ESL Writing: Spelling

Spelling English words:

People spoke English before they wrote it. When they started writing it was a lot of confusion about how to represent the sounds. That means there was a lot of confusion about how to spell the words. Over the years, the way people spoke English changed, but what they wrote down in books and dictionaries did not change. As a result, it is often a little common between how English is written and how it is spoken. That's why English spelling looks illogical.

But you have to deal with the difficulties of spelling correctly in your writing. Proper spelling is important to you when you learn to write English. It is important for two main reasons.

The first is that the picture you write projects of your seriousness and competence depends a lot on your spelling. People who spell correctly in writing are considered more intelligent and their professional work gives a better impression.

The second reason is that spelling correctly can help not only your writing but also your reading and speaking. Most adults who learn English usually say there is no point in spelling English words.

It's not true. Although English is not always pronounced in the way it is spelled, you will be able to learn some facts and "rules" for English spelling that will help you in your writing. But remember that even the best rules have their exceptions. Although spelling is usually read for children, it is not children's play. It is important to you because it is very closely related to your reading, writing and vocal improvement. This is because all these activities depend on the same language skills.

Spelling and writing:

Of course, spelling is most linked to writing. Your writing will not impress your readers as mature or professional if it is full of misspelled words. Also, if you can't spell well, you will tend to avoid writing, and as you type, write shorter pieces. The result of your fear of spelling will keep you from using the more expressive words you may know because you are afraid of spelling them wrong. This is why we have this section on spelling in a book designed to help you improve your writing.

Spelling and reading:

As your spelling enhancements, you can read more words. You will be able to read groups of words, rather than simple words and understand more of your reading. You will get clues from your knowledge of word parts. For example, if you learn the word sociology, you will recognize the end in other words, such as geology, biology etc.

When you encounter new words that indicate intangible activities, you will be able to build on ology final. You will only have to learn the word that indicates the study. In this way, your recognition and spelling words grow.

You know that there are many words in English that are spelled differently but pronounced in the same way. The words rite, write, and Right are all pronounced the same. Instead of making your reading more difficult, it will make it easier for you. When you learn the meaning of the different words, the spelling will help you stay confused by the meaning and help you understand what you are reading.

An example of the connection between spelling and reading is the pair of words, stationery and stationary. School children learn to spell both words correctly by tapping on the memory of remembering the words mail and paper (goods sold in stationery stores) are written with the letters "er" and not "ar". In this way, the children will remember that stationery with an "e" refers to the correspondence tools, such as paper and envelopes etc.

Spelling and speaking

Some words in English, for example meat, flush, lightning, fresh , etc. are only different from one another in one or two letters. The person who learns to spell these words necessarily learns the meaning and vice versa. The people who concentrate on the spelling and the value of the consonants will also improve their speech and writing. An interest in spelling makes you a better speaker and author of English. You will better understand the meaning of words when writing them.

Learning the differences in spelling will also help in your speaking; You will know their meaning and how to pronounce them more clearly. Likewise, an interest in the right pronunciation will make you a better speaker of English. Some people just spell like words wrong and give the excuse that "they sound the same". But when you learn the right pronunciation, you will be able to spell the word correctly.

Ways to learn spelling rules:

Some say that English is crazy and has no rules, and that there is no way to learn spelling rules. These people influenced the teaching of the child's main English. Their theory of teaching English emphasized the word's visual recognition. With this approach, this makes learning the spelling of English words the same way as learning Chinese characters.

Fortunately, this approach is shifted and teachers return to what used to be the spelling strategy, the language-based spelling teaching. Now we realize that the spelling of nearly 50% of English words is predictable based on the letters in the word. For example, the spelling of the "hard" k-sound, / k / in pack, look, and Act are predictable for those who know the rules. In addition, 34% more English words (e.g. knit, boat and two ) are predictable in addition to a sound.

Finally, if we take into account other information, such as the word of the word, or its meaning, a very small percentage of English words is really irregular and must be learned visually by reading them several times. The language-based spelling option is even more appropriate for you, who learn English as an adult. You are better equipped than the child to see categories and to apply rules. If the language-based system is better for children It is even more useful for adults.

The language-based method is based on:

  • the word origin and history,
  • syllable pattern,
  • verbal elements,
  • letter pattern.
  • Do not be afraid. We will explain these points step by step and as clearly as possible. The few examples we should give you should be sufficient to allow you to recognize other examples of the three main parts of the language-based approach so that you can continue to improve your spelling on your own after reading this brief introduction.

of words: Knowing the important parts of words such as prefixes, suffixes and roots will help you in spelling, writing and speaking. Some teachers will provide a list of words for students to memorize, for example, their spelling teacher, professor, aviator, writer, actor, carpenter, writer, plumber, baker , etc.

Concentrating on the various suffixes is a better way to learn the difference in the spelling of these words. Take a look at what follows. It is just an example, but helps you discover and learn other words. Today's words end in "your", and the more modern or sophisticated words end in "or".

There is a reason for this that will help you. Words that name everyday professions and professions (like teachers, bakers, carpenters) come from old English or entered modern English early, while "more fancy" professions (as professor, actor, author) are the words of Latin-derived words, and was introduced to English much later.

This is just an example of how a knowledge of the various suffixes, "you" or "or" can help you. The origin of these two different suffixes also causes us to look at the role of the origin and history of the words in the next section. English has many Latin and Greek word parts (prefixes, roots and suffixes).

It is useful to know them to use the right words in your writing. Look at the following. Below are some examples; they are just a few among many who have written in English. In other words, if you learn a root or a prefix, it will help you. Little by little you can learn everything. For example, in the word "geology" the word "geo" has to do with the earth, and "ology" is "study of". The next time you see the word "geography", "geometry", etc. you will know that it has something to do with the earth. You will also begin by knowing the meaning of "anthropology", psychology, "sociology", "criminology" etc.

Common roots

Root – Original meaning – Example – Definition of the example

agri-field – agronomy – study of plant production and soil.

anthropology – anthropology – human study

astronaut – astronaut – one traveling in interplanetary space

bio-life – biology – the study of life

heart – heart-heart – related to the heart

cede – go – preceded – to go ahead

chromo – color – monochromatic – only one color

demos – people – democracy – the government of the people derma – skin – the epidermis – the outer layer of the skin

geojord – geology – the study of the earth's water – dehydration – the loss of water

hypno – sleep – hypnosis – a sleeping condition

throw – throw out – to throw out

volume – large, large – enlarges – to enlarge, to make larger

man (u) – handwritten – handwritten

mono-a-monoplan – aircraft with a wing

ortho – straight – orthodox – right, true, straight opinion

ology – study of – geology – study of the earth

onomy – science of – astronomy – the science of the stars

pod – foot – podiatry – care of footpsy – mind – psychology – study of the mind

pyro – fire – pyromaniac – a person obsessed with fire

manuscript – prescription – written instructions for health care.

terra – land – the ground – has to do with the planet earth

thermo-thermal thermometer – instrument for measuring heat

zoo – animals – zoology – animal studies


C ommon Prefixes (words at the beginning of the words)

Prefix – Original Meaning – Example – Definition of Example

a-, an- – without, not – atypical, amoral, anarchy – not typical, not moral, no government

ante – before – antebellum – before the war

anti-counter – antifreeze – liquid used to protect against freezing auto- self-automatic – self-acting or self-regulating

bene- good-benefit – a value; a gift two – bike – with two wheels

circumference – rewritten – drawing a line around – against – contradicting – talking to

they – reverse, remove – defoliate – dead vegetation by killing leaves

dis – apart – dislocate – out of ex – out – excavate – to dig out

equivalent – just as big – equally long – equal distance extra – beyond – extraterrestrial – beyond the earth

hyper-over-hypertension – high blood pressure

hypo-under-hypothermia – the body's reaction to extreme cold

in, il-, it-, im- invisible, illegal, impossible – not visible, not legal, not possible

between – between – intervening – comes between

intra – within – intramural – within the boundaries of a school

intro-in, in-introspect – to look inside, as a personal mind

macro – – big – macroscopic – big enough to see with the naked eye

Incorrect – misaligned – poorly adjusted

meters – (measurement – thermometer – instrument for measuring micro-micro – small – micrometers – instruments for measuring small units

multivitamin multivitamins – a pill containing many vitamins

neo- new – neologism – newly developed words non-non-conformist – one that does not conform

pan-all-pan-american games – western hemisphere contests

poly- many – polygonal – have many pages

post-postgraduate – after graduation

before – before – before – to go ahead

pro-for-proponent – a supporter

prototype – first prototype – first or original model

pseudo- false – pseudoscience – false science

Again – Rejuvenating – Making Young

retro- backwards – retrospect – one looks back

semicircle – semicircle

sub – submarine that goes underwater

super – – over – super fine – extra nice

telescope screen – looks or looks far away

trans – over – transoceanic – over the sea

ultra- beyond – ultraviolet – beyond violet on the light spectrum

un – n ot – unnecessary – not necessary

The origin and history of the word:

If you are curious and trying to learn the feelings of words when you look them up in a dictionary, you will be small and small to be aware of the influence that the word has on spelling. For example, my students confuse the words past tense and passed . They write: In the pass life was easier. The child passed his exams .

Of course, these sentences are incorrect. This is easy to correct. You have to realize that word passed is a form of the verb Pass because it ends with the letters "ed". When you have this engraved in your mind you will never write, the bus past our stop. You will know that because you are talking about what the bus did, you use a verb. You say the bus didn't stop, it continued. You will understand clearly that the right word to use is the word passed. The correct meaning is: The bus passed our stop.

Other examples are the pairs: fog and missed, band and forbidden . It should be easy for you to realize that the correct word purpose is as follows.

  • In the morning, the mist makes it difficult to see.
  • The hunter shot at the bird but missed.
  • Government banned smoking in public places.
  • The band played the music too loudly.

Syllable pattern

First of all, let's be sure we know what a syllable is. When we hear English spoken, we hear a certain rhythm; we do not hear an unbroken sound. We hear different parts of what is said. If we hear the phrase "Robert's father", we hear four parts of the saying: "Ro" "bert" "fa" "ther". Each of these parts is a syllable.

Let us also examine which vowels and consonants are. Waves are sounds that we do without interrupting the airflow through the mouth, tongue or lips. Consonants are sounds that stop, interrupt, begin or end a vowel; consonants are made with different placement and use of the speech organs. Now we can look at the syllables.

There are two types of syllables in English: open syllables and closed syllables .

It is very useful to know this because it helps you in your spelling. The open syllable ends in a vowel and that vowel is long. A closed syllable ends in a vowel and that vowel is short.

A vowel in an open syllable is long, for example he walks , and the first syllables of apron, hotel etc. A "long" is a vowel that sounds like its name in English. The "a" apron sounds like the name of the letter "a" and "o" in the hotel sounds like the name of the letter "o".

A closed syllable ends in a vowel and that vowel is short, that is, it has a sound that is NOT same as the vocal name in English. Why bother with this? Because it will help us spell properly the words we know how to pronounce.

You've probably heard the word "rabbit" and have talked about this long-standing animal. If you feel the difference between open syllables and closed syllables, you will know that you are spelling this word with two "b" s. If you spelled it with a "b" as "ra" "bit", the first syllable would be open and there the letter "a" would sound like its name and it would sound like "ray".

Knowing that the long ear name does not sound like "ray-bit", you know that it must double the consonant "b" in the middle of the word. On the other hand, the word "label" is divided into two syllables before the consonant so the first syllable is open and there is no double "b" as in "rabbit". So this word is pronounced with a long vocals and sounds like "lay-ble".

This is a simple rule to remember; It is the "rabbit rule" and reminds us that in a two-word word there must be a double consonant in the middle after a short vowel. Knowing this rule is better than memorizing the spelling of words like ladder, tennis, writing , etc.

Of course there are exceptions but the "rule" holds most things. According to the "rule", the words lemon and camel should be spelled with two "m" s because their first syllable is not long. But they are not spelled in the same way as they are spelled with only one "m".

This is an example of what makes people complain about English spelling. It is true that it would be easier for you if the "rabbit rule" was always followed, but why complain about the exceptions if the rule helps you most?

"Rabbit rule" not only helps you spell, it helps you read. If you come across an unknown word like "written", you will know how to pronounce it. You will know that the first vowel is not long, even if you know it is a form of the word "write".

Many who learn English think that the word should sound like "write". They pronounce the word as if it were "written". There is no need to pronounce it that way, because you have the word in front of you with two "t" s. Of course, knowing the rule you will write correctly.

Letter Pattern:

If you learn some facts about how different letters appear in English words, it will help you with your spelling and writing. This is because English is spelled in some ways to preserve the connection with how it is pronounced when possible.

Knowing a few letter patterns is a great help. For example, you probably already know that the letter "q" is always followed by the letter "u" as in the words "queen" and "query". Also, for some reason in the English language, no word can end with the letter "v" but a silent "e" at the end. That's why we have glove, move, live , etc.

/ K / sound There are more mail patterns but at the moment we are looking at one important one. The sound / k /, not the letter "k" is sometimes spelled with the letter "c" and sometimes with the letter "k". If the sound comes before the letters "a", "o" or "u" or before any consonant, the hard sound (like any cough) spells with the letter "c" as in the words "cat", "cup", "rock", "lock", "cut", "cable", "clean" etc. Before the letters "e", "i" or "y" this hard sound is spelled with the letter "k", which in the words "keep", "drake", "whiskey", kevin, tippers, funky, monkey, etc.

The letter "c" and / s / the sound The letter "c" usually has sound / s / before the letters "e", "i" or "y", as in the words cell, celery, coriander, receiving, incipient, cyber etc. On the other hand, as explained above, the letter "c" before the letters "a", "o" or "u" represents the hard sound as in the words "cat", "cup" "coat", "cover", "cut" , "cable", "clean" etc.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, but you can learn them by recording small reminders when you learn the words that do not follow the rule. To remember some of them say, "Kangaroo and skunk like skating".

/ G / sound A similar pattern means the sound / g /, not the letter "g". The sound / g / sounds like some choking or as Lady Gaga's name. This sound is sometimes spelled with the letter "g" and sometimes a "u" is required after "g". If the sound comes before the letters "a", "o" or "u" or before any consonant, it is spelled with the letter "g" alone, which in the words "get", "rubber", "glove", "go", " Gus "," gas "," lim "etc.

Before the letters "e", "i" or "y", this sound is spelled with the letters "gu", as in the words "guitar", "guess", "guy", guilty, etc. There are many exceptions to the rule, but as with the sound / k / you can learn them by inventing small reminders when you learn the words that do not follow the rule, for example "Get the gilded rampart!"

Rules for adding "es" to:

  • makes plurality of nouns ending in s, sh, ch or x,
  • and the third person singular of verbs ending in s, sh, ch or x.


A kiss – Two kisses

A lunch – four lunches

A fox – Three foxes

A load – Many lasses.

A tax – Many taxes

An ass – Many asses


Tax – NYC taxes our income.

Fish He fishes for salmon.

Crunch – She crunches up her old cereal boxes.

Pass-John passes all his tests.

Words ending in the letter "y" Words ending in this letter "y change" y "to" i "before adding any suffix or other ending word, but the suffix begins with the letter" i ".:

  • The word Happy changes "y" to "i", adds the suffix and becomes happiness
  • The word beauty changes "y" to "i", adds the suffix and becomes comfortable
  • The word multiple changes "y" to "i", adds the suffix and becomes plentiful
  • The word Try changes "y" to "i", adds the suffix and becomes attempt

BUT … If the suffix begins with the letter "i" (for example "ing"), the word Try DO NOT change "y" to "i". It adds the suffix and becomes strenuous. If we add the end ish to the word boy , we get boyish .

Double the final consonant:

one. Words ending in an accentive vocal or spelling of a special English vocal sound (which, in the order of "bird", "turn", "word") doubles the final consonant so that the word has the original sound when a vowel suffix is ​​added ..

For example:

remit – remittans

upset – disturbing

occurrence – occurred


referenced – referenced

match each other.

BUT … If the accented vowel is not short, the word does not duplicate the final consonant. Wait a minute! What is an accent? An accent (not how you speak, like an American accent) is stress or emphasis on a syllable. We say the word "phone" with the accent on the first syllable. It's TELephone, not telePHONE.

For example:

reload – reloaded

defeat defeat

delude deluding


b. Words ending in a consonant where accent is not on the last syllable Do not double the final consonant.

For example:

open opening

holler – hollow

recover – recycled

c. Even if the words end in a silent "e" "e" is lost and there is no doubling.

For example

forgive – forgiving

clean – clean

refuse – refusal

famous – famous

glob – global

convince – convincing

……………………………. …
The author of this article is Frank Gerace and it is taken from his book: ESL teachers can write right!