Solve tricky spellings

Home learning focus

To learn some tools and techniques that will help with tricky spellings and revise how to use plural nouns.

This lesson includes:

  • two revision videos on tricky spellings

  • four activities

Learn

There are over a million words in the English language, so spelling them all correctly is no mean feat. Even the best spellers will make an occasional slip.

Watch this short clip to remind yourself about some of the trickier ones.

Learn how to use tools and techniques to help you memorise tricky spellings.

Some words are difficult to spell because they don’t follow any spelling rules or they have silent letters. Over the last thousand years English spelling has been influenced by lots of different languages, including French, German and Latin. Because English has borrowed words from other languages, lots of complex spelling patterns have developed.

There are tools and techniques that you can use to improve your spelling. These tools include:

  • mnemonics
  • acrostics
  • words within words
  • sounding it out

There are many different reasons a word can be tricky to spell.

  • They may have silent letters, like the letter b in the word subtle.
  • They may have double letters that you also cannot hear, for example, in the words disappoint and accommodation.
  • They may not follow a pattern or spelling rule, for example, the word ancient does not follow the rule - i before e except after c.

Homophones are words that have the same sound, but a different spelling and meaning. These words might lead you to use the wrong spelling in your writing. For example, many writers confuse the words your and you’re.

What tools can you use to remember tricky spellings?

Mnemonic

A mnemonic is a tool that helps you to memorise something specific, like how to spell a word.

For example, the following is a mnemonic for the word necessary - one collar and two sleeves . This mnemonic could help you remember that the word necessary has one C and two S’s , which enables you to remember the tricky parts of this spelling.

Mnemonics can also be used to remember tricky homophone spellings. For example, their is a possessive word - it has the word heir in it - which is someone who may inherit lots of possessions.

Acrostic

You can also use an acrostic - a phrase you create from the letters that make up a difficult word. For example, for the word rhythm take the letters R - H - Y - T - H - M and make the phrase Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move with each word of the phrase beginning with the letters which spell the word rhythm .

Words within words

It can also be useful to remember shorter words within the tricky spelling.

For example, the word bra in library is a memorable way to remember the tricky part of this spelling.

It’s also useful to remember that the word independent has the following smaller words inside it - depend, dependent, dent .

The word conscience can be tricky to spell. However, if you remember to always include the word science , it becomes easier to remember the correct spelling.

Splitting Wednesday into the sections Wed - nes - day as you say it can help you to remember its spelling.

Sounding it out

It can be helpful to sound out the tricky parts of a word, for example Wed - nes - day or Feb- ru -ary. The word isn’t usually said like this, but giving emphasis to the sound can help it stick in your memory.

Plurals can cause a few problems too.

Watch the following clip to remind yourself of the rules.

Learn the rules and patterns you need to turn a noun into a plural noun.

Remember

  • Most nouns follow rules to turn them into plural nouns.

  • Some plural nouns are irregular and can be difficult to spell, whilst others stay the same.

Practise

Activity 1

Check your understanding in this activity by highlighting the six correct words to complete each of the sentences.

Activity 2

Take this quiz to check your understanding of how to tackle difficult spellings.

Activity 3

Using a piece of paper, write down twenty objects - nouns - that you can see around you. Try to use some that have those y, s, sh, ch or x endings.

Example:

  • teddy

  • box

  • torch

Now add the plural form, applying the correct spelling pattern.

Finally, write a paragraph describing your surroundings using some of those words. Do the spellings come naturally? Check your spellings at the end.

Top tip

If a noun ends in an s, sh, ch or x then you just add an e and an s on the end of the word. A useful way to remember this, is that words ending with a hissing, buzzing or whooshing sound end in an es when they become plural.

For example:

The shelves above me contain boxes of treasures from when I was younger.

Activity 4

Finally, complete these questions from Collins.

You can either print out these questions or write your answers on a piece of paper.

After you have completed the questions, mark your work using a dictionary.

Spelling activites

Where next?

In this lesson you have revised some of the trickier spellings in the English language and experimented with plurals.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you with tricky spellings.

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