English spelling is not easy to learn. There are some rules but often there are many exceptions to the rule. Some spell- ings and pronunciation appear to be illogical. It is therefore important that certain spellings are learnt. This article speaks on the effective ways to deal with grammar in writing skills.
There are twenty-six letters in our alphabet. Five are vowels and the rest are consonants. The vowels are A, E, I, O, U. All words have to contain at least one vowel. (‘Y’ is considered to be a vowel in words like ‘rhythm’ and ‘psychology’). Consonants are all the other letters that are not vowels. So that a word can be pronounced easily, vowels are placed between consonants. No more than three con- sonants can be placed together. Below are two lists. The first contains words with three consecutive consonants and in the second are words with two consecutive consonants. The sets of consonants are separated by vowels:
- Christian, chronic, school, scream, splash, through.
- add, baggage, commander, flap, grab, occasion.
To form a plural word an ‘s’ is usually added to a noun. But there are some exceptions.
Changing ‘y’ to ‘i’
If a noun ends in ‘y’, and there is a consonant before it, a plural is formed by changing the ‘y’ into an ‘i’ and adding ‘-es’:
berry – berries
company – companies
lady – ladies
nappy – nappies
If the ‘y’ is preceded by another vowel, an ‘s’ only is added:
covey – coveys
monkey – monkeys
donkey – donkeys
Adding ‘es’ or ‘s’
If a noun ends in ‘o’ and a consonant precedes the ‘o’, ‘-es’ is added to form a plural:
hero – heroes
potato – potatoes
tomato – tomatoes
If there is a vowel before the ‘o’, an ‘s’ only is added:
patio – patios
studio – studios
zoo – zoos
It would be
difficult to add an ‘s’ only to some words because it would be impossible to
pronounce them. These are words that end in ‘ch’, ‘sh’, ‘s’, ‘x’ and ‘z’. In
this case an ‘e’ has to be added before the
brush – brushes
buzz – buzzes
church – churches
duchess – duchesses
fox – foxes
Changing the form of a verb
When a verb ends in ‘y’ and it is necessary to change the tense by adding other letters, the ‘y’ is changed into an ‘i’ and ‘es’ or ‘ed’ is added.
He will marry her tomorrow. He was married yesterday.
A dog likes to bury his bone. A dog always buries his bone.
Using ‘long’ vowels and ‘short’ vowels
There is often a silent ‘e’ at the end of the word if the vowel is ‘long’:
bite, date, dupe, hope, late.
Each of these words consists of one syllable (one unit of sound). If another syllable is added, the ‘e’ is removed:
bite – biting
date – dating
hope – hoping
If there is no ‘e’ at the end of a word, the vowel is usually ‘short’:
bit, hop, let
If a second syllable is added to these words, the consonant is usually doubled:
bit – bitten
hop – hopping
let – letting
There are, of course, some exceptions. If the ‘e’ is preceded by a ‘g’ or a ‘c’, the ‘e’ is usually retained. To remove it would produce a ‘hard’ sound instead of a ‘soft’ one:
age – ageing marriage – marriageable service – serviceable
Adding ‘-ly’ to adjectives
When forming an adverb from an adjective, ‘ly’ (not ‘ley’) is added. If there is a ‘y’ at the end of the adjective, it must be changed to an ‘i’:
If a word ends in ‘ic’, ‘-ally’ is added to it:
enthusiastic – enthusiastically
‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’
This rule seems to have been made to be broken. Some words keep to it but others break it. Here are some that follow the rule. All of them are pronounced ‘ee’ – as in ‘seed’.
no ‘C’ in front after ‘C’
Exceptions to this rule are:
either, neighbours, vein, neither, seize, weird
Because some words do not follow any rules, there are many words in the English language that are frequently misspelled. These words have to be learnt. This article speaks on the effective ways to deal with grammar in writing skills. Following is a list of the most common:
doubt eerie eight eighth embarrass empty encyclopaedia envelope exaggerate exceed except exercise excitement exhaust exhibition existence familiar February fierce first foreigner forty fortunately frightening fulfil government glamorous gradually grammar grief guard haemorrhage
haemorrhoids harass height honorary
humorous idea idle idol
immediately independent island jewellery journey khaki knowledge label laboratory labyrinth lacquer language league leisure liaison lightning lonely lovely maintenance massacre metaphor miniature miscellaneous mischievous miserably misspell museum necessary neighbour neither niece ninth
noticeable occasion occur occurred occurrence omit opportunity opposite paid paraffin parallel particularly playwright possess precede precious preparation procedure preferred privilege
probably profession professor pronunciation pursue questionnaire queue receipt receive recognise restaurant rhyme rhythm said schedule science scissors secretary separate sergeant similar simile sincerely skilful spaghetti smoky strength subtle succeed surprise suppress temporary thief though tragedy tried
truly unnecessary until usage
usual vacuum vehicle vigorous vicious wavy Wednesday watch weird woollen womb yield
Looking at homophones
Some words that are pronounced in the same way are spelt differently and have different meanings. They are called homophones. Here are some examples:
|aisle||passage between seats||isle||land surrounded by|
|altar||table at end of church||alter||change|
|bark||sound dog makes||barque||sailing ship|
|covering of tree trunk|
|bow||to bend head||bough||branch of tree|
|bread||food made from flour||bred||past tense of breed|
|by||at side of something||buy||purchase|
|bye||a run in cricket|
|awarded by umpire|
|caught||past tense of ‘catch’||court||space enclosed by|
|cent||monetary unit||sent||past tense of ‘send’|
|check||sudden stop||cheque||written order to bank|
|to inspect||to pay money|
|council||an administrative body||counsel||to give advice|
|current||water or air moving in||currant||dried fruit|
|a particular direction|
|ewe||female sheep||yew||a tree|
|faint||become unconscious||feint||to make a|
|herd||a group of cattle||heard||past tense of ‘hear’|
|here||in this place||hear||to be aware of sound|
|hole||a cavity||whole||something complete|
|idle||lazy||idol||object of worship|
|know||to have knowledge||no||opposite of yes|
|passed||past tense of ‘pass’||past||time gone by|
|to pass by|
|peace||freedom from war||piece||a portion|
|peal||a ring of bells||peel||rind of fruit|
|place||particular area||plaice||a fish|
|poor||opposite of rich||pore||tiny opening in skin|
|pour||tip liquid out of|
|quay||landing place for ships||key||implement for locking|
|rain||water from clouds||reign||monarch’s rule|
|rein||lead for controlling|
|sail||sheet of material on||sale||noun from the verb|
|a ship||‘to sell’|
|to travel on water|
|sea||expanse of salt water||see||to have sight of|
|seam||place where two pieces||seem||to appear to be|
|of material are joined|
|sew||stitches made by||sow||to plant seeds|
|needle and thread||so||indicating extent of|
|underneath of foot|
|some||a particular group||sum||the total|
|son||male offspring||sun||source of light|
|stake||wooden stave||steak||cooked meat|
|piece of music|
|tail||end of animal||tale||story|
|threw||hurled||through||pass into one side and|
|out of the other|
|tire||to become weary||tyre||rubber covering on a|
to in direction of too as well or excessively
two the number
vain conceited vein vessel in body for carrying blood
waist middle part of body waste rubbish or
weather atmospheric conditions whether introduces an
Checking more homophones
‘Their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’
‘Their’ is a possessive adjective. It is placed before the noun to show ownership:
That is their land.
‘There’ is an adverb of place indicating where something is:
There is the house on stilts.
‘They’re’ is an abbreviation of ‘they are’. The ‘a’ has been replaced with an apostrophe:
They’re emigrating to Australia.
‘Were’, ‘where’ and ‘wear’
‘Were’ is the past tense of the verb ‘to be’: They were very happy to be in England.
‘Where’ is an adverb of place:
Where is your passport?
‘Wear’ is the present tense of the verb ‘to wear’:
The Chelsea Pensioners wear their uniform with pride.
‘Whose’ or ‘who’s’
‘Whose’ is a relative pronoun which is usually linked to a noun:
This is the boy whose father owns the Indian restaurant. ‘Who’s’ is an abbreviation of ‘who is’:
Who’s your favourite football player?
‘Your’ and ‘you’re’
‘Your’ is a possessive adjective and is followed by a noun. It indicates possession:
Your trainers are filthy.
‘You’re’ is an abbreviation for ‘you are’:
You’re not allowed to walk over that field.
Some words have the same spelling but can have different meanings. This will usually depend on the context. The pronun- ciation can also change.
This article speaks on the effective ways to deal with grammar in writing skills. These words are called homonyms.
|bow||a tied ribbon or||bow to incline the head|
|(noun)||part of a violin||(verb)|
|calf||the fleshy part of the||calf a young cow|
|leg below the knee|
|refuse||rubbish||refuse||to show obstinacy|
|row||a line or an argument||row||to argue angrily|
|(noun)||(verb)||to propel a boat|
|train||a mode of transport||train||to instruct or teach|
|(noun)||long piece of material||(verb)|
|attached to the hem|
|of a dress|
Checking your spelling
Use a dictionary frequently to check your spelling. Don’t guess the spelling of a word. Look it up. It is helpful to keep a list of words that you have misspelled so you can learn them.
Looking at words
A dictionary not only tells you how to spell a word. It also tells you what part of speech the word is. Sometimes the word appears more than once as it has different meanings and can be used as a different part of speech.
This article speaks on the effective ways to deal with grammar in writing skills. Look at the following examples:
|land (noun) land (verb)||(a) (b) (c)||the solid part of the earth a country to go ashore or bring a plane down to the ground|
|fast (verb)||(a)||abstain from eating|
|fast (noun)||(b)||the act of going without food|
|fast (adjective)||(c)||firmly attached|
Letters after the word identify the part of speech:
n. = noun a. = adjective adv. = adverb v. = verb The verb is often followed by ‘t’ or ‘i’:
- ‘v.t.’ stands for verb transitive. A transitive verb takes an object.
He wrote a letter. (The object of the verb ‘wrote’ is the noun, ‘letter’.)
- ‘v.i.’ stands for verb intransitive. This means that the verb does not take an object.
She writes beautifully. (There is no object.)
Many verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively – as in the above examples. In this case the verb will be followed by v.i & t.
The dictionary will often give the derivation of a word. English is a rich language that owes much to other languages. Some words like ‘rendezvous’ are obviously French and have been kept in their original forms. Others like ‘galley’ have been adapted from several languages. This article speaks on the effective ways to deal with grammar in writing skills.
If you have
time, browse through a dictionary looking at the derivation of some of our
words. It can be a fascinating and rewarding experience.
A thesaurus can also be very useful. It will help you to find an alternative word (synonym) for a word that you have used too much. Words are shown alphabetically and beside each will be a list of words that could replace the word you want to lose. Of course, not all the synonyms will be suitable. It will depend on the context.
Adding to your vocabulary
Using a thesaurus is an excellent way of adding to your vocabulary. It is useful to keep a list of words that you have found so that you can use them again and in this way increase your knowledge. Here is a list of synonyms that could be used instead of the overworked adjective ‘nice’:
agreeable, attractive, delicious, delightful, enjoyable, pleasant, pleasing
This is the most famous thesaurus; it has two main sections. The second part lists words alphabetically and identifies the parts of speech. After the words are numbers. These refer to the first part where the synonyms for the different parts of speech will be given.
There are many
smaller versions including pocket ones and these can be found in most
- Double the consonant after a short vowel sound when adding more letters.
- Learn commonly misspelt words.
- ◆ Use a dictionary to check spelling and find the meaning of words.
- Use a thesaurus to widen your vocabulary.
- What is the plural form of the following words?
lady, company, monkey, tomato, boa, princess, dance
- Add ‘-ing’ to the following words:
dine, live, hit, hop, skip, write, mate, mine
- Form adverbs from the following adjectives:
happy, joyful, kind, angry, wonderful, clear, quick, careless
- Correct the following sentences:
- I no you are their.
- I can sea to ships on the see.
- Did you now there house is too be sold?
- Hear is you’re packed lunch.
- Their is a whole in your jacket.
- You can go to London two.
- The teacher kept in the hole class.
- The violinist took a bough.
- Because of the wind, the bow of the tree broke.
- She past threw the crowd.
- He through the ball.
- Know milk was left today.
- In the following passage fill in the missing words:
. . . were no ships on the . . . that morning. She could . . . the white foam as the waves crashed on the shore. She would . . . when . . . car arrived as it would drive . . . the gate. Idly, she . . . a stone into the . . . . The . . . of the trees on the cliff . . . swaying in the wind. It was . . . cold
. . . sit still. Kicking off her sandals, she noticed she had
. . . holes in her socks. She had intended to . . . her new ones. Her hair ribbon had also come undone and crossly she tied it in a . . . and stood up, holding her shoes. . . .
she could the car.
- What do the following letters stand for?
n. v.t. v.i. a. adv.
- Find synonyms for the underlined words in the following passage:
It was a nice day so the children decided to have a picnic. They walked along the cliff path and climbed down to the beach. The waves crashed on the shore as they ate their pleasant lunch. This article speaks on the effective ways to deal with grammar in writing skills.
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