Spelling Rules

Spelling can be confusing; however, let’s look at a few of the basic rules that might help.

IE or EI
A common one that can cause frustration is whether to place the I before or after the E. If the word doesn’t have a C, then the spelling consists of IE, such as: believe, relief, and thief.

If the word does include a C, then the spelling consists of CEI, such as: receive, receipt, and deceive.

Some people think that if a word doesn’t have a C but consist of I and E then the word must always be spelt as IE; however, that’s not the case. If the IE is sounded as A then the word is spelt EI, such as: neighbour, weight, and heir.

To make this explanation easy to remember, memorise these simple rules:

I before E except after C.
E before I when it sounds like A.

Replace E with ING
Another issue that can arise is whether to remove the E when adding ING. If a core word ends in a single E then it’s usually replaced with ING, such as the following samples:

live becomes living
make becomes making
care becomes caring

Unsure if that word should end in ABLE or IBLE? If the core word is recognisable on its own, then the ending will usually be ABLE.


obtain becomes obtainable
recognise becomes recognisable
believe becomes believable

However, if the core word is unrecognisable on its own, then the ending will usually be IBLE.


horrible, terrible, possible

Another ending that can confuse is ANCE or ENCE. Words that end in ATE or ATION usually are replaced with ANCE.


hesitate becomes hesitance
toleration becomes tolerance

Whereas words ending in ENTAL or ENTIAL usually are replaced with ENCE.


coincidental becomes coincidence
influential becomes influence

Of course, there are always exceptions to rules, which is why it is always wise to consult a quality dictionary.