Update: 2009-05-24 06:50 PM +0800

TIL

TIL English Grammar

12. Spelling

c12Spell.htm

A compilation by U Kyaw Tun and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ). Not for sale.

In the United States, periods and commas go inside quotation marks regardless of logic.
In the United Kingdom, Canada, and islands under the influence of British education, punctuation around quotation marks is more apt to follow logic. In American style, then, you would write: My favorite poem is Robert Frost's "Design." But in England you would write: My favorite poem is Robert Frost's "Design".

 

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Spell checkers will catch some kinds of errors, but not all. For example, they tend to miss homonyms -- words which are pronounced the same way but spelled differently, such as site/ sight, there/ their/ they're, and its/ it's. Most spell-checkers, for example, would report no error in the following sentence, despite the fact that there are three serious spelling mistakes:

Their looking for a new sight when the gopher can build it's home.

The joint influence of British and American spelling on Canadian usage has provided an additional challenge to Canadian students: Canadians tend to follow standard British spelling for certain words (axe, cheque), to follow American spelling for others (connection, tire), and to allow either for yet more (programme/ program, labour/ labor, neighbour/ neighbor). The important thing to remember is to be consistent in usage and to follow a regular pattern when you spell. Don't mix neighbour with labor, for example. Choose one or the other pattern, and follow it closely. The best way to avoid problems with mixed British and American spelling is to keep a dictionary handy that shows Canadian usage.

Although spelling correctly is largely a matter of practice and the common-sense use of reference materials, there are four standard spelling rules. Although each has exceptions, if you study these rules carefully, you will be able to avoid most common errors, even without a spell-checker.

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Contents of this page

1201. Spelling words with "ei" and "ie"
1202. Spelling final "y" before a suffix
1203. Final Silent "e"
1204. Spelling Words with Double Consonants
1251. Review: "ei" and "ie"
1252: Review: Final "y" before a suffix
1253: Review: Final Silent "e"
1254: Review: Double Consonants
 

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1201. Spelling words with "ei" and "ie"

When the sound is a long "e" (as in feed), write "i" before "e", except after "c". After "c" reverse the spelling ("ei"):

After other letters
     believe, yield, reprieve
After c
     ceiling, perceive, conceit

The problem with this rule is that it works only when "ei" / "ie" sounds like the "ee" in feet. If it has any other sound, you should write "ei" even after letters other than "c":

     foreign, vein, freight

Editor's note: This rule is for words that rhyme with "feet". There are three similar sounds in Bamah (written in RomaBama): e. / e / e: / Examples in Bamah:
te.
as in tha te. - meaning 'presence of mind';
te - meaning 'earthworm';
te:
as in te: mhoat - meaning `to play musical instrument'.

To apply this rule effectively Myanmars should also note that the English "c" is pronounced in two ways:
as Myanmar ka. in cat
as Myanmar sa. in ceiling.

Margaret Elliot wrote (personal communication):
"One of the few things I remember from my elementary school days was the rule : 'i' before 'e' except after 'c'. I suppose the teacher said something about the 'long e' sound, but for a native speaker it's not a problem."

Editor's note: This rule depends on pronunciation: from pronunciation you derive at the spelling. Since Myanmar students have problems with pronunciation itself, this rule is useless for them. However, you can still use the rule backwards: learn the spelling and derive the pronunciation.

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1202. Spelling final "y" before a suffix

When a word ends in "y" preceded by a consonant, you should usually change the "y" to "i" before adding the suffix:
     curly becomes curlier
     party becomes parties
     thirty becomes thirties, thirtieth

However, if the suffix already begins with "i", keep the "y" (except before the suffix "-ize"):
     thirty becomes thirtyish
     fry becomes frying
     agony becomes agonize
     memory becomes memorize

When the ending "y" is preceded by a vowel ("a" "e" "i" "o" or "u"), "y" does not change to "i":
     journey becomes journeying
     trolley becomes trolleys

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1203. Final Silent "e"

If a word ends in a consonant followed by a silent "e", drop the "e" before endings beginning with a vowel, but keep the "e" before endings beginning with a consonant:
     engage becomes engaging but engagement
     care becomes caring but careful
     fate becomes fatal but fateful
     scarce becomes scarcity but scarcely

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1204. Spelling Words with Double Consonants

Double the final consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel if both of the following are true: the consonant ends a stressed syllable or a one-syllable word, and the consonant is preceded by a single vowel:
     drag becomes dragged
     wet becomes wetter
     occur becomes occurred, occurring
     refer becomes referral, referring

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1251. Review: "ei" and "ie"

Choose the proper spelling of the following words.

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      greif  or  grief

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      conceit  or  conciet

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      counterfiet  or  counterfeit

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      heir  or  hier

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      niece  or  neice


Answers to Review questions:

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      greif  or  grief
Answer
: The answer grief is correct.
Explanation: Write "i" before "e" . . .

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      conceit  or  conciet
Answer
: The answer conceit is correct.
Explanation: . . . except after "c".

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      counterfiet  or  counterfeit
Answer
: The answer counterfeit is correct.
Explanation: The "ei" / "ie" sound does not rhyme with "ee" in feet, so you should always write it as "ei".

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      heir  or  hier
Answer: The answer heir is correct.
Explanation: The "ei" / "ie" sound does not rhyme with "ee" in feet, so you should always write it as "ei".

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      niece  or  neice
Answer: The answer niece is correct.
Explanation: Write "i" before "e", except after "c". In this case, the sound does rhyme with the "ee" in feet, so the rule applies.

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1252. Review: final "y" before a suffix

Choose the proper form of the following words.

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      applying  or appliing

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      defyance  or defiance

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      studying  or studing

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      easyer  or  easier

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      worryer  or worrier


Answers to Review Questions:

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      applying  or appliing
Answer: The answer applying is correct.
Explanation: The final "y" in apply should remain, because the suffix "-ing already begins with "i".

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      defyance  or defiance
Answer: The answer defiance is correct.
Explanation: The final "y" in defy should change to "i" before the suffix "-ance".

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      studying  or studing
Answer: The answer studying is correct.
Explanation: Since the suffix "-ing" already begins with "i", you should keep the "y" at the end of study.

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      easyer  or  easier
Answer: The answer easier is correct.

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      worryer  or worrier
Answer: The answer worrier is correct.

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1253. Review: Final Silent "e"

Choose the correct form of the following words.

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      safely  or  safly

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      argueing  or arguing

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      guideance  or  guidance

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      excitement  or excitment

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      hopeful  or  hopful


Answers to Review Questions:

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      safely  or  safly
Answer: The answer safely is correct.

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      argueing  or arguing
Answer: The answer arguing is correct.

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      guideance  or  guidance
Answer: The answer guidance is correct.

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      excitement  or excitment
Answer: The answer excitement is correct.

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      hopeful  or  hopful
Answer: The answer hopeful is correct.

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1254. Review: Double Consonants

Choose correct "-ed" form and "-ing" form of the following words.

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      admit ("-ed" form):  admited  or admitted

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      admit ("-ing" form):  admiting  or  admitting

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      stop ("-ing" form):  stoping  or  stopping

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      stop ("-ed" form):  stoped  or  stopped

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      rob ("-ing" form):  robbing  or  robing

06. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      rob ("-ed" form):  robed  or  robbed

07. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      return ("-ing" form):  returnning  or  returning

08. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      return ("-ed" form):  returnned  or  returned

09. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      unwrap ("-ing" form):  unwrapping  or  unwraping

10. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      unwrap ("-ed" form):  unwrapped  or  unwraped


Answers to Review questions

01. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      admit ("-ed" form):  admited  or admitted
Answer: The answer admitted is correct.

02. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      admit ("-ing" form):  admiting  or  admitting
Answer: The answer admitting is correct.

03. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      stop ("-ing" form):  stoping  or  stopping
Answer: The answer stopping is correct.

04. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      stop ("-ed" form):  stoped  or  stopped
Answer: The answer stopped is correct.

05. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      rob ("-ing" form):  robbing  or  robing
Answer: The answer robbing is correct.

06. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      rob ("-ed" form):  robed  or  robbed
Answer: The answer robbed is correct.

07. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      return ("-ing" form):  returnning  or  returning
Answer: The answer returning is correct.

08. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      return ("-ed" form):  returnned  or  returned
Answer: The answer returned is correct.

09. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      unwrap ("-ing" form):  unwrapping  or  unwraping
Answer: The answer unwrapping is correct.

10. Question: Which of the following is correct?
      unwrap ("-ed" form):  unwrapped  or  unwraped
Answer: The answer unwrapped is correct.

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End of TIL file