By ANNE DONNELLAre there any rules about spelling correctly? I’m ashamed of the problem I have with that and wonder if there’s any help. Thank you. -Miss Misspell
Don’t be ashamed of your spelling “problem” (your word, not mine); it’s probably something you were born with. All of us have bits of peculiar circuits in our head. Difficulty with spelling mattered very little throughout most of history. Nowadays we have help.
Spell Check on a word processor or computer is not always the answer; you must be able to distinguish between what’s offered and what’s needed. EXAMPLE. Too, to, two. Spell Check also redlines as errors many proper names correctly spelled.
The rule for spelling proper names: It’s up to the parents. Names recorded on birth certificates are how they’ll be legally spelled unless changed legally. Not to say there’s no playing around with this. There’s a delightful story a local retired high school math teacher (Miss BJH) tells. A bright young man named Alan decided to do something special so his name would not be spelled the way any other Alan (or Allen) spelled his. His solution? Add a 3. For the rest of that year, at least, his papers were headed by the name Ala3n.
SPELLING RULES are numerous and longwinded, and, like the old saw about i before e, likely to have lots of exceptions. Many relate to forming plurals or adding suffixes and prefixes. We’ll do those next week. Using mnemonics is strongly suggested (memory trick like pal in principal – “he’s our pal” to separate it from principle.) The best advice: 1. Memorize, memorize, memorize. 2. Use a dictionary OFTEN (I know, I know. If you can’t spell it, you can’t find it. BUT you can become accomplished at finding words if you’ll learn the various letter combinations that sound the same like ex, acc.) 3. When writing without access to a dictionary, as in filling out a job application, avoid words you think you can’t spell correctly. EXPRESS IT ANOTHER WAY. Many people wrongly assume spelling errors can only be a mark of laziness or of poor mental skills. The hint of desperation in today’s question indicates the questioner feels he or she has been painted with that inaccurate brush. A pocket dictionary is not cumbersome; a more expensive, but much more extensive, alternative is a small electronic dictionary. Use the first spelling listed and stick to American spelling, not the variations used in other countries where English is commonly written and spoken. EXAMPLE. Use color, not colour.
HERE’S A LIST OF COMMONLY MISSPELLED WORDS. Accidentally, accommodate, accompanied, accumulate, achievement, acquaintance, acquire, across, address, aggravate, aisle, almost, always, amateur, among, amount, analyze, apologize, apparatus, apparent, appearance, appetite, approaching, appropriate, approximately, arctic, argument, around, arrangement, article, ascend, assistant, athletic, attendance, audience, auxiliary, awkward, barbarous, beginning, believed, benefited, breathe, brilliant, bulletin, buried, business, buy, calendar, candidate, cemetery, certainly, changeable, chief, chosen, column, coming, comma, commemorate, committee, common, community, comparative, compelled, competition, concede, conceive, conscientious, conscious, consider, continuous, controlled, convenience, coolly, correspondence, countries, courteous, criticism, curiosity, dealt, debt, decided, decision, definite, definition, demonstration, dependent, descend, description, desirable, despair, desperate, destroy, develop, dictionary, different, difficulty, dining, disappear, disappoint, disastrous, discipline, diseases, dissatisfied, dissipation, divided, division, doctor, doesn't, doubt, during, efficiency, eighth, eligible, eliminate, embarrass, emphasize, endeavor, engine, entrance, environment, equipped, especially, exaggerated, excellent, excitement, exhausted, existence, explanation, familiar, fascinating, February, finally, foreign, forty, friend, fulfill, fundamental, generally, genius, government, grammar, grievous, guard, handsome, height, helpfulness, hindrance, hoping, humorous, hundred, hurriedly, illegible, illiterate, immediately, immigrant, inadequate, incidentally, incredible, independent, indispensable, influence, intelligence, interesting, interfere, interpreted, interrupted, irresistible, island, itself, knowledge, laboratory, laid, language, legible, leisure, library, lightning, listen, literature, livelihood, loneliness, maintenance, mathematics, maybe, meant, medicine, miniature, minimum, minute, mischievous, misspell, morale, mortgage, mysterious, naturally, necessary, nevertheless, nickel, niece, night, ninety, noisily, noticeable, nowadays, obstacle, occasionally, occurred, occurrence, off, often, omission, omitted, operate, opinion, opportunity, optimistic, original, outrageous, paid, parallel, paralyzed, parliament, particularly, partner, pastime, patience, peculiarity, perform, perhaps, permanent, permissible, perseverance, persistent, personnel, perspiration, persuade, phenomenon, physically, piece, pleasant, politics, portrayed, possession, practically, precede, predecessor, preference, preferred, prejudice, preparations, prescribe, pretense, prevalent, privilege, probably, procedure, proceed, professional, professor, prohibition, prominent, pronunciation, propaganda, propeller, psychology, pursue, puzzle, quantity, quitting, quizzes, realize, really, reasonably, received, recognize, recommend, referred, relieve, religious, remembrance, repetition, resource, restaurant, rhythm, ridiculous, sacrifice, safety, satisfactory, scarcely, schedule, secretary, seize, sense, separate, sergeant, serviceable, severely, shining, similar, simultaneously, sincerely, sophomore, source, specimen, speech, stopping, strength, strenuously, stretched, strictly, studying, submit, subsequent, succeed, successful, superintendent, supersede, suppress, surely, surprise, syllable, synonym, temperament, than, therefore, together, toward, tragedy, transferring, tremendous, tries, truly, twelfth, undoubtedly, unnecessary, until, usually, valiant, valleys, valuable, varieties, vegetable, vengeance, view, vigorous, village, villain, whole, wholly, women, worrying, writing, written.