Guide to Spelling: Hooked on Phonics

See and Say

Some words are misspelled because they are often mispronounced. Sometimes extra letters are added; other times, letters are omitted. How many of the following words do you mispronounce?

  1. Leaving out a consonant: February, recognize, surprise, government, library, eighth, Arctic, candidate, probably.
  2. Adding an unnecessary vowel: forty, pronunciation, schedule, chimney, disastrous, umbrella.
  3. Leaving out an unstressed syllable: accidentally, superintendent, incidentally.
  4. Leaving out an unstressed vowel: temperature, vegetable, original, miniature, interesting, diamond, chocolate.

At other times, you're not at fault at all: The words are spelled differently from the way they sound. With such unphonetic words, you're working without a net. There are no rules, only spelling techniques like memorization and visualization. Of course, there are always dictionaries.

These unphonetic words fall into three main categories: silent letters, tricky-dickie word endings, and y/i use. And here they are …

Silent Letters

Never seem to meet the people you want to see, but can't get rid of the same old pests? The same is true of spelling words. Keeping this truism in mind, here are some words with silent letters that have no doubt been annoying you for years. Only now, you know why.

Quoth the Maven

Homonyms and homophones are especially tricky to spell and use correctly.

Tricky-Dickie Word Endings

The following words confound even the best spellers because they don't end the way we think they should:

Y/I Use

Here are some words that sound like they contain an i. No such luck; each has a y creating the i sound.

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.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!