Here's a list of 172 hard words to spell. Look the words over carefully to see how many you already know how to spell. Ask a friend or family member and compare notes. Are the words that are difficult for you, also difficult for the other person? Just what makes these words so difficult anyway? It depends on the word!
On this page, we'll explore several reasons why spelling words can be challenging, and how you can improve your skills. Here's what you'll find:
One reason some of these words are so difficult is that they may be unfamiliar to you. Perhaps you don't know how to pronounce them, and/or you don't know what they mean. This table will acquaint you with 40 of the most difficult hard words to spell. A printable version of this table is also available for your convenience.
Some words on the list of 172 are difficult because of the tricky vowel combinations of EI and IE. These words include achievement, acquiesce, apartheid, boutonniere, chandelier, and many more.
Finish going through this list of 172 words, listing EI/IE words on a sheet of paper. Sort them into two columns, one with the EI words, and the other with the IE words. Study each list separately. Learn the words together as a group. If you can remember the correct spelling of a few of the words in the group, that increases your changes of learning the correct spellings of all the words in the same group!
To learn more of these tricky vowel-combination words, please see my list of 285 difficult spelling words, that also contain EI or IE words.
These words from the list contain silent consonants: apartheid, apocryphal, chamomile, inveigh, jodhpurs, zucchini, and many more. Again, make a list on paper of words with silent consonants. Circle the silent letters, and study these words carefully. For a fun exercise, see this Silent Letter Word Search. Students must add the correct silent letters and then locate the completed words in the puzzle.
When adding certain word endings, or suffixes, it is necessary to double the final consonant of the base word. At other times, the final consonant is not doubled. Sometimes the final e is dropped from the base word. Other times it isn't. From our list of 172 words, please notice these words:
aberrant, abhorrence, achievement, acquisitiveness, questionnaire, and other words of your choice
Write them under four columns on your paper, labeling them "Double," "Don't Double," "Drop the E," "Don't Drop the E."
Label a fifth column for miscellaneous words with simply "Double Consonants." In this final column, you can write mayonnaise, myrrh, whippoorwill, withhold, and others.
Go to this Step-by-Step Lesson for more help in double or not doubling the final consonant in base words when adding suffixes.
For some really tough spelling words, we have a list of 100 Difficult Spelling Words for Spelling Bee Officials. We've included the pronunciation, definition, part of speech, etymology and a sentence for each word. If you're having a serious competition, this list is for you!
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Step-by-Step Lesson - This lesson methodically teaches when to double, and when not to double, the final consonant when adding suffixes.
Step-By-Step Spelling Lesson Plans - Here's a very methodical way to teach, or learn, those tricky IE/EI words. Great for ESL students, upper elementary students, or adults. You can use every step of this lesson, or just the ones that you need. This free printable lesson includes a link to big list of IE/EI words for extra study and practice.
Q: What makes some words so hard to spell?
A : Words may be unfamiliar, contain silent letters, tricky vowel combinations, or double consonants, among other reasons.
Q: Is it possible to improve my spelling skills?
A: Yes! It helps to regularly study challenging word lists, such as the word lists found at www.spelling-words-well.com, and other reputable education websites. Reading good literature and newspapers also improves vocabulary and spelling ability. Get help with pronunciations. word meanings, and languages of origin from www.dictionary.com or hard copy resources. It helps to learn as much about a word as possible while learning to spell it.
student learn difficult words, make sure they know how to use them
correctly. We have lots of fun spelling practice ideas, as
well as spelling word
games and spelling
Be sure to try new ideas and share the ones that work best with other students, parents and teachers.
Ann Richmond Fisher is a longtime published educational writer, a former classroom teacher and a former homeschool teacher. Ann's spelling bee resources, graded spelling word lists, spelling games, worksheets, and other language arts resources have become respected around the globe since she launched Spelling-Words-Well in 2010.
Ann is also the creator of www.word-game-world.com.
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