1. Basic English Spelling Facts 2. Spelling Clues 3. Word Families 4. More Families 5. Word Fun 7. More Rules 8. Weird Words Say-it-in-English Entry Page

Return to Previous Page

page break

Absolutely RidiculousEnglishSpelling

Lesson 6: Some Rules to Spell By

page break

When to double the final consonant: When a one-syllable word has a single vowel followed by a single consonant at the end, the final consonant is doubled before a suffix beginning with a vowel. Confusing? Let's look at some examples.

  • One-syllable words = run, hit, push, shoot, jump, fly, spin, eat
  • One-syllable words with a single consonant at the end: run, hit, shoot, spin, 
  • One-syllable words ending with a single vowel followed by a single consonant: run, hit, spin






This leads to words like runner, running, hitter, hitting, spinner, spinning

Do you see why some of the words were eliminated?  push and jump have 2 consonants at the end, not one;  shoot and eat have two vowels in front of the final consonant.  Those words do not follow this rule, so you will not double their final consonants when you add a suffix.





bat batter batting
fit fitter fitting
run runner running
trim trimmer trimming
nod nodded nodding
mar marred marring







 The same rule works with a large group of words having more than one syllable IF those words end in a single vowel followed by a single consonant AND if the final syllable is the accented, or stressed, syllable.  Examples: commit, equip, confer, excel.  Words that do NOT fit this rule are: happen, benefit, retreat - the first two do not fit because they are not stressed on the last syllable, and retreat does not because there are TWO vowels before the final consonant.

WORD + ER or +ED + ING
begin beginner beginning
control controller controlling
commit committed committing
admit admitted admitting






Special Exceptions:  picnic, panic, traffic all add K before the suffix to keep the Hard K sound in front of the vowel which begins the suffix; picnicked, panicked, trafficker, trafficking.

 Adding suffixes to words that end with 'e': 

like ing liking
like ly likely
care ing caring
care ful careful
induce ing inducing
induce ment inducement







Exceptions: When a word ends with ce or ge the final e usually remains in order to maintain the soft c or g sound in the word:  courage + ous = courageous, notice + able = noticeable. This rule is explained on the More Rules page.

 Adding suffixes to words ending with Y:

donkey  donkeys 
annoy  ance annoyance
angry ly angrily
carry ing carrying
bury es, ed buries. buried






Forming plurals of Nouns: There are several different rules, each with its list of words that follow the rules and another list of words that do not.  We will just give a brief summary  and a few examples of the major rules.

Rule 1: Most English nouns form their plurals by adding S, including most words that end with F. 

cats trains picnics
boys schools stacks
monkeys steps chiefs

page break

Rule 2: Words ending in Consonant + O add ES buffaloes, vetoes, potatoes
exceptions: silos, egos, dynamos, and several musical terms such as solos, altos, pianos)
Rule 3: Some words change final F to V and add ES wolf = wolves, knife = knives, life = lives, loaf = loaves, leaf = leaves, calf = calves, sheaf = sheaves, thief = thieves, elf = elves, wife = wives, shelf = shelves
Rule 4: Compound nouns add S or ES to the main word mothers-in-law, attorneys-at-law, courts-martial
Rule 5: Non-English words use the plural form from the original language. fungus = fungi, medium = media, datum = data, analysis = analyses, criterion = criteria, beau = beaux

page break

When the letter S sounds like Z:  There are many situations in English in which the letter S will be pronounced as if it were a Z.  This usually happens at the end of a word in plurals or Third Person Singular forms of verbs.  The following chart will show you the S's that are pronounced as Z's, shown in RED.

please aces cares dolls
pleasure axes caves does
treasure aims calls ends
tease balls cows fails
cheese, cheeses bears dares flames
fumes homes lies nose
games his longs pays
girls is mails rise
goes jails moves stays
has kills names tiles

page break

 There are hundreds of other examples of these Z words.  Sometimes there is a pattern: 

Words that end in -s, -ss, -ch, -sh, -x, -z that need to add -ES to form the plural or the 3rd person singular form - the final S will sound like Z.

vase - vases fuss - fusses touch - touches
wish - wishes box - boxes fizz - fizzes




page break

For words that end with the sounds of -b, -d, -g, -l, -ll, -m, -n, -r, -v , when S is added to form the plural or the 3rd-person singular, that final S will sound like Z.  Here are some examples:

cab - cabs dad - dads bag - bags
club - clubs feel - feels flame - flames
lid - lids pull - pulls star - stars
frog - frogs noun - nouns glove - gloves

page break

If you ever want to know how to pronounce the final S, check a decent English  dictionary for the key to pronunciation.

A Note From the Teacher:

This will get you started learning to spell English correctly.  As we have noted a few times, the final solution is to READ, STUDY, PRACTICE, WRITE, MEMORIZE.  If you are taking the time to read these pages, then you are motivated enough to learn on your own how to spell these strange English words.  Our suggestion is:

  • Write all the Spelling Words from this site in a notebook.
  • Arrange the words in a manner that is sensible to you - by spelling similarities, by sound similarities, whatever.
  • Study  5 or 10 words at a time.
  • Write a brief definition of the words you are studying.
  • For the more difficult words, think of a clue, a key, a guide to help you remember them and to make them stand out from the other words.
  • Use the word in a sentence, then write the sentence.  Read the sentence aloud.
  • Close your eyes and picture each letter, in glowing colors if possible, as you spell it to yourself.
  • Ask a friend or relative to drill you, to say the words to you so you can spell them.

We guarantee that if you follow this procedure, you will not only learn to spell the words, you will make these words a permanent part of your English vocabulary.  Good Luck!


To learn some more spelling rules, go to the Next Page.

 2000-2018  Montoursville, PA 1775

Over 300 Popular Songs from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's

Get links to the videos of the songs and lyrics, Wikipedia biographies of the artists, and Then and Now photos. Practice reading Everyday English with the songs' Lyrics and the histories of the singers and bands at  www.mikiemetric.com .


Return to the top of the page.