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Common Spelling Rules, Prefixes, and Suffixes: Grammar Review Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Aug 25, 2011

The Silent E

When a word ends with a silent e, the e is dropped before adding the suffix that begins with a vowel (e.g., -ing, -ed, -er, -able). For instance:

use using used user usable
debate debating debated debater debatable
move moving moved mover movable

When a suffix is being added that begins with a consonant (e.g., -ly, -ment, -ful), leave the e at the end of the word. For instance:

love lovely
agree agreement
grace graceful
Fuel For Thought

Words tht end in -ce and -ge and have a suffix beginning with -a or -o added to it (e.g., -able and -ous) keep the final e. For instance:

outrage outrageous enforce enforceable
courage courageous service serviceable

Also, words that end in -ee keep the final e before some suffixes beginning with a vowel (e.g., -ing, -able). For instance:

agree agreeing agreeable
see seeing seeable
foresee foreseeing foreseeable

Finally, there are words that don't follow the aforementioned rules and whose spelling will need to be memorized. For instance:

argument truly ninth

These words keep the final e because dropping it would lead the reader to think it was a completely different word. For instance:

singe singeing

Without the e, the word would read "fa-la-la" singing, not "oh, this is burning" singeing. For another instance:

dye dyeing

Without the e, the word would read "soon to be not living" dying, not "I prefer this shade of red for streaking my hair" dyeing.

Words Ending in -Y

When -y is the final letter, change the -y to -i before adding the suffix. For instance:

happy happily happiness
lazy lazily laziness
faulty faultily faultiness
Inside Track

If this suffix being added to the word ending in y begins with an -i (e.g., -ing), the y should remain. For example:

try trying qualify qualifying horrify horrifying

When the -y at the end of the word is preceded by a vowel, the -y is not changed but remains the same when a suffix is added. For instance:

employ employing employed employment
annoy annoying annoyed annoyance
enjoy enjoying enjoyed enjoyment
Inside Track

Here are some words that don't follow this rule.

day daily gay gaily say said
pay paid lay laid
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