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Basic English Spelling Rules
 
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These are general rules which apply regardless of the country or dialect, along with a few examples and exceptions.

Rule Examples Exceptions
“i” before “e”
Except after “c”,
Or when sounded as “a”
As in neighing and weigh.
believe, relief, priest, friend, field
receive, perceive, ceiling

weight, freight, beige, neigh, vein
seize, weird, heir, caffeine, foreign, protein, reign, sovereign, leisure, either, neither, height, sleight, forfeit, heifer
Final consonants of verbs (EXCEPT “h”, “w”, “x” or “y”) are doubled before a suffix which begins with a vowel
pat/patted/patting, big/bigger/biggest, occur/occurred/occurring, admit/admitted/admitting, cut/cuttable
show/showed/showing, vex/vexed/vexing, toy/toyed/toying, bus/bused/busing, prefer/preference, confer/conference
Final consonants of verbs are NOT doubled before suffixes when the word ends in more than one consonant
frown/frowned/frowning, help/helped/helping, match/matched/matching

Final consonants of verbs are also NOT doubled when the preceding vowel is unstressed (EXCEPT in the case of “l” in Britain and Canada)
enter/entered/entering, visit/visited/visiting, benefit/benefited/benefiting, devil/devilish, cancel/cancelled/cancelling (Br./Can.)
handicap/handicapped/handicapping, kidnap/kidnapped/kidnapping, focus/focussed/focussing (can be spelled with single or double “s”), worship/worshipped/worshipping (can be spelled with single or double “p”)
Final consonants of verbs are also NOT doubled when the preceding vowel sound is spelled with 2 vowels
shout/shouted/shouting, dread/dreaded/dreading, reveal/revealed/revealing

Verbs ending in a vowel then “-c”, add a “k” before suffixes like “-ed”, “-ing” and “-er”
mimic/mimicked/mimicking, frolic/frolicked/frolicking, picnic/picnicked/picnicker

Verbs ending in an unpronounced “-e”, keep the “e” before a suffix which begins with a consonant
care/careful, time/timeless, appease/appeasement, like/likeness
true/truly, whole/wholly, due/duly, argue/argument, awe/awful, nine/ninth, wise/wisdom
Verbs ending in an unpronounced “-e”, drop the “e” before a suffix which begins with a vowel
bake/baking, guide/guidance, craze/crazy, note/notable, lustre/lustrous, creative/creativity
canoeing, hoeing, shoeing, singeing, dyeing,
Words ending in a consonant then “-y” change the “y” to “i” before a suffix (UNLESS the suffix starts with “i”)
beauty/beautiful, defy/defiance, merry/merrier, heavy/heaviness, salary/salaried
cry/crying, study/studying
Words ending in a vowel then “-y”, keep the “y” before a suffix
obey/obeying, gay/gayest, journey/journeying, annoy/annoyance, day/daytime

Verbs ending in “-ie”, change the “ie” to “y” before adding “-ing”
tie/tied/tying, die/died/dying

Nouns ending in a soft “-ce” or “-ge”, keep the “e” before the suffixes “-able” and “-ous”
peace/peaceable, notice/noticeable, courage/courageous

Nouns ending in “-s”, “-z”, “-x”, “-sh” or “-ch”, add “-es” for plural, not just “-s”
glass/glasses, buzz/buzzes, box/boxes, fez/fezes, bush/bushes, switch/switches
quiz/quizzes
Nouns ending in “-o”, add “-es” for plural, not just “-s”
potato/potatoes, echo/echoes, tomato/tomatoes, hero/heroes
studios, pianos, radios, solos, zoos, kangaroos
Nouns ending in “-y”, change the “y” to “i” and add “-es” for plural (EXCEPT if preceded by “e”)
baby/babies, poppy/poppies, spy/spies, try/tries
key/keys, monkey/monkeys, alley/alleys, valley/valleys, chimney/chimneys
Nouns ending in “-f” or “-fe”, change the “f” to “v” and add “-es” for plural (EXCEPT if ending in "-ff")
thief/thieves, wolf/wolves, knife/knives, elf/elves
chiefs, handkerchiefs, beliefs, oafs, roofs, proofs, safes
sheriffs, plaintiffs, staffs, tariffs
Nouns ending in “-is” change to “-es” for plural
crisis/crises, analysis/analyses, thesis/theses, synopsis/synopses

“Full” becomes “-ful” when added to the end of a word
spoon/spoonful, wish/wishful

“All” becomes “al-” and “well” becomes “wel-” when added to the start of word
also, already, although, altogether
welcome, welfare

Verbs ending in the sound “-cede” are spelled “-cede” apart from 4 exceptions
intercede, accede, concede, precede, recede, secede
succeed, exceed, proceed, supersede