Good spelling is part memory, part judgment. Proper spelling techniques should be memorized and practiced, but writers should judge their own abilities and look up unknown words. The English language contains numerous exceptions for every rule, so a good dictionary and thesaurus are essential. Look up words that are unfamiliar, that you do not use often, or that contain a spelling rule that you do not know completely. Some of the more common spelling errors occur in creating plurals, adding suffixes, and with double consonant or vowel constructions.

Use of -s or -es to Create Plurals.

Adding -s or -es to a word is the most common way to create a plural, but there are a variety of other situations in which writers must use other letters to create plurals. Add -s to most words that end in "hard" consonant sounds, including "hard" -ch (sounding like k): hats, teams, computers, bites, tapes, stomachs Add -es to words that end in -s, -sh, -x, -z, or "soft" -ch (sounding like march): lenses, taxes, marches

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Words Ending in -o

Add -s if a vowel precedes the -o: videos, neutrinos, cameos.
Add -es if a consonant precedes the -o: tomatoes, potatoes, zeroes.

Words Ending in -f or -fe.

There are no set rules for these words. You will have to memorize them or look them up. Some -f or -fe words are made plural by adding -s: beliefs, roofs, chiefs. Others require the writer to change the -f or -fe to -ves: life - lives, leaf - leaves.

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Creating Plurals for Words With Internal changes or Endings Other
Than -s or -es

Some words are changed internally to create plurals: foot - feet, goose - geese, mouse - mice.
Some words are made plural with endings other than -s: man - men, child - children

One-Form Words

Some words retain the same spelling for both singular and plural: deer, elk, fish.

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