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Use of Suffixes

Words Ending in -y

Change the -y to -i if the letter before the final the final -y is a consonant (try - tries), unless the suffix begins with an -i (apply - applying). Keep the final -y if the letter before the -y is a vowel: deploying, employed.

Note: The above rules do not apply to irregular verbs.

Words Ending in -e

Drop a final e when the suffix begins with a vowel unless doing so would cause confusion (for example, be + ing does not become bing): require - requiring; like - liking. Keep the final e when the suffix begins with a consonant: require - requirement; like - likely. Exceptions include argument, judgment, and truly.

Words That Double a Final Letter

If the final letter is a consonant, double it only if it passes all three of these tests: (1) its last two letters are a vowel followed by a consonant, (2) it has one syllable or is accented on the last syllable, and (3) the suffix begins with a vowel: drop, dropped; begin, beginning; forget, forgetful, forgettable.

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-cede, -ceed, -sede words

Only one word ends in -sede: supersede. Three words end in -ceed: exceed, proceed, succeed. All other English words whose endings sound like "seed" end in -cede: concede, intercede, precede.

-ally and -ly words

The suffixes -ally and -ly turn words into ADVERBS. For words ending in -ic, add -ally: logically, statistically. Otherwise, add -ly: quickly, sharply. (The only exception is public, publicly.)

-ance, -ence, and -ible, -able

No consistent rules govern words with these suffixes. The best advice is, when in doubt, look it up.

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The Th ie, ei Rule

I before e [believe, field, grief] Except after c [ceiling, conceit], Or when sounded like ay [eight, vein], As in neighbor and weigh. You may want to memorize these major exceptions:

ie: conscience, financier, science, species

ei: either, neither, leisure, seize, counterfeit, foreign, forfeit, sleight, weird

Although the rules are very helpful, it is sometimes difficult to remember certain words, especially if they are uncommon or contain double letters.


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