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Spelling Simplified

Millions of people want to learn to spell correctly, but they fear the task will be tedious and painful. Now, with the unique, logical approach presented in Spelling Simplified, anyone can become a skilled speller quickly and easily. Through the use of simple and effective exercises and tips, Spelling Simplified illustrates what many poor spellers forget - that the way a word is spelled is closely related to the sound and meaning of that word.

Chapters devoted to syllables and stress, patterns in the language, consonant clusters, and vowel-consonant combinations are included, each complete with its own set of examples and exercises. From the simplest root words through longer words derived from foreign languages, Spelling Simplified guides you through basic techniques for learning how to "hear" a word, how to master irregularities, and how to form large words from smaller ones. Breezily written and easy to use, Spelling Simplified shows that mastering spelling can be painless - and even fun.

What the reviewers said:

"...an excellent book to help older children/teens and adults with spelling rules and oddities."

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an excerpt from Spelling Simplified:

Patterns in Invasion Words

Up until now, the primary rule of English spelling—each sound is represented by a letter unless there's a good reason—has held up. For native English and Greek- and Latin-derived words, more than 98 percent can be said to be regular. That is, they're spelled the way they sound.

But throughout our discussion of various sounds, we've also scattered groups of words that don't follow the rules: for instance, the words in Chapter 8 that spell the z sound ss. These are primarily Invasion words. They have come to us from all the languages with which English-speaking people have had contact, going as far back as the tenth century and earlier. Happily, these words make up only from 10 to 15 percent of the language—and even with these words, we can find some generalizations that apply.


When many of these words invaded English, they bumped smack up against other words that sounded so similar, the difference in meaning could only be deciphered in context. The authors of our written communication devised a solu-tion that the spoken language couldn't offer: they spelled these new words with alternate vowel sounds. That's how most of the homonyms in our language were born.

sale—sail bore—boar forth—fourth
hole—whole steel—steal  I'll—isle—aisle

These short words trip up many good spellers. The best way to learn to spell each variant correctly is to memorize each spelling in association with the word's meaning, actually picturing the meaning in your mind as you study the word. Throughout the book, we've tried to list every homonym— and near-homonym—that is frequently misspelled.

Doubled consonants

For the most part, the consonants in Invasion words are pronounced exactly as in native English words. Since they're spelled the way they sound, they rarely give any trouble. But there's a small group of two-syllable verbs from the romance languages—particularly French—that retain their native accent on the second syllable instead of shifting it to the first syllable. Here are a few examples:

occur occurring occurred occurrence
allot allotting allotted allotment
prefer preferring preferred preference
corral corralling corralled corrals

What happens to the spelling when we add endings that begin with a vowel?
What happens when the accent shifts into the first syllable?

This doubling of the final consonant also occurs in a few native English verbs. See if you can find a pattern for when to double and when not to, by examining each list below. (We've added -ing, but the same spelling holds true if you add any ending beginning with a vowel.)

accent on
1st syllable

accent on second syllable

2ndsyll=SVS 2ndsyll=SVS 2ndsyll=LVS
gallop(ing) occur(ring) predict(ing) devise(ing)
ballot(ing allot(ting) lament(ing) console(ing)
barrel(ing corral(ling) insert(ing) prevail(ing)
proffer(ing) prefer(ring) remark(ing) retire(ing)
armor(ing) defer(ring) collect(ing) inquire(ing)
target(ing) forget(ting) corrupt(ing) refute(ing)
tunnel(ing) rebel(ling) exist(ing) unpeel(ing)
conjure(ing) begin(ning) connect(ing) disappear(ing)
benefit(ing) transfer(ring) embalm(ing) carouse(ing)

Pattern for doubling the last letter when adding endings to words accented on the final syllable: Double the final consonant if needed, so that the spelling follows the pattern SVS =    and LVS=    .

Notice that the two-consonant pattern acts as a pronunciation guide for readers: English readers, seeing a two-consonant grouping after the first syllable of a word, learn to put the accent on that syllable. If they see the two-consonant pattern suddenly in the last syllable of the root (even if there's also a two-consonant pattern in the first syllable), they know that this is usually the syllable to accent. Watch for this clue as you read for pleasure.

When a verb changes the spelling of its root to make its adjective form, the doubling pattern of the root word is often kept. This sometimes results in a seeming exception to the pattern we've observed.

appear—apparent excel—excellent

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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Judi K-Turkel, Franklynn Peterson, P/K Associates, Inc. 
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