Common Spelling Problems in English

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Spelling words in English is challenging work. As a matter of fact, many native speakers of English have problems with spelling correctly. One of the main reasons for this is that many, many English words are NOT spelled as they are spoken. This difference between pronunciation and spelling causes a lot of confusion. The combination "ough" provides an excellent example:

  • Tough - pronounced - tuf (the 'u' sounding as in 'cup')
  • Through - pronounced - throo
  • Dough - pronounced - doe (long 'o')
  • Bought - pronounced - bawt

It's enough to make anyone crazy! Here are some of the most common problems when spelling words in English.

Three Syllables Pronounced as Two Syllables

  • Aspirin - pronounced - asprin
  • Different - pronounced - diffrent
  • Every - pronounced - evry

Four Syllables Pronounced as Three Syllables

  • Comfortable - pronounced - comfrtable
  • Temperature - pronounced - temprature
  • Vegetable - pronounced - vegtable

Words That Sound the Same (Homophones)

  • two, to, too - pronounced - too
  • knew, new - pronounced - niew
  • through, threw - pronounced - throo
  • not, knot, naught - pronounced - not

Same Sounds - Different Spellings

'Eh' as in 'Let'

  • let
  • bread
  • said

'Ai' as in 'I'

  • I
  • sigh
  • buy
  • either

The following letters are silent when pronounced.

  • D - sandwich, Wednesday
  • G - sign, foreign
  • GH - daughter, light, right
  • H - why, honest, hour
  • K - know, knight, knob
  • L - should, walk, half
  • P - cupboard, psychology
  • S - island
  • T - whistle, listen, fasten
  • U - guess, guitar
  • W - who, write, wrong

Unusual Letter Combinations

  • GH = 'F': cough, laugh, enough, rough
  • CH = 'K': chemistry, headache, Christmas, stomach
  • EA = 'EH': breakfast, head, bread, instead
  • EA = 'EI': steak, break
  • EA = 'EE': weak, streak
  • OU = 'UH': country, double, enough