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Proven Techniques to Improve Spelling Help (page 3)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 13, 2011

Rule 3: Adding a Suffix that Begins with a Vowel

When you add a suffix that begins with a vowel to a word that ends in e, drop the e before you add the suffix.

Word Suffix New Word
continue -ous continuous
fame -ous famous

Another exception is the word dye: dye + -ing = dyeing

Rule 4: Suffixes that Change the Spelling of Words that End in - y

Suffixes change the spelling of words that end in -y.

Word Suffix New Word
hearty -ily heartily
necessary -ily necessarily
happy -ness happiness

Rule 5: Doubling the Final Consonant in a One-Syllable Word

When a one-syllable action word ends in a consonant preceded by a vowel (e.g., run), double the final consonant before you change the form of the word.

      run       runner
      plan      planned
      thin       thinner

Rule 6: Doubling the Final Consonant in a Two-Syllable Word

When a two-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by a vowel and is accented on the second syllable (e.g., occur), change its form by doubling the final consonant (e.g., occurred).

  • refer         referred
  • occur       occurrence

Rule 7: Not Doubling a Final Consonant Based on Accent Changes

In a two- or three-syllable word, if the accent changes from the final syllable to a preceding one when a suffix is added (e.g., refer/reference), do not double the final consonant.

  • prefer       preference
  • confer       conference

Rule 8: I Before E Except After C

  • believe    
  • relief
  • receive    
  • niece

Exceptions to this rule occur when e comes before i in words that have a long a sound:

  • neighbor    
  • weigh

Other exceptions include:

  • weird    
  • leisure    
  • neither    
  • seize

Rule 9: Rules for Forming Plurals

Add an s to most words.

  • rug       rugs
  • shoe     shoes
  • Add es to words ending in -o preceded by a consonant.
  • hero         heroes
  • tomato     tomatoes
  • Add only an s to words that end in -o preceded by a consonant and refer to music.
  • alto       altos
  • piano     pianos
  • Add es to words ending in -s, -sh, -ch, and -x.
  • boss         bosses
  • crush        crushes
  • church      churches
  • sex           sexes
  • Change y to i, and add es in words that end in -y preceded by a consonant.
  • fly         flies
  • story     stories

Rule 10: More Rules for Forming Plurals

Words ending in -ful form their plurals by adding s to the end of the word.

  • mouthfuls     spoonfuls
  • A compound word forms its plural by adding s to the main word.
  • mother-in-law     mothers-in-law
  • court-martial       courts-martial
  • Numbers and letters form plurals by adding 's.
  • 7                     7's
  • m                     m's
  • Some words keep the same spelling for singular and plural forms.
  • sheep       deer
  • Chinese     trout
  • Some words form their plurals by irregular changes.
  • child         children
  • leaf           leaves
  • tooth         teeth
  • crisis         crises
  • thief           thieves
  • knife          knives
  • woman      women
  • louse          lice
  • alumnus      alumni
  • appendix     appendices
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