English spelling

Sourav Banerjee MA,MSW (Shabda Bramha) (8842 Points)

07 March 2012  



                 English spelling is often called an ‘Unholy Muddle’. Celebrated German Philologist and Orientalist, Max Mueller called it ‘a national misfortune’ as he found the discrepancies in spelling English – unintelligible, unhistorical and un-teachable. The great man was right, because there is not a single rule that does not have its exception !!!

                 Still, I’m on my way to share the rules of spelling English – the same rules that have stood me in good stead over the years with you, ( Except on a few occasions smiley), –  Dear Friends.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” indecision



Rule 1 : Using I Before E


Except after c,


When sounded as "a" as in "neighbor" and "weigh."

EXAMPLES: believe, chief, piece, receive.

COMMON EXCEPTIONS: efficient, ancient, foreign.


Rule 2 : Dropping the Final E

Drop the final e before a suffix beginning with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) but not before a suffix beginning with a consonant.


ride + ing = riding
guide + ance = guidance
hope + ing = hoping

entire + ly = entirely
like + ness = likeness
arrange + ment = arrangement


COMMON EXCEPTIONS: truly, noticeable

Rule 3: Changing a Final Y to I

Change a final y to i before a suffix, unless the suffix begins with i.

defy + ance = defiance
party + es = parties
pity + ful = pitiful
try + es = tries
try + ing = trying
copy + ing = copying
occupy + ing = occupying


Rule 4 : Doubling a Final Consonant

One syllable word ending in a single consonant preceded by a vowel = Last consonant of the main word will be DOUBLED if suffix begins with a vowel.

Example: Run + er = Runner

BUT ……….. The above rule does not apply if

  • There are two vowels or two consonants in the main word

              Ex : Fooled ( NOT Foolled )


  • If the main word ends in a vowel , as for example :



I know that learned members here are quite aware of the existence of these rules. Yet I have shared the same, because I have felt that at times going back to the basics helps.