In this day and age, the skill of spelling seems to be becoming less important with the invention of spell-checkers on word processors. But if English is your second language, it helps to have a good idea of which word you are trying to spell.

English spelling mistakes

How would you say these words?

  • Colonel and kernel
  • Ate and eight
  • Sense and cents

Despite very different spelling, these pairs are pronounced the same. Now say these words:

  • Through
  • Thorough
  • Thought
  • Cough
  • Bough
  • Enough

These words all contain ough but it is pronounced differently in each word.

The thing with languages is that they continue to develop; especially with a language that has as long a history as English does. English is very much a borrowing language, taking words from other languages and making them its own. Look at the French influence in the word questionnaire – the double n and the silent e. If you borrow words from other languages, the rules of spelling will be different and English has borrowed from many languages.

And then there’s the fact that new words are added every day. New things are being invented and given names that don’t follow the rules of spelling such as iPad and iPod.

That’s why the spelling of English can be difficult even for native speakers.

English spelling tips

If you want to improve your spelling, here are some tips.

1) Read a lot. Seeing words on the page helps you to visualize that word when you need to spell it. If you have only ever heard the word, it is much harder to spell it.

2) Write a lot. This will help you to identify which words you need to improve.

3) Keep a list of words that you spell wrong. Especially the ones that come up again and again.

4) Use mnemonics to help you to remember the spelling of these words.

A mnemonic is a saying that helps you to remember how to spell a word.

Slaughter is just laughter with an s.

5) Use acronyms.

To make an acronym, make a saying using each letter of the word.

A famous example is BECAUSE- Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants.

Do you want to improve your English spelling? Check out our English writing course and register online.

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