The difficulties of English spelling

English is one of the most difficult languages to write. To be sure, no human language is written exactly the way it is pronounced; but none presents the problems that English does. In chicagobearsjerseyspop part these problems result from Fun the phonetic changes English has undergone in past times (historical linguists speak Dupong of the “great vowel shift”); in part they also result from the paucity of letters in our alphabet. Other languages use diacritical marks (e.g. Czech c vs. č), or use alphabets with entirely different characters to indicate variations in pronunciation. Not surprisingly, many words in the English language are commonly misspelled. (I remember spelling “prologue” as “PORGLUE”! The word was unfamiliar to me, and АБО I had never heard it pronounced; and besides, I was trying to remember how it was spelled. Incidentally, this word can also be spelled “prolog.”)

Spelling and pronunciation inconsistencies in words of two classes are especially notable. One is English place names—Gloucester, Worcester, Greenwich. The other is nautical terms—boatswain (bosun), topgallantsail (t’ga’n’s’l), forecastle (fo’c’s’l). There seems to be no satisfactory explanation for such anomalous pronunciations.

Some words have more than one acceptable spelling, such as “prologue/prolog” noted above. However, many of these variations are regional: The word we Americans write as “humor” is spelled “humour” in Great Britain (and also in Canada). Other words are pronounced alike but spelled differently, and have different meanings (such as stair/stare, affect/effect).

But to for the most part, spelling can Summer be predicted using simple rules, such as when to drop final e and when to retain it, or when to change final y to i. It then becomes a matter of learning the exceptions to these rules. Long, complex words can also be broken down into simpler words or units. For instance, “hyperthermophile” can be seen to consist of the units “hyper-” (over, above); “thermo-” (heat); and “-phile” (to love).

In any event, you should use a spellchecker to be Hard-to-Spell certain of yourself. Word processing programs—such as Microsoft Word—are equipped with such a program, which can be found in the Tools menu. With the Options menu you can also have it check as you go, in which case erroneous or questionable spellings will be underlined in wavy red lines.

You can also perform an Internet spell check. Sites you can use include,, and An Internet Tamiya spell check may be more reliable than one in a word processing program, because new words are constantly being invented and online sites can be updated easily.

One more thing. Do not rely on so-called “spelling tricks,” such as spell matching stationERy with papER, or “The princiPAL is a PAL;” it will only confuse you.

But whether you perform your spell check with a software spellchecker or by means of a website, always be sure your spelling is up to par. Otherwise, readers will not think very highly of you, and probably not bother to go on reading.