Ten Spelling Strategies

the number 10

One of the best spelling strategies around is to master the top spelling rules. Understanding these rules will give adults and students of all ages more success and confidence as they tackle bigger and harder words.

Spelling Strategies to Double or Not to Double

swimmerswimmer

#1 If a one-syllable word has a short vowel sound and ends with one consonant, double the final consonant before adding a suffix that begins with a vowel or y. Examples: swimmer, dipping, saggy

#2  If a one-syllable word ends with two consonants or two vowels and one consonant, do not double the final consonant before adding a suffix that begins with a vowel. Examples: helper, reading, rushed

#3  If a one-syllable word has a short vowel sound, do not double the final consonant before adding a suffix that begins with a consonant. Examples: sadly, bagful, fitness

Strategies for Silent e   

the letter E

#4 Drop a silent e before adding a suffix that begins with a vowel. Examples: hoping, joked, believable

#5  If a word ends with a silent e, do not drop the e when adding a suffix that begins with a consonant. Examples: careless, safety, arrangement.

Spelling Strategies for More Suffixes

#6 When the suffix –ly is added to a word, the spelling of the base word does not usually change. Examples: kindly, actively, slowly. Exceptions: terribly, truly, wholly, and others

#7  The suffix –ful never has two ls. When –ful is added to a word, the spelling of the base word usually does not change. Examples: thankful, spoonful, forgetful

See page with lists of suffixes for more information:

list of suffixes

Strategies for Y or I

changing Y to I

#8  If a word ends with a consonant and a y, change the y to i before adding any suffix (except one that begins with i). Do not change the y if it is preceded by a vowel. Examples: cries, sleepy, joyful  

#9  When a word ends with a y, do not change the y when adding a suffix that begins with i.  Examples: studying, crying, paying

Strategies for IE or EI

#10 Use i before e except after c or when sounded like a as in neighbor and weigh.  Examples: friend, believe, ceiling, receive, eight, vein
Note: There are many exceptions to this rule, including: neither, science, their, weird, ancient, height, protein, sufficient and more. These words need to be memorized. See our huge list on this page.

man scratching his head

You may be thinking, "There are a lot more spelling rules than this!"

You're right. There are a WHOLE lot more, including rules about plural nouns and prefixes. But when your students  learn these ten spelling strategies, they'll improve their spelling scores in no time!

How to Practice These Strategies

Mom helping son with spelling lesson

We've written some spelling exercises to practice the spelling strategies above.  See all of our spelling lessons for more practice tips.

Another way to improve spelling is to master some of the most frequently misspelled words


Go to main page for Spelling Lessons

Go to Spelling Help for Adults

Go to home page for Spelling Words Well



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