Basic Rules

In this section, we're going to review some of the most basic rules. You can't avoid it. There are a number of basic rules that really do help you learn how to spell. Once you have mastered them, these rules will help you learn to spell a great majority of words correctly.

Though many people will admit the wide variety of words in the English language can be a challenge to spell correctly, most will agree that a large number of words are obedient. In other words, they like to follow the rules! So, put these next few rules to memory and be prepared to find success. Do you know any of the rules already?

A Quick Rule

Let's start with one of the easiest rules to remember. When you spell words that have a q in them, always follow that q with a u. Some examples are queen and quiet. Two other words are quiz and quaint.

There are only a few times when following a q with a u isn't the right thing to do, and that's when the word ends in a q, like Iraq. Boy, things would sure be simple if every spelling rule was so easy to learn.

Check for Vowels

Another rule that's easy to remember is the Vowel Rule. That is, each syllable in a word must have a vowel in it. Here are three examples:

  • Colorado
  • Mississippi
  • elephant

Each syllable in these rather long words has a vowel in it. Even short words follow this example, such as the word able. Able is two syllables, able. Notice that even the second syllable has a vowel, even though it is the sneaky silent e. If you have a syllable in a word without a vowel, it is probably misspelled.

Studying three-syllable words is good practice not only with spelling, but with listening for vowel and consonant sounds.

Here are 16 three-syllable words you might want to add to your ongoing spelling list. Some of these words, such as dinosaur, would be perfect to illustrate.

Pick four of the words and draw a picture to help you remember the word.

  • exercise
  • dangerous
  • continent
  • newspaper
  • favorite
  • dinosaur
  • family
  • credible
  • electric
  • amazement
  • library
  • dynamite
  • terrible
  • horizon
  • period
  • transition


Here's a rhyme to remember when you are adding -ing to a word.

For example, frame turns into framing. Can you think of more words where the e disappears when -ing is added?

Here's another rule that's pretty easy to remember. When you have a word that ends in c, such as picnic or traffic, you have to add a k before adding -ing or -y to the word.

• Picnic becomes picnicking. We are going on a picnic in March. We enjoy picnicking in the mountains.

• Panic becomes panicking or panicky. I start to panic if I'm going to be late. Sometimes, my panicking makes me forget things and then I'm even later! My family tells me not to be so panicky.

• Traffic becomes trafficking. The policeman had to help guide traffic in the snow and rain. He was also watching for people who were trafficking, or transferring, fruits and vegetables across the state border.

Words to Know


Words are divided into syllables. Say a word out loud, and clap its beats. Good has one beat, or one syllable. Afternoon has three syllables, so it is divided as: afternoon. You can also divide a word between the two middle consonants. The word dinner is divided in between the two n's: din•ner. Again, notice how each beat of the word has a vowel. If you're not sure where to divide a word, the dictionary is the perfect tool to help you!


There are five vowels:There are five vowels: a, e, i, o, and u. In addition, y is sometimes considered a vowel, like in by or hardy. Each word needs a vowel in order to be called a word. One popular word, I is made up of only one vowel!

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