English Spelling Rules
Here are some of the basic English spelling rules you should definitely
English Modal Verbs: check out our new series of illustrated workbooks!
Specific spelling rules for verb tenses
dealing with tenses, we often need to change the spelling of the
So here you have the commonly used English spelling rules for
For general tips and advice read: How to Improve Your
Spelling, a Guide for Students
Read the rules and make sure to practice them at the Exercises
good way to improve your spelling is reading.
That way you see the
words again and again and get familiar with their spelling. So visit
Short Stories section
Now, let's go over to some more general spelling rules:
Spelling rule #1: S or ES?
normal rule to make regular plurals in English, or to change a regular
verb to the he/she/it form (also known as the third person singular),
is to add S
to the end of the word.
- One dog --> Lots of dogs
- I work --> She works
- A car --> Some cars
- You like tea --> She likes coffee
sometimes we need to add ES instead. When the word ends in: CH, SH, X,
SS (and ZZ but this isn't common), then we have to add ES
- I watch TV every night. --> He watches TV at the weekend.
- I have one wish. --> The genie gave him three wishes.
- Can you fix this? --> A mechanic fixes cars.
- Give me a kiss! --> She gave her daughter lots of
Spelling rule #1B: the problem with Y
Students are often confused by the letter Y.
it is removed from the end of the word before the word is changed into
a plural or third person singular form, and sometimes it isn't.
So what's the rule?
There are two types of letters in English. Vowels (A, E, I, O, U) and
consonants (all the other letters)
If a word ends in Y, and before the Y there is a consonant (for
example, fly, try, spy) then the Y is removed, and IES is added.
- I want to fly a kite. --> A pilot flies a plane.
- He was a spy. --> The spies were caught.
- Try this exercise. --> Sarah tries very hard in her
If the word ends with a vowel then Y (for example, play, tray,
toy) then simply an S is added.
- I used to play with dolls. --> She plays with other
- He has a new toy. --> The dog has lots of toys.
Spelling rule #2: doubling consonants
Some words which end in consonants double the last letter when suffixes
(extra letters) are added to the end of the word.
- hot --> hotter
- swim --> swimming
However, this doesn't always happen.
So what's the rule?
If a word ends in a consonant
that has one vowel before it
, then the last consonant is doubled
- travel --> traveller
(British English spelling)
- big --> biggest
This does not usually happen with words with more than one syllable
ending in ER, or OR. (Of course, there are exceptions!)
/ furry / furred / furring
- plot / plotted
/ misery /
(American English spelling)
If a word has two vowels before the last consonant, or there are two
consonants at the end, the last letter isn't doubled.
- old --> oldest
- shoot --> shooter
Spelling rule #3: the disappearing E
If a verb ends in E, then the E is removed before adding ING to the end
of the word.
here for the complete list of rules on English plural nouns.
often make mistakes with spelling in English. There are other English
spelling rules, but these are the most basic ones.
practice, practice with the Exercises
your spelling by reading Short Stories