A good dictionary spelling strategy is important to have when you need help in spelling a difficult word.
But you may have asked yourself, “How can I find the word in the dictionary if I don’t know how to spell it?!!”
That's a great question! Here are a few tips.
1) Be sure you know how to pronounce the word correctly. You can probably get a few good clues from saying the word properly to yourself.
2) Write down the way that you think the word is spelled. You might have it right or at least be very close.
3) Try to find the word in the dictionary, just the way you’ve written it. If you find it there—fantastic! You’re all done—or almost done. Skip ahead to #6.
4) If you don’t find it, think of different spellings for some of the sounds. For example, the schwa sound is sometimes spelled with an a in about, an e in kitten, an i in cousin, o in oven, or u as in succeed. There are also several vowel combinations that make the schwa sound. So if you’re looking for seperate and can’t find it in the dictionary, try separate. Bingo!
Of course, consonant sounds also have alternate spellings. For example, the s sound can be spelled with s, sc, or c.
5) Use a spell checker.
If your word processing program, such as Open Office or MS Word, has a spell check, open a new document. Type in the word you’re questioning. If your spell checker underlines it, right click on the word to see alternate suggestions. Sometimes the suggestions are wacky, but sometimes you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
6) Double-check the meaning of the word in question.
There are some very tricky homonyms. For example, you might not be sure how to spell the word for a matched set of writing paper and envelopes. You determine that one correct spelling is stationary, and you may think you’re done. Not so fast. That spelling, with an a, means fixed in a station; immobile. The correct spelling for paper and envelopes is stationery.
There are spelling dictionaries tailored specifically to this dilemma. For example, Webster's New World Pocket Misspeller's Dictionary lists the most common misspellings of more than 15,000
frequently used words, and gives the correct spellings in easy-to-read
boldface type. Brief definitions are also included to help you know for sure that you have the correct word.
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Take at look at some of the free resources here at Spelling-Words-Well:
102 frequently misspelled words: Study this list to boost your spelling abilities. Everybody has a few spelling glitches!
Explained, Part 1: Improve
spelling skills by choosing the correct homonym. Definitions and
examples included for homonyms beginning with A - P.
Troublesome homonyms Explained, Part 2: Here's more spelling help with homonyms. If your/you’re ever to/too confused to use the correct homonym, print out this free, handy reference tool! Homonyms beginning with P - Y.
Think-a-Spell eBook: 365 Brain Teasers and Spelling Challenges for Ages 10 to Adult
101 Word Play Puzzlers Discover the FUN of letters & words as you solve each unique puzzle. Great vocabulary & spelling practice!
AnyWord Spelling Practice Series Fun Worksheets, games & prompts that work with almost ANY spelling words!
300 Spelling Bee Words by Grade Level, with definitions, sentences and languages
Spelling Bee Toolboxes for Grades 3/5 and 6/8 All the resources you need for a successful bee!
Mammoth Spelling Bee Word Lists with sentences, definitions, and languages
Monumental Spelling Bee Word Lists with definitions, sentences and languages
Young Spellers Spelling Bee Word List for Grades 1 & 2
100 Difficult Spelling Bee Words, Definitions & Sentences My toughest lists, for upper grades and adults!
600 Spelling Bee Words & Sentences for Gr 3/5 & 6/8 Extra words & sentences at two levels