Improve Your Spelling

Never take your spell checker for granted. I usually have no trouble with spelling, but I’ve noticed my skills gradually deteriorating. Well, I’ve misspelled one too many times; I need to take action!

Introducing the well-known frustrations of the English language, this article explains How Spelling Got to Be So Difficult.

Now, for an overview, here are Some Rules and Suggestions About Spelling. This article doesn’t cover everything, but it’s the most complete one I’ve found.

Spelling Tips and Rules

Pronunciation and Spelling

First of all, notice that many common spelling errors result from pronouncing a word incorrectly. AskOxford has some tips on spelling words with Unstressed Syllables. For other common mistakes, see this list of The Most Often Mispronounced Words in English.

So, either pronounce the word correctly or remember an exaggerated pronunciation; for example, I hear “BEE-AY-YOU-tiful” in my head whenever I write “beautiful” – a habit left over from third grade.

Just Plain Annoying Words

AskOxford – my hero! – points out some common causes of misspellings.

Words That Change Their Spelling

With so many exceptions and so few rules, English complicates even the simplest of words. Why is food edible and water drinkable? Well, I found the answer! (See the first link.)

Lists of Problem Words

Commonly Misspelled Words


Spelling Practice

Keep a list of your own commonly misspelled words. (See my list.) For tips to remember the correct spelling, see Improve Your Vocabulary - Remember New Words.

Spelling Quizzes

  • A Spelling Test - choose the correct spelling of 50 commonly misspelled words.

American Vs. British Spelling


Studying a word’s origins will also help you remember its spelling. This article lists many, many examples: Sounds and Spelling in English Words: Some Correspondences with Language of Origin.

For more etymology links (dictionaries, articles, podcasts, and quizzes), see my post on English Etymology Resources.