Guide to Spelling: Hooked on Phonics

Follow the Rules! Spelling Rules

Who can trust the rules of life? You really can go swimming right after you eat; men do buy the cow even after they've gotten the milk for free. Spelling, fortunately, has some valid rules. Here are three nifty ones that will serve you well.

  1. The -ceed/-cede rule. There are only three verbs in English that end in -ceed: succeed, proceed, and exceed. All the other verbs with that sound end in -cede. For example:
    • secede
    • intercede
    • concede
    • accede
    • cede
    • precede
  2. The -ful rule. Remember that the sound full at the end of a word is spelled with only one l. For example:
    • careful
    • graceful
    • healthful
    • hopeful
  3. i before e except after c … Remember this baby from the eighth grade? (Or were you too busy putting Clearasil on your nose and ogling the teacher to pay attention to something as mundane as spelling?) Here's the rule (and it even has a bouncy rhyme to it):
    • i before e except after c or when sounded as a as in neighbor and weigh
    • Here are some words that fit the rule.
    i before eexcept after csounded as a
    achieveconceitneighbor
    believeceilingweigh
    siegereceivefreight
    reliefconceivereign
    griefdeceitsleigh
    chiefdeceivevein
    fierceperceiveweight
    fiendreceipt
    piecereceive
    shriek
    • And here are some words that don't:
    • either
    • neither
    • foreign
    • height
    • leisure
    • seize
    • weird
    • (Hey, is anything perfect? I never promised you a rose garden, only some neat-o spelling rules.)
Danger, Will Robinson

There's only one English verb that ends in -sede: supersede.

Danger, Will Robinson

The one exception to the “full” rule? The word full itself!

ieeeeeeeeeeeee!

Add ie or ei to complete each word.

1. f____rce 7. n____ghbor
2. s____ge 8. c____ling
3. bel____ve 9. for____gn
4. rec____pt 10. rel____f
5. conc____t 11. w____rd
6. dec____ve 12. v____n
Answers
1. fierce 7. neighbor
2. siege 8. ceiling
3. believe 9. foreign
4. receipt 10. relief
5. conceit 11. weird
6. deceive 12. vein
book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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