Spelling rules

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

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

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

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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