Quick Grammar

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Spelling Rules

What are the spelling rules? 

Spelling is undoubtedly critical for flawless writing, but with so many variations in the way words are pronounced and spelled to the differences in American and British spelling of words, many things can go plain wrong when using unfamiliar words. English words used to be spelled more phonetically than today. However, many of these words still retain their spellings, but now pronounced differently.  Thankfully, there are a number of rules to follow when you are not quite sure of the right letters. So, here are spelling rules you should keep in mind.

Spelling Rule 1: I Before E, Except After C
Having problems with ie and ei? This rule is for you. The  I Before E, Except After C  rule means you are likely right spelling words with i before e as in "believe" in contrast to spelling as "beleive" except if the preceding letter is c in which case e goes before i, e.g., in receive and ceiling. However, there are a huge number of exceptions to the rule. So, you'll be fine only using this as a guideline. For example, conscience is not spelled e before i even though they come after c.
Unless it sounds like A
In other words, both i and e are pronounced like the letter a. In such cases, the letter E goes before I., e.g., in sleigh, neither, etc. 

Spelling Rule 2: Adding Suffixes to Words that End in Y
If your suffix starts with E and you need to add it to words ending in Y, the Y takes a swift change to an I., e.g., Dirty – dirtier,  Friendly – Friendlier,  Kitty – Kitties, etc. 
However, when the suffix –ing is added, the Y remains unchanged. So we have; Trying, Frying, etc.
When adding the suffix –ly, if there are two consonants before the letter Y, the Y is changed to I. Examples are carry – carrying, marry – marrying, reply- replying, angry - angrily
And there are always exceptions to the rule. So you have: sly – slyly,  shy – shyly, etc. 

Spelling Rule 3: The Silent E
The letter E ending a word not be pronounced, but it does affect how the vowel before the consonant it follows is pronounced. The E makes it necessary to elongate the vowel sound (e.g., in Bite, Mite) and not shorten it (e.g., in Bitten). This is important since the presence or absence of letter E can wholly change the meaning of words.  For example, without E, the word Bite becomes Bit which changes the word to past tense.
The silent E is dropped from the root word if a suffix like -ed, -er or –est is added. E.g., Muted, Bravest, etc.

Spelling Rule 4: Double Consonants
Some words have double consonants that are pronounced silently. This is common in monosyllable words. For example, barred, starred, topped, etc. Such consonants are common in words with suffixes attached to them. 

Spelling Rule 5: Plural Suffixes
There are a few rules when changing words to their plural forms:
When changing a word with an sh,  s, ch, –z or –x ending to plural, es. is added. For example. Watch – watches, Clutch – clutches, etc.
Words with other endings are changed to plural when –s is added. Thus, we have; cup – cups, food-foods, sky- skies, etc. 
Also, remember that some words are spelled the same in their plural form. Examples are furniture and luggage.

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