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.

Habits to Avoid for Professionals

It’s important not to allow bad habits that form from speech to drift into professional business writing. Every word on the page will be judged by a potential customer so make sure all business related writing, marketing information, website content, manuals and correspondence are professional. Even in industries where writing doesn’t have to be strictly formal, it still has to be professional. It cannot alienate your intended audience. Before any document is released for public or customer viewing, read the document again placing yourself into the viewpoint of the intended receiver.

There are other important aspects to avoid while presenting a professional image with your writing. We’ll explore a few of them here.


A tautology is saying the same thing twice.

You wouldn’t want to send someone an email with this message:

I’ll join you at 8.30 am in the morning for a briefing before our usual morning meeting with the team.

A better email relaying the same information would be:

I’ll join you at 8.30 am for a briefing before our usual morning meeting with the team.

In this case, the sender is still making an 8.30 am appointment with the receiver without the use of a tautology.

Overdoing it

When someone wants to emphasise a point, it’s possible to get carried away and overdo it, perhaps even appear abusive or uncontrollable. At times, even in business, people can get emotional, but it should be controlled when dealing with colleagues and certainly customers.

There is no point in ranting in an email or letter to someone about a situation that has been overlooked or completely mishandled. Instead, throw your focus into how to fix the problem as quickly and painlessly as possible, and then formulate a plan, so it never happens again.


A cliché is a phrase that has been used often and is annoying to hear or read. A person that leans on clichés can earn a reputation of not having any original thoughts. Would you want to deal with someone in business that comes across that way?

In today’s society, there’s a growing trend to create catchy slogans that quickly turn into clichés. That’s fine if it’s done in a positive way where it promotes company awareness or branding. Some catchphrases may become a generic term or name given to a new development or product. But generally speaking, clichés should never reach your professional written work.

No part of this may be represented in any medium without written consent from the author. Mary Broadhurst © 2014