How Do I Become a Better Speller?

By Catherine Osborn

A college freshman asked me how to spell “valiant” and when I did, he wondered why it was not “-ent”. He asked how I knew that and I had no idea how to respond! All along, I’ve been a terrific speller, even winning some spelling bees in my younger years. But after some thoughtful consideration and reference to my classes on teaching English, I have come up with a few helpful tips:

1. The number one thing that bolsters your spelling ability is reading. The two are so inherently linked that it is almost impossible to be a good speller without being a good reader.

2. Exposing yourself to different types of text will increase your knowledge of the way things are spelled. Through reading newspapers, novels, blogs, even billboards, your brain memorizes spelling patterns.

3. Becoming familiar with root words will also help. We get confused with prefixes and suffixes sometimes and forget the word’s spelling. By singling out the root word, we take away half the problem!

4. Writing frequently also helps you to spell with more precision. You will quickly learn which words “look right” and if not, never hesitate to consult a dictionary. Once you’ve written a word correctly a few times, you will start to remember this.

5. Familiarize yourself with spelling rules. These include but are not limited to:

  • “i before e except after c”
  • “The letter y preceded by a consonant changes to i before a suffix”
  • “Most words drop the final silent e before a suffix beginning with a vowel”
  • “When adding a suffix to a word that ends with a single consonant after a single vowel and stressing the last syllable in the pronunciation of the word, the final consonant is doubled.”
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35 Responses to “How Do I Become a Better Speller?”

  • Grace

    Hello everyone. I am here to give some very important, helpful tips on spelling. First off, you can learn to spell by pronouncing words out. For an example, as a little kid, you start off by spelling small words. Maybe a 2 letter or a letter 3 word. And eventually, you progress and start learning 4’s and 5’s and as you progress you might go wow, how am I going to do this but, little by little, you’ll be able to do it all! So don’t get upset, because soon, you’ll go back and say, “how could I have been not able to spell this”. The more you practice, the faster you’ll get it. No worries if it takes longer than you expected it to be. You can’t expect to go to bed and wake up the next morning and be better than you were last night because it all takes time.

  • Grace

    Hi guys. I am so sorry for my immaturity. I have really matured since then. Ok, so I’m going to tell you what I should’ve said on my first paragraph.

  • Grace

    Here I come, accidently spelled pronouncing wrong. I know how to spell it but, I don’t even know what was going through and out my head to not spell it right o_O

  • Grace

    Hi to all. I’m here to give some very helpful important tips on spelling. Well first of all, you can spell by pronucing words out. Example: When you were a young child, you started off by spelling simple words such as, jet, man, top, ect. But you advance to harder levels now. So then you’re about to learn compound words! So you just put two and two togather! As you can see as a young child you go WHOA! This is a 6 letter word! But you can’t always go by that. And all this takes is practice. Sound the word out to figure out how to spell it. You might not always get it right but, don’t worry about it. Spelling takes practice. One day in your free time, go look some words up in a dictionary.

  • G.C

    Your first tip is more less an opinion then a fact. I, for example, I’m an exelent reader, I read on a daily basics and have tons of books on my bed side table, and yet, im a terrible speller. I KNOW the words are spell wrong, I just have no idea how to fix them. And, aside from reading, I write everyday. Some people fing it hard to believe i’m a bad speller. So i just broke the impossibility of someone being “A good speller without being a good reader”.

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