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Common spelling errors and

strategies
There are many ways to help you remember how to spell words. If you
repeatedly misspell a word, then spend some time learning and practising it
so you can easily recall the correct spelling in future. Accurate spelling helps
to ensure that your intended meaning is carried through your writing.
Try out the following methods to master your spelling.

Mnemonics
A mnemonic is a tool that helps your memory to retrieve information you
have stored in it. In spelling you might use a pattern, rhyme or saying to help
you recall the way a word is put together.
For example, a mnemonic for remembering necessary could be:
Its necessary that a shirt has one collar and two sleeves.
Finding words within words is another way to create a mnemonic.
For example, Emma faced a dilemma might help you remember that there
are two ms in dilemma.
Another mnemonic involves creating an acrostic . These work best when
you have invented them yourself.
For example:
Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants the initial letters
form the word BECAUSE.
Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move is a useful way to rememberRHYTHM.

Hear with your ear


Another way of remembering a tricky spelling is to sound the word out. By
doing this, you break down the way the word is structured and this makes it
easier to remember.
For example, you might break down the word friend to 'fri-end' to remind
you that the 'i' comes before the 'e'.

Common rules to remember


There are some general rules that can help when checking your spelling.

'i' before 'e' except after 'c'

Notice how the i comes before the e in believe, achieve andretrieve.


But after a c the e comes before the i as
in receive, ceiling anddeceit (beware that the word weird likes to break
this rule - perhaps because it is weird!).

Past tense
Take care when using the past tense. You usually need to add -ed to a verb,
though some verbs need extra consonants as well.
Here are some examples of verbs that add -ed in the past tense:

Verb

Past tense

Walk

Walked

Direct

Directed

Verb

Past tense

Inspect

Inspected

Wish

Wished

Discuss

Discussed

If a verb is three letters in length and ends in a consonant, you will usually
need to double the consonant before you add -ed. For example:

Verb

Past tense

Hug

Hugged

Tag

Tagged

Pin

Pinned

Nap

Napped

Tip

Tipped

Some verbs have irregular spellings in the past tense. You might need to
invent mnemonics to remember these. For example:

Verb

Past tense

Think

Thought

Buy

Bought

Run

Ran

Go

Went

Forget

Forgot

Silent letters
Some
Silent
Silent
Silent

words contain silent letters. These are not spoken aloud. For example:
w - wrong, write, wrap, wrist
b - climb, comb, thumb, lamb
k - knowledge, knuckle, knee, knife

Some commonly misspelt words


Look at the list of commonly misspelt words and notice those that you are
less confident about. Spend some time coming up with a mnemonic to
remember the spelling and practise using the words when you can:

accommodation

assessment

interesting

weird

knowledge

acceptable

concentration

argument

listening

receive

atmosphere

collectable

proportion

development

beginning

mischief

daughter

noticeable

conclusion

permanent

abandoning

fierce

jealous

visible

evaluation

contentment

compromising

believe

explanation

invincible

appreciation

independent

confirming

foreign

liaison

negligible

Tip - its better to learn one or two a day than all of them at once!
Homophones

Homophones are words that sound identical but have different spellings and
meanings. Finding ways to remember which one to use is helpful as getting
these wrong can really confuse a reader.
Common examples include:

witch and which

too, two and to

sight, site

through, threw

whether, weather

theyre, their and there

break, brake

right, write

waist, waste

where, wear, were

coarse, course

its, its

stare, stair

male, mail

weak, week

so, sew, sow

by, bye, buy

tail, tale

bored, board

piece, peace

serial, cereal

aloud, allowed

flour, flower

sent, scent, cent

in, inn

It is useful to think of ways to remember the correct homophone for your


sentence. You might like to use pictures or, as with your spellings, you could
make up a rhyme or mnemonic to help you.
For example:

To/too/two
To remember just the one 'o' to get from one place to another.
Too means 'as well as'. Remember the spelling by thinking that it has
toooooooooooo many os.
Two remember this by thinking of the w meaning 2.

Waste/waist
Remember the difference between waste and waist with the sentence:
I have a waist. The i in the sentence refers to the i in the spelling.

Aloud/allowed
Remember that if youre speaking something aloud, it will be loud