Most people read words more accurately than they spell them.

The younger pupils are, the truer this is. By the end of year 1, pupils should be able to read a large number of different words whether or not they have seen these words before.

Spelling, however, is a very different matter. Once pupils have learnt more than one way of spelling particular sounds, choosing the right letter or letters depends on their either having made a conscious effort to learn the words or having absorbed them less consciously through their reading.

Outlined below, are the statutory requirements for each group. In Key Stage 1, these will be continually underpinned by the systematic teaching of phonics. Each year, previous knowledge and learning will always be recapped so that it is firmly embedded.

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Statutory Requirement Rules and Guidance Example words
The sounds /f/, /l/, /s/, /z/ and /k/ spelt ff, ll, ss, zz and ck The /f/, /l/, /s/, /z/ and /k/ sounds are usually spelt as ff, ll, ss, zz and ck if they come straight after a single vowel letter in short words. Exceptions: if, pal, us, bus, yes. off, well, miss, buzz, back
off, well, miss, buzz, back off, well, miss, buzz, back
Division of words into syllables Each syllable is like a ‘beat’ in the spoken word. Words of more than one syllable often have an unstressed syllable in which the vowel sound is unclear. pocket, rabbit, carrot, thunder, sunset
-tch The /tʃ/ sound is usually spelt as tch if it comes straight after a single vowel letter. Exceptions: rich, which, much, such. catch, fetch, kitchen, notch, hutch
The /v/ sound at the end of words English words hardly ever end with the letter v, so if a word ends with a /v/ sound, the letter e usually needs to be added after the ‘v’. have, live, give
If the ending sounds like /s/ or /z/, it is spelt as –s. If the ending sounds like /ɪz/ and forms an extra syllable or ‘beat’ in the word, it is spelt as –es. cats, dogs, spends, rocks, thanks, catches
Adding the endings –ing, –ed and –er to verbs where no change is needed to the root word –ing and –er always add an extra syllable to the word and –ed sometimes does. The past tense of some verbs may sound as if it ends in /ɪd/ (extra syllable), /d/ or /t/ (no extra syllable), but all these endings are spelt –ed. If the verb ends in two consonant letters (the same or different), the ending is simply added on. hunting, hunted, hunter, buzzing, buzzed, buzzer, jumping, jumped, jumper
Adding –er and –est to adjectives where no change is needed to the root word As with verbs (see above), if the adjective ends in two consonant letters (the same or different), the ending is simply added on. grander, grandest, fresher, freshest, quicker, quickest
Words ending –y (/i:/ or /ɪ/) very, happy, funny, party, family
New consonant spellings ph and wh The /f/ sound is not usually spelt as ph in short everyday words (e.g. fat, fill, fun). dolphin, alphabet, phonics, elephant when, where, which, wheel, while
Using k for the /k/ sound The /k/ sound is spelt as k rather than as c before e, i and y. Kent, sketch, kit, skin, frisky
Adding the prefix –un The prefix un– is added to the beginning of a word without any change to the spelling of the root word. unhappy, undo, unload, unfair, unlock
Compound words Compound words are two words joined together. Each part of the longer word is spelt as it would be if it were on its own. football, playground, farmyard, bedroom, blackberry
Common exception words Pupils’ attention should be drawn to the grapheme- phoneme correspondences that do and do not fit in with what has been taught so far. the, a, do, to, today, of, said, says, are, were, was, is, his, has, I, you, your, they, be, he, me, she, we, no, go, so, by, my, here, there, where, love, come, some, one, once, ask, friend, school, put, push, pull, full, house, our – and/or others, according to the programme used
Statutory Requirement Rules and Guidance Example words
The /dʒ/ sound spelt as ge and dge at the end of words, and sometimes spelt as g elsewhere in words before e, i and y The letter j is never used for the /dʒ/ sound at the end of English words. At the end of a word, the /dʒ/ sound is spelt –dge straight after the /æ/, /ɛ/, /ɪ/, /ɒ/, /ʌ/ and /ʊ/ sounds (sometimes called ‘short’ vowels). After all other sounds, whether vowels or consonants, the /dʒ/ sound is spelt as –ge at the end of a word. In other positions in words, the /dʒ/ sound is often (but not always) spelt as g before e, i, and y. The /dʒ/ sound is always spelt as j before a, o and u. badge, edge, bridge, dodge, fudge age, huge, change, charge, bulge, village gem, giant, magic, giraffe, energy jacket, jar, jog, join, adjust
The /s/ sound spelt c before e, i and y race, ice, cell, city, fancy
The /n/ sound spelt kn and (less often) gn at the beginning of words The ‘k’ and ‘g’ at the beginning of these words was sounded hundreds of years ago. knock, know, knee, gnat, gnaw
The /r/ sound spelt wr at the beginning of words This spelling probably also reflects an old pronunciation. write, written, wrote, wrong, wrap
The /l/ or /əl/ sound spelt –le at the end of words The –le spelling is the most common spelling for this sound at the end of words. table, apple, bottle, little, middle
The /l/ or /əl/ sound spelt –el at the end of words The –el spelling is much less common than –le. The –el spelling is used after m, n, r, s, v, w and more often than not after s. camel, tunnel, squirrel, travel, towel, tinsel
The /l/ or /əl/ sound spelt –al at the end of words Not many nouns end in –al, but many adjectives do metal, pedal, capital, hospital, animal
Words ending –il There are not many of these words. pencil, fossil, nostril
The /aɪ/ sound spelt –y at the end of words This is by far the most common spelling for this sound at the end of words. cry, fly, dry, try, reply, July
Adding –es to nouns and verbs ending in –y The y is changed to i before –es is added. flies, tries, replies, copies, babies, carries
Adding the endings – ing, –ed, –er, –est and –y to words ending in –e with a consonant before it The –e at the end of the root word is dropped before –ing, –ed, –er, –est, –y or any other suffix beginning with a vowel letter is added. Exception: being hiking, hiked, hiker, nicer, nicest, shiny
Adding –ing, –ed, –er, –est and –y to words of one syllable ending in a single consonant letter after a single vowel letter The last consonant letter of the root word is doubled to keep the /æ/, /ɛ/, /ɪ/, /ɒ/ and /ʌ/ sound (i.e. to keep the vowel ‘short’). Exception: The letter ‘x’ is never doubled: mixing, mixed, boxer, sixes. patting, patted, humming, hummed, dropping, dropped, sadder, saddest, fatter, fattest, runner, runny
The /ɔ:/ sound spelt a before l and ll The /ɔ:/ sound (‘or’) is usually spelt as a before l and ll. all, ball, call, walk, talk, always
Adding –ed, –ing, –er and –est to a root word ending in –y with a consonant before it The y is changed to i before –ed, –er and –est are added, but not before – ing as this would result in ii. The only ordinary words with ii are skiing and taxiing copied, copier, happier, happiest, cried, replied ...but copying, crying, replying
The /ʌ/ sound spelt o other, mother, brother, nothing, Monday
The /i:/ sound spelt –ey The plural of these words is formed by the addition of –s (donkeys, monkeys, etc.). key, donkey, monkey, chimney, valley
key, donkey, monkey, chimney, valley a is the most common spelling for the /ɒ/ (‘hot’) sound after w and qu. want, watch, wander, quantity, squash
The /ɜ:/ sound spelt or after w There are not many of these words. word, work, worm, world, worth
The /ɔ:/ sound spelt ar after w There are not many of these words. war, warm, towards
The /ʒ/ sound spelt s television, treasure, usual
The suffixes –ment, –ness, –ful , –less and –ly If a suffix starts with a consonant letter, it is added straight on to most root words without any change to the last letter of those words. Exceptions: (1) argument (2) root words ending in –y with a consonant before it but only if the root word has more than one syllable enjoyment, sadness, careful, playful, hopeless, plainness (plain + ness), badly merriment, happiness, plentiful, penniless, happily
Contractions n contractions, the apostrophe shows where a letter or letters would be if the words were written in full (e.g. can’t – cannot). It’s means it is (e.g. It’s raining) or sometimes it has (e.g. It’s been raining), but it’s is never used for the possessive. can’t, didn’t, hasn’t, couldn’t, it’s, I’ll
The possessive apostrophe (singular nouns) Megan’s, Ravi’s, the girl’s, the child’s, the man’s
Words ending in –tion station, fiction, motion, national, section
Homophones and near-homophones It is important to know the difference in meaning between homophones there/their/they’re, here/hear, quite/quiet, see/sea, bare/bear, on e/won, sun/son, to/too/two, be/bee, blue/blew, night/knight
Common exception words Some words are exceptions in some accents but not in others – e.g. past, last, fast, path and bath are not exceptions in accents where the a in these words is pronounced /æ/, as in cat. Great, break and steak are the only common words where the /eɪ/ sound is spelt ea. door, floor, poor, because, find, kind, mind, behind, child, children*, wild, climb, most, only, both, old, cold, gold, hold, told, every, everybody, even, great, break, steak, pretty, beautiful, after, fast, last, past, father, class, grass, pass, plant, path, bath, hour, move, prove, improve, sure, sugar, eye, could, should, would, who, whole, any, many, clothes, busy, people, water, again, half, money, Mr, Mrs, parents, Christmas – and/or others according to programme used. Note: ‘children’ is not an exception to what has been taught so far but is included because of its relationship with ‘child’.
Statutory Requirement Rules and Guidance Example words
Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words of more than one syllable If the last syllable of a word is stressed and ends with one consonant letter which has just one vowel letter before it, the final consonant letter is doubled before any ending beginning with a vowel letter is added. The consonant letter is not doubled if the syllable is unstressed. forgetting, forgotten, beginning, beginner, prefer, preferred gardening, gardener, limiting, limited, limitation
The /ɪ/ sound spelt y elsewhere than at the end of words These words should be learnt as needed. myth, gym, Egypt, pyramid, mystery
The /ʌ/ sound spelt ou These words should be learnt as needed. young, touch, double, trouble, country
More prefixes Most prefixes are added to the beginning of root words without any changes in spelling, but see in– below. Like un–, the prefixes dis– and mis– have negative meanings. The prefix in– can mean both ‘not’ and ‘in’/‘into’. In the words given here it means ‘not’. Before a root word starting with l, in– becomes il. Before a root word starting with m or p, in– becomes im–. Before a root word starting with r, in– becomes ir–. re– means ‘again’ or ‘back’. sub– means ‘under’. inter– means ‘between’ or ‘among’. super– means ‘above’. anti– means ‘against’. auto– means ‘self’ or ‘own’. dis–: disappoint, disagree, disobey mis–: misbehave, mislead, misspell (mis + spell) in–: inactive, incorrect illegal, illegible immature, immortal, impossible, impatient, imperfect irregular, irrelevant, irresponsible re–: redo, refresh, return, reappear, redecorate sub–: subdivide, subheading, submarine, submerge inter–: interact, intercity, international, interrelated (inter + related) super–: supermarket, superman, superstar anti–: antiseptic, anti- clockwise, antisocial auto–: autobiography, autograph
The suffix –ation The suffix –ation is added to verbs to form nouns. The rules already learnt still apply. information, adoration, sensation, preparation, admiration
The suffix –ly The suffix –ly is added to an adjective to form an adverb. The rules already learnt still apply. The suffix –ly starts with a consonant letter, so it is added straight on to most root words. Exceptions: (1) If the root word ends in –y with a consonant letter before it, the y is changed to i, but only if the root word has more than one syllable. (2) If the root word ends with –le, the –le is changed to –ly. (3) If the root word ends with –ic, –ally is added rather than just –ly, except in the word publicly. (4) The words truly, duly, wholly. sadly, completely, usually (usual + ly), finally (final + ly), comically (comical + ly) happily, angrily gently, simply, humbly, nobly basically, frantically, dramatically
Words with endings sounding like /ʒə/ or /tʃə/ The ending sounding like /ʒə/ is always spelt –sure. The ending sounding like /tʃə/ is often spelt –ture, but check that the word is not a root word ending in (t)ch with an er ending – e.g. teacher, catcher, richer, stretcher. measure, treasure, pleasure, enclosure creature, furniture, picture, nature, adventure
Endings which sound like /ʒən/ If the ending sounds like /ʒən/, it is spelt as –sion. division, invasion, confusion, decision, collision, television
The suffix –ous Sometimes the root word is obvious and the usual rules apply for adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters. Sometimes there is no obvious root word. –our is changed to –or before –ous is added. A final ‘e’ of the root word must be kept if the /dʒ/ sound of ‘g’ is to be kept. If there is an /i:/ sound before the –ous ending, it is usually spelt as i, but a few words have e. poisonous, dangerous, mountainous, famous, various tremendous, enormous, jealous humorous, glamorous, vigorous courageous, outrageous serious, obvious, curious hideous, spontaneous, courteous
Endings which sound like /ʃən/, spelt –tion, –sion, –ssion, –cian Strictly speaking, the suffixes are – ion and –ian. Clues about whether to put t, s, ss or c before these suffixes often come from the last letter or letters of the root word. –tion is the most common spelling. It is used if the root word ends in t or te. –ssion is used if the root word ends in ss or –mit. –sion is used if the root word ends in d or se. Exceptions: attend – attention, intend – intention. –cian is used if the root word ends in c or cs. invention, injection, action, hesitation, completion expression, discussion, confession, permission, admission expansion, extension, comprehension, tension musician, electrician, magician, politician, mathematician
Words with the /k/ sound spelt ch (Greek in origin) scheme, chorus, chemist, echo, character
Words with the /ʃ/ sound spelt ch (mostly French in origin) chef, chalet, machine, brochure
Words ending with the /g/ sound spelt – gue and the /k/ sound spelt –que (French in origin) league, tongue, antique, unique
Words with the /s/ sound spelt sc (Latin in origin) In the Latin words from which these words come, the Romans probably pronounced the c and the k as two sounds rather than one – /s/ /k/. science, scene, discipline, fascinate, crescent
Words with the /eɪ/ sound spelt ei, eigh, or ey vein, weigh, eight, neighbour, they, obey
Possessive apostrophe with plural words The apostrophe is placed after the plural form of the word; –s is not added if the plural already ends in –s, but is added if the plural does not end in –s (i.e. is an irregular plural – e.g. children’s). girls’, boys’, babies’, children’s, men’s, mice’s (Note: singular proper nouns ending in an s use the ’s suffix e.g. Cyprus’s population)
Homophones and near-homophones accept/except, affect/effect, ball/bawl, berry/bury, brake/break, fair/fare, grate/great, groan/grown, here/hear, heel/heal/he’ll, knot/not, mail/male, main/mane, meat/meet, medal/meddle, missed/mist, peace/piece, plain/plane, rain/rein/reign, scene/seen, weather/whether, whose/who’s
Statutory Requirement Rules and Guidance Example words
Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words of more than one syllable If the last syllable of a word is stressed and ends with one consonant letter which has just one vowel letter before it, the final consonant letter is doubled before any ending beginning with a vowel letter is added. The consonant letter is not doubled if the syllable is unstressed. forgetting, forgotten, beginning, beginner, prefer, preferred gardening, gardener, limiting, limited, limitation
The /ɪ/ sound spelt y elsewhere than at the end of words These words should be learnt as needed. myth, gym, Egypt, pyramid, mystery
The /ʌ/ sound spelt ou These words should be learnt as needed. young, touch, double, trouble, country
More prefixes Most prefixes are added to the beginning of root words without any changes in spelling, but see in– below. Like un–, the prefixes dis– and mis– have negative meanings. The prefix in– can mean both ‘not’ and ‘in’/‘into’. In the words given here it means ‘not’. Before a root word starting with l, in– becomes il. Before a root word starting with m or p, in– becomes im–. Before a root word starting with r, in– becomes ir–. re– means ‘again’ or ‘back’. sub– means ‘under’. inter– means ‘between’ or ‘among’. super– means ‘above’. anti– means ‘against’. auto– means ‘self’ or ‘own’. dis–: disappoint, disagree, disobey mis–: misbehave, mislead, misspell (mis + spell) in–: inactive, incorrect illegal, illegible immature, immortal, impossible, impatient, imperfect irregular, irrelevant, irresponsible re–: redo, refresh, return, reappear, redecorate sub–: subdivide, subheading, submarine, submerge inter–: interact, intercity, international, interrelated (inter + related) super–: supermarket, superman, superstar anti–: antiseptic, anti- clockwise, antisocial auto–: autobiography, autograph
The suffix –ation The suffix –ation is added to verbs to form nouns. The rules already learnt still apply. information, adoration, sensation, preparation, admiration
The suffix –ly The suffix –ly is added to an adjective to form an adverb. The rules already learnt still apply. The suffix –ly starts with a consonant letter, so it is added straight on to most root words. Exceptions: (1) If the root word ends in –y with a consonant letter before it, the y is changed to i, but only if the root word has more than one syllable. (2) If the root word ends with –le, the –le is changed to –ly. (3) If the root word ends with –ic, –ally is added rather than just –ly, except in the word publicly. (4) The words truly, duly, wholly. sadly, completely, usually (usual + ly), finally (final + ly), comically (comical + ly) happily, angrily gently, simply, humbly, nobly basically, frantically, dramatically
Words with endings sounding like /ʒə/ or /tʃə/ The ending sounding like /ʒə/ is always spelt –sure. The ending sounding like /tʃə/ is often spelt –ture, but check that the word is not a root word ending in (t)ch with an er ending – e.g. teacher, catcher, richer, stretcher. measure, treasure, pleasure, enclosure creature, furniture, picture, nature, adventure
Endings which sound like /ʒən/ If the ending sounds like /ʒən/, it is spelt as –sion. division, invasion, confusion, decision, collision, television
The suffix –ous Sometimes the root word is obvious and the usual rules apply for adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters. Sometimes there is no obvious root word. –our is changed to –or before –ous is added. A final ‘e’ of the root word must be kept if the /dʒ/ sound of ‘g’ is to be kept. If there is an /i:/ sound before the –ous ending, it is usually spelt as i, but a few words have e. poisonous, dangerous, mountainous, famous, various tremendous, enormous, jealous humorous, glamorous, vigorous courageous, outrageous serious, obvious, curious hideous, spontaneous, courteous
Endings which sound like /ʃən/, spelt –tion, –sion, –ssion, –cian Strictly speaking, the suffixes are – ion and –ian. Clues about whether to put t, s, ss or c before these suffixes often come from the last letter or letters of the root word. –tion is the most common spelling. It is used if the root word ends in t or te. –ssion is used if the root word ends in ss or –mit. –sion is used if the root word ends in d or se. Exceptions: attend – attention, intend – intention. –cian is used if the root word ends in c or cs. invention, injection, action, hesitation, completion expression, discussion, confession, permission, admission expansion, extension, comprehension, tension musician, electrician, magician, politician, mathematician
Words with the /k/ sound spelt ch (Greek in origin) scheme, chorus, chemist, echo, character
Words with the /ʃ/ sound spelt ch (mostly French in origin) chef, chalet, machine, brochure
Words ending with the /g/ sound spelt – gue and the /k/ sound spelt –que (French in origin) league, tongue, antique, unique
Words with the /s/ sound spelt sc (Latin in origin) In the Latin words from which these words come, the Romans probably pronounced the c and the k as two sounds rather than one – /s/ /k/. science, scene, discipline, fascinate, crescent
Words with the /eɪ/ sound spelt ei, eigh, or ey vein, weigh, eight, neighbour, they, obey
Possessive apostrophe with plural words The apostrophe is placed after the plural form of the word; –s is not added if the plural already ends in –s, but is added if the plural does not end in –s (i.e. is an irregular plural – e.g. children’s). girls’, boys’, babies’, children’s, men’s, mice’s (Note: singular proper nouns ending in an s use the ’s suffix e.g. Cyprus’s population)
Homophones and near-homophones accept/except, affect/effect, ball/bawl, berry/bury, brake/break, fair/fare, grate/great, groan/grown, here/hear, heel/heal/he’ll, knot/not, mail/male, main/mane, meat/meet, medal/meddle, missed/mist, peace/piece, plain/plane, rain/rein/reign, scene/seen, weather/whether, whose/who’s
Statutory Requirement Rules and Guidance Example words
Endings which sound like /ʃəs/ spelt –cious or –tious Not many common words end like this. If the root word ends in –ce, the /ʃ/ sound is usually spelt as c – e.g. vice – vicious, grace – gracious, space – spacious, malice – malicious. Exception: anxious. vicious, precious, conscious, delicious, malicious, suspicious ambitious, cautious, fictitious, infectious, nutritious
Endings which sound like /ʃəl/ –cial is common after a vowel letter and –tial after a consonant letter, but there are some exceptions. Exceptions: initial, financial, commercial, provincial (the spelling of the last three is clearly related to finance, commerce and province). official, special, artificial, partial, confidential, essential
Words ending in –ant, –ance/–ancy, –ent, –ence/–ency Use –ant and –ance/–ancy if there is a related word with a /æ/ or /eɪ/ sound in the right position; –ation endings are often a clue. Use –ent and –ence/–ency after soft c (/s/ sound), soft g (/dʒ/ sound) and qu, or if there is a related word with a clear /ɛ/ sound in the right position. There are many words, however, where the above guidance does not help. These words just have to be learnt. observant, observance, (observation), expectant (expectation), hesitant, hesitancy (hesitation), tolerant, tolerance (toleration), substance (substantial) innocent, innocence, decent, decency, frequent, frequency, confident, confidence (confidential) assistant, assistance, obedient, obedience, independent, independence
Words ending in –able and –ible Words ending in –ably and –ibly The –able/–ably endings are far more common than the –ible/–ibly endings. As with –ant and –ance/–ancy, the – able ending is used if there is a related word ending in –ation. If the –able ending is added to a word ending in –ce or –ge, the e after the c or g must be kept as those letters would otherwise have their ‘hard’ sounds (as in cap and gap) before the a of the –able ending. The –able ending is usually but not always used if a complete root word can be heard before it, even if there is no related word ending in –ation. The first five examples opposite are obvious; in reliable, the complete word rely is heard, but the y changes to i in accordance with the rule. The –ible ending is common if a complete root word can’t be heard before it but it also sometimes occurs when a complete word can be heard (e.g. sensible). adorable/adorably (adoration), applicable/applicably (application), considerable/considerably (consideration), tolerable/tolerably (toleration) changeable, noticeable, forcible, legible dependable, comfortable, understandable, reasonable, enjoyable, reliable possible/possibly, horrible/horribly, terrible/terribly, visible/visibly, incredible/incredibly, sensible/sensibly
Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words ending in –fer The r is doubled if the –fer is still stressed when the ending is added. The r is not doubled if the –fer is no longer stressed. referring, referred, referral, preferring, preferred, transferring, transferred reference, referee, preference, transference
Use of the hyphen Hyphens can be used to join a prefix to a root word, especially if the prefix ends in a vowel letter and the root word also begins with one. co-ordinate, re-enter, co-operate, co-own
Words with the /i:/ sound spelt ei after c The ‘i before e except after c’ rule applies to words where the sound spelt by ei is /i:/. Exceptions: protein, caffeine, seize (and either and neither if pronounced with an initial /i:/ sound). deceive, conceive, receive, perceive, ceiling
Words containing the letter-string ough ough is one of the trickiest spellings in English – it can be used to spell a number of different sounds. ought, bought, thought, nought, brought, fought rough, tough, enough cough though, although, dough through thorough, borough plough, bough
Words with ‘silent’ letters (i.e. letters whose presence cannot be predicted from the pronunciation of the word) Some letters which are no longer sounded used to be sounded hundreds of years ago: e.g. in knight, there was a /k/ sound before the /n/, and the gh used to represent the sound that ‘ch’ now represents in the Scottish word loch. doubt, island, lamb, solemn, thistle, knight
Homophones and other words that are often confused In the pairs of words opposite, nouns end –ce and verbs end –se. Advice and advise provide a useful clue as the word advise (verb) is pronounced with a /z/ sound – which could not be spelt c. More examples: aisle: a gangway between seats (in a church, train, plane). isle: an island. aloud: out loud. allowed: permitted. affect: usually a verb (e.g. The weather may affect our plans). effect: usually a noun (e.g. It may have an effect on our plans). If a verb, it means ‘bring about’ (e.g. He will effect changes in the running of the business). altar: a table-like piece of furniture in a church. alter: to change. ascent: the act of ascending (going up). assent: to agree/agreement (verb and noun). bridal: to do with a bride at a wedding. bridle: reins etc. for controlling a horse. cereal: made from grain (e.g. breakfast cereal). serial: adjective from the noun series – a succession of things one after the other. compliment: to make nice remarks about someone (verb) or the remark that is made (noun). complement: related to the word complete – to make something complete or more complete (e.g. her scarf complemented her outfit). advice/advise device/devise licence/license practice/practise prophecy/prophesy farther: further father: a male parent guessed: past tense of the verb guess guest: visitor heard: past tense of the verb hear herd: a group of animals led: past tense of the verb lead lead: present tense of that verb, or else the metal which is very heavy (as heavy as lead) morning: before noon mourning: grieving for someone who has died past: noun or adjective referring to a previous time (e.g. In the past) or preposition or adverb showing place (e.g. he walked past me) passed: past tense of the verb ‘pass’ (e.g. I passed him in the road) precede: go in front of or before proceed: go on
Homophones and other words that are often confused (continued) descent: the act of descending (going down). dissent: to disagree/disagreement (verb and noun). desert: as a noun – a barren place (stress on first syllable); as a verb – to abandon (stress on second syllable) dessert: (stress on second syllable) a sweet course after the main course of a meal. draft: noun – a first attempt at writing something; verb – to make the first attempt; also, to draw in someone (e.g. to draft in extra help) draught: a current of air. Principal: adjective - mostimportant (e.g. principal ballerina) noun – important person (e.g. principal of a college) principle: basic truth or belief profit: money that is made in selling things prophet: someone who foretells the future stationary: not moving stationery: paper, envelopes etc. steal: take something that does not belong to you steel: metal wary: cautious weary: tired who’s: contraction of who is or who has whose: belonging to someone (e.g. Whose jacket is that?)
Statutory Requirement Rules and Guidance Example words
Endings which sound like /ʃəs/ spelt –cious or –tious Not many common words end like this. If the root word ends in –ce, the /ʃ/ sound is usually spelt as c – e.g. vice – vicious, grace – gracious, space – spacious, malice – malicious. Exception: anxious. vicious, precious, conscious, delicious, malicious, suspicious ambitious, cautious, fictitious, infectious, nutritious
Endings which sound like /ʃəl/ –cial is common after a vowel letter and –tial after a consonant letter, but there are some exceptions. Exceptions: initial, financial, commercial, provincial (the spelling of the last three is clearly related to finance, commerce and province). official, special, artificial, partial, confidential, essential
Words ending in –ant, –ance/–ancy, –ent, –ence/–ency Use –ant and –ance/–ancy if there is a related word with a /æ/ or /eɪ/ sound in the right position; –ation endings are often a clue. Use –ent and –ence/–ency after soft c (/s/ sound), soft g (/dʒ/ sound) and qu, or if there is a related word with a clear /ɛ/ sound in the right position. There are many words, however, where the above guidance does not help. These words just have to be learnt. observant, observance, (observation), expectant (expectation), hesitant, hesitancy (hesitation), tolerant, tolerance (toleration), substance (substantial) innocent, innocence, decent, decency, frequent, frequency, confident, confidence (confidential) assistant, assistance, obedient, obedience, independent, independence
Words ending in –able and –ible Words ending in –ably and –ibly The –able/–ably endings are far more common than the –ible/–ibly endings. As with –ant and –ance/–ancy, the – able ending is used if there is a related word ending in –ation. If the –able ending is added to a word ending in –ce or –ge, the e after the c or g must be kept as those letters would otherwise have their ‘hard’ sounds (as in cap and gap) before the a of the –able ending. The –able ending is usually but not always used if a complete root word can be heard before it, even if there is no related word ending in –ation. The first five examples opposite are obvious; in reliable, the complete word rely is heard, but the y changes to i in accordance with the rule. The –ible ending is common if a complete root word can’t be heard before it but it also sometimes occurs when a complete word can be heard (e.g. sensible). adorable/adorably (adoration), applicable/applicably (application), considerable/considerably (consideration), tolerable/tolerably (toleration) changeable, noticeable, forcible, legible dependable, comfortable, understandable, reasonable, enjoyable, reliable possible/possibly, horrible/horribly, terrible/terribly, visible/visibly, incredible/incredibly, sensible/sensibly
Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words ending in –fer The r is doubled if the –fer is still stressed when the ending is added. The r is not doubled if the –fer is no longer stressed. referring, referred, referral, preferring, preferred, transferring, transferred reference, referee, preference, transference
Use of the hyphen Hyphens can be used to join a prefix to a root word, especially if the prefix ends in a vowel letter and the root word also begins with one. co-ordinate, re-enter, co-operate, co-own
Words with the /i:/ sound spelt ei after c The ‘i before e except after c’ rule applies to words where the sound spelt by ei is /i:/. Exceptions: protein, caffeine, seize (and either and neither if pronounced with an initial /i:/ sound). deceive, conceive, receive, perceive, ceiling
Words containing the letter-string ough ough is one of the trickiest spellings in English – it can be used to spell a number of different sounds. ought, bought, thought, nought, brought, fought rough, tough, enough cough though, although, dough through thorough, borough plough, bough
Words with ‘silent’ letters (i.e. letters whose presence cannot be predicted from the pronunciation of the word) Some letters which are no longer sounded used to be sounded hundreds of years ago: e.g. in knight, there was a /k/ sound before the /n/, and the gh used to represent the sound that ‘ch’ now represents in the Scottish word loch. doubt, island, lamb, solemn, thistle, knight
Homophones and other words that are often confused In the pairs of words opposite, nouns end –ce and verbs end –se. Advice and advise provide a useful clue as the word advise (verb) is pronounced with a /z/ sound – which could not be spelt c. More examples: aisle: a gangway between seats (in a church, train, plane). isle: an island. aloud: out loud. allowed: permitted. affect: usually a verb (e.g. The weather may affect our plans). effect: usually a noun (e.g. It may have an effect on our plans). If a verb, it means ‘bring about’ (e.g. He will effect changes in the running of the business). altar: a table-like piece of furniture in a church. alter: to change. ascent: the act of ascending (going up). assent: to agree/agreement (verb and noun). bridal: to do with a bride at a wedding. bridle: reins etc. for controlling a horse. cereal: made from grain (e.g. breakfast cereal). serial: adjective from the noun series – a succession of things one after the other. compliment: to make nice remarks about someone (verb) or the remark that is made (noun). complement: related to the word complete – to make something complete or more complete (e.g. her scarf complemented her outfit). advice/advise device/devise licence/license practice/practise prophecy/prophesy farther: further father: a male parent guessed: past tense of the verb guess guest: visitor heard: past tense of the verb hear herd: a group of animals led: past tense of the verb lead lead: present tense of that verb, or else the metal which is very heavy (as heavy as lead) morning: before noon mourning: grieving for someone who has died past: noun or adjective referring to a previous time (e.g. In the past) or preposition or adverb showing place (e.g. he walked past me) passed: past tense of the verb ‘pass’ (e.g. I passed him in the road) precede: go in front of or before proceed: go on
Homophones and other words that are often confused (continued) descent: the act of descending (going down). dissent: to disagree/disagreement (verb and noun). desert: as a noun – a barren place (stress on first syllable); as a verb – to abandon (stress on second syllable) dessert: (stress on second syllable) a sweet course after the main course of a meal. draft: noun – a first attempt at writing something; verb – to make the first attempt; also, to draw in someone (e.g. to draft in extra help) draught: a current of air. Principal: adjective - mostimportant (e.g. principal ballerina) noun – important person (e.g. principal of a college) principle: basic truth or belief profit: money that is made in selling things prophet: someone who foretells the future stationary: not moving stationery: paper, envelopes etc. steal: take something that does not belong to you steel: metal wary: cautious weary: tired who’s: contraction of who is or who has whose: belonging to someone (e.g. Whose jacket is that?)