English can be complicated! Aside from the myriad grammar rules that you have remember (what exactly is a subordinate clause, anyway?), there many complicated spelling patterns.
While there are many spelling rules in the English language that don't make any sense (we're looking at you, silent gs and ks), the good news is that many English spellings follow specific patterns. We won't get into all of them here, but we will go through five of our favorites.
Let's dig in!
"I" Before "E" Except After "C"
Rule: You should always write "i" before "e" (when the sound the two make is long "e") except when they come after the letter "c".
- Examples of "i" before "e": relief, belief
- Examples of "e" before "i" after "c": deceive, receipt
Double the Consonants
Rule: When "b", "d", "g", "m", "n", or "p" come after a short vowel in a word with two syllables, double the consonant.
- Examples: rabbit, bummer, thinner
In most English words, an "e" that comes at the end of a word after a consonant is silent. However, that "e" does affect how you pronounce the vowel that precedes it – that vowel becomes long.
"Y" Becomes "I" When You Add a Suffix to a Word That Ends in "Y"
This spelling rule is hard to name in a pithy fashion, but fairly easy to remember. When you have a word that ends in "-y," that "-y" becomes an "-i-" whenever you add a suffix (such as -ed, -er, or -est) to it.
- cry becomes cried
- dry becomes drier
- dusty becomes dustiest
How do you make a word plural? For some words, you add an "-s". For others, you add an "-es". How do you know which to use?
If a word ends in "‑s", "‑sh", "‑ch", "‑x", or "‑z", you add "‑es", for example: sandwiches, suffixes, wishes.