful for students of grades 1-10 and teachers as well.

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30 Spelling Rules to Master Your English Spellings


SPELLING RULE ONE

When a word ends with a short vowel followed by a consonant, double the last consonant before adding 'ed'

Example:
The girls skip >> The girls skipped.

drop → dropped
admit → admitted
occur → occurred
trim → trimmed
shop → shopped
flip → flipped

Try yourself...
trip → 
mop → 
submit →
trot →
rub →
prefer →


SPELLING RULE TWO

When action words end with an 'sh', 'ch', 'ss', 'x', or a 'z' and 'es' is added to make the present tense.

Example:
Fiona waltzes most Tuesday nights with Jim.

catch → catches
relax → relaxes
reach → reaches
cross → crosses
wax  → waxes
fish → fishes

Try yourself ...

buzz →
watch →
push →
tax →
pass →
fix →


SPELLING RULE THREE

When an action word ends with a consonant followed by a 'y', change the 'y' to an 'i' before adding 'es'.

Example:
The pirate buries his treasure with great care.

tidy → tidies
copy → copies
fry → fries
empty → empties
try → tries
carry → carries

Try yourself ...
hurry →
fly →
worry →
dry → 
dirty →
apply →


SPELLING RULE FOUR

Double the consonant before adding 'ng' to words that have a short vowel followed by a consonant at the end.

Example:
Grandad was sitting in his chair all morning.

stop → stopping
wrap → wrapping
step → stepping
slam → slamming
nod → nodding
skip → skipping

Try yourself ...
trap →
rip →
beg →
тар →
rub →
chop →

Also read: The Rules of Silent Letters in English

SPELLING RULE FIVE

When a word ends in a silent 'e', drop the 'e' before adding an 'ing' The magic 'e' runs away!

Example:

Ian loves platform diving on his weekends.

move → moving
hide → hiding
taste → tasking 
chase → chasing
race → racing 
wipe → wiping

Try yourself ...
love →
store →
change →
drive →
hope →
stare →
Exception - be → being


SPELLING RULE SIX 

When a word ends in a double consonant, do not double the last letter before adding an 'ing'.

Example:
Kellie has been thinking about marrying Ridge.

report → reporting 
copy → copying 
bump → bumping 
work → working 
wash → washing 
dust → dusting 

Try yourself...
carry →
hurry → 
Spy →
bend → 
camp →
scratch → 

For words ending in 'y' leave the 'y' and add 'ing'.


SPELLING RULE SEVEN 

For action words that end in 'ie', change the 'ie' to a 'y' before adding an 'ing'.

Example:
Bryan enjoys lying on his back to watch clouds.

Try yourself...
die →
lie →
tie →


SPELLING RULE EIGHT 

Often 'ly' is added to base words to turn them into adverbs, adjectives or describing words.

Example:
Rynell Bungy jumped carefully from the tower.

smart → smartly
love → lovely 
slow → slowly
main → mainly
pure → purely
nice → nicely

Try yourself..
rude →
kind →
loud →
quick →
soft →
glad →


SPELLING RULE NINE 

When adding 'ly' to words that end in 'y', change the 'y' to an 'i' before adding the 'ly'.

Example:
Kirsty scored the goal quite daintily.

happy → happily 
merry → merrily 
easy → easily
busy → busily 
pretty → prettily 
cosy → cosily

Try yourself... 
hungry →
weary →
heavy →
day →
angry →
necessary →


SPELLING RULE TEN 

When the suffix 'full' is added to the end of a base word, one 'l' has to be dropped.

Example:
Janelle paints colourful works of art.

hope → hopeful 
cheer → cheerful
thank → thankful
taste → tasteful 
use → useful 
force → forceful

Try yourself... 
truth →
peace → 
play →
dread →
fear →
joy →

eg: "thankful' means full of thanks


SPELLING RULE ELEVEN

Before adding 'er' and 'est' to words ending in a consonant, followed by a 'y', change the 'y' to an 'i'.

Example:
Dean is the skinniest member at the local gym.

lazy → lazier
lovely → loveliest 
mighty → mightier
salty → saltiest
funny → funnier
heavy → heaviest

Try yourself... 
sandy →
crazy →
happy →
curly →
dry →
fancy →

These new words are called degrees of comparison.


SPELLING RULE TWELVE

Double the last letter before adding 'er' or 'est' to words that have a short vowel followed by a single consonant.

Example:
Lyne has become a great ocean swimmer.

fit → fittest 
slim → slimmest 
rob → robber
travel → traveller
win → winner
slip → slipper
 
Try yourself...
spin →
run →
sit →
drum →
begin →
stop →


SPELLING RULE THIRTEEN 

Double the last letter of words ending in a short vowel followed by a single consonant before adding a 'y'.

Example:
Ricky enjoys lying back on a sunny day.

rag → raggy 
shag → shaggy
cat → catty
wit → witty
fog → foggy
fun → funny

Try yourself...
run →
wool →
mud →
skin →
fur →
bad →


SPELLING RULE FOURTEEN

Just add a 'y' to words ending in two consonants to form describing words.

Example:
The last few days have been quite windy in Moura.

dirt → dirty
might → mighty
thirst → thirsty
trick → tricky
health → healthy
sand → sandy
 
Try yourself...
rock →
wealth →
chill →
filth →
smart →
fuss →


SPELLING RULE FIFTEEN

For words ending in a silent 'e', you must first drop the 'e' before adding a 'y'.

Example:
Kookaburras are very noisy birds.

bone → bony
ice → icy
rose → rosy
smoke → smoky
stone → stony
race → racy

Try yourself... 
flake →
taste →
spike →
scare →
nose →
laze →


SPELLING RULE SIXTEEN 

To indicate possession or ownership by a person or object, an apostrophe (') followed by an 's' is added.

Example:
Billy's horse bucked him at the rodeo.

horse → horse's
Jenny → Jenny's
office → office's
Billy → Billy's
bird → Bird's
Nigel → Nigel's

Try yourself...
Santa →
Moura →
Peter →
car →
Mary →
shoe →


SPELLING RULE SEVENTEEN 

To indicate ownership by a person whose name ends in an 's' or a plural noun, just add an apostrophe (').

Example:
Camilla rubbed the sunscreen on Charles' chest.

poets → poets'
gases → gases'
Lewis → Lewis'
Gladys → Gladys'
babies → babies' 
Ross → Ross'
 
Try yourself... 
flowers →
Dennis →
class →
Chris →
bottles →
boss →


SPELLING RULE EIGHTEEN 

An apostrophe (') is also used to create a contraction, indicating where a letter or letters have been left out.

Example:
She's really looking forward to the ballet recital.

I am → I'm
she would → she'd 
who is → who's
they had → they'd
do not → don't
let us → let's

Try yourself... 
you are →
it is →
can not →
where is →
he is →
she will →


SPELLING RULE NINETEEN

This rule says, 'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.

Example:
Many people believe unicorns exist.

rel__ve → relieve 
dec_t → decei
w_rd → wierd
c_ling → ceiling 
v_n → vein
glac_r → glacier

Try yourself... 
rec_ve →
th_r → 
n_ghbour →
fr_nd →
anc_nt →
rec_pt →

Remember, there are ALWAYS exceptions!

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SPELLING RULE TWENTY

CAPITAL LETTERS are used at the beginning of names and places.

Example:
Uluru is a well known Australian landmark.

brisbane → Brisbane 
luke → Luke
moura → Moura
rebecca → Rebecca
yeppoon → Yeppoon 
mikarla → Mikarla

Try yourself... 
adelaide →
donald →
mackay →
phillip →
gladstone →
alex →


SPELLING RULE TWENTY ONE

Prefixes can be added to base words to create new words. Prefixes ending in vowels are added directly to base words.

Example:
It is important to try to recycle any items we can.

re+move → remove
de+frost → defrost 
para+chute → parachute
tele+vision → television
re+gain → regain
giga+byte → gigabyte
 
Try yourself... 
tri+angle →
kilo+metre →
auto+graph →
de+void →
re+align →
multi+age →

SPELLING RULE TWENTY-TWO

Sometimes negative prefixes are added to words to create new words and change their meaning.

Example:
Some people say it's impossible for cows to talk.

un+well → unwell
dis+miss → dismiss
in-ferior → inferior
mis+spell → misspell
im+patient → impatient
mal+treat → maltreat

Create new words using these prefixes... 
non+
anti+ 
sub+
dys+ 
ab+
mis+


SPELLING RULE TWENTY-THREE 

Prefixes can be added to roots to form new words. Roots often have meanings from other languages.

Example:
Mr Smith may predict* a hot summer again.

di+vide → divide 
audi+ble → audible
pro+ceed → proceed
inter+cept → intercept
de+tatch → detatch
auto+matic → automatic

Try yourself... 
chron+ic
ex+ceed 
cred+ible
per+mit 
meta+phor
poly+gon → 

*'pre' means 'before' and 'dict' means 'speak'.


SPELLING RULE TWENTY-FOUR 

When adding a vowel suffix to words ending in a silent 'e', drop the 'e' and add the suffix.

Example:
Vikings lived many, many years ago.

store+age → storage
forgive+en → forgiven
pale+est → palest
live+ed → lived
manage+er → manager
amaze+ing → amazing

Try yourself... 
nice+est →
like+en 
grave+ity →
use+ing 
arrive+al →
forge+ery → 

Remember, there are always exceptions to the rule!


SPELLING RULE TWENTY-FIVE 

The letter 'g' may have a soft or hard sound. A soft 'g' is usually followed by an 'i' or 'e'. A hard 'gʻis usually followed by a consonant or an 'a', 'o' or 'u'.

Example:
→ 'g' in 'golf is hard
→ 'g'in 'gem' is soft

gipsy → soft
general → soft
gel → soft
goat → hard
goose → hard
goblet → hard

Which are hard and which are soft? 
gym →
gutter →
ginger →
giant →
gather →
gas →


SPELLING RULE TWENTY-SIX

The letter 'c' may have a soft or hard sound. When 'c' meets an 'a', 'o' or 'u' its sound is hard. When 'c' meets an 'e', 'î' or 'y' its sound is soft.

Example:
centipede (soft c)
cards (hard c) 

candle → hard c 
cymbals → soft c 
cave → hard c
cuddle → hard c
circus → soft c
curly → hard c
  
Identify which are hard and soft
caring →
citizen →
comedy →
circle →
cycle →
cat →


SPELLING RULE TWENTY-SEVEN

CAPITAL letters are used to spell the names of proper nouns, including people and places.

Example:
Lloyd is an accomplished bowler in Moura.

adelaide → Adelaide 
luke → Luke
lion's park → Lion's Park
qantas → Qantas
mazda → Mazda
english → English
 
Try yourself... 
biloela →
christmas →
rover →
jessica →
july →
australia →


SPELLING RULE TWENTY-EIGHT 

Homophones are words that have the same sound but a different meaning and spelling.

Example:
→ A pair of scissors.
→ The pear is a sweet fruit.

route → root
allowed → aloud
pause → paws
principal → principle
maid → made
days → daze

Write another word that sounds the same as... 
practise →
main →
male →
threw →
four →
not →


SPELLING RULE TWENTY-NINE

A homograph is a word that may have more than one meaning or pronunciation.

Example:
→ A calculator is a useful object.
→ The Lawyer said, “I object !"

Other examples... 
bow → The front of a ship; to bend or a knot 
wind → A breeze or to turn around 
desert → To leave people or a dry, arid place

Can you identify the different meanings? 
close →
excuse →
wound →


SPELLING RULE THIRTY 

Sometimes when writing, words may be shortened. These are known as abbreviations.

Example:
I need to make an appointment to see Dr Phillips. 

Other examples... 
kilometre → km 
Street → St 
centimetre → cm 
Anonymous anon 
Australia → Aust 
antemeridian → a.m.

Try yourself... 
kilogram →
example →
approximately →
page →
Queensland →
second →
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