Spelling Pattern – Rules

Spelling Pattern

Rules for this pattern



Adding suffixes that start with a vowel letter to words with more than one syllable

If the last syllable of a word is stressed and ends with one consonant letter which has just one vowel letter before it, the final consonant letter is doubled before any ending beginning with a vowel letter is added. The consonant letter is not doubled if the syllable is unstressed.

nicest, happiest, adoring, funniest, copier, improving, sunnier, required, beginning, beginner, gardener, gardening forgetting, forgotten, committing, multiplying, preferred, limiting, limited, limitation, absorbent, admired, allowance, assistant, controlled, controller, controlling, coverage, creative, criticism, decorative, deferred deferring, disturbance, heroism, inquired, inquiring, investigator, journalism, narrative, narrator, observant, occurred, occurring, occurrence, producer, provider, relative, thunderous, traveller, vandalism, visitor, polishing

The /i/ sound spelt y elsewhere other than at the end of words


myth, gym, Egypt, pyramid, mystery, dynasty, mystic, symbol, synagogue, synonym, antonym, mysterious, mythical, syrup, cymbal, typical, cycle, symptom, tyre, rhythm, python, hymn, system, crystal, gymnast, gymnastics, rhyme, idyllic, cyclone, physical

The short sound /u/ spelt with the letters ou


touch, young, double, trouble, couple, country, cousin, courage, encourage, flourish, nourish, rough, tough, enough, mysterious, disastrous, famous, tremendous, fabulous, hazardous, ridiculous, southern, dangerous, enormous, generous, nervous, jealous

Prefixes (group of letters before a word)

UN, DIS and MIS all have negative meanings
































RE means ‘again’ or ‘back’










IN, IL, IM and IR can mean ‘not’ and ‘in/into’













SUB means under




INTER means ‘between’ or ‘among’




SUPER means above




ANTI means against




AUTO means ‘self’ or ‘own’



UN – unsuitably, unable, unnecessary, unwell, unusual, unhappy, unofficial, untidy, unfriendly, undo, unpleasant, untie, unbelievable, unzip, unorganised, unsure, unqualified, unwrap, unlimited, unfair, unknown, unwelcome, unlikely, unnoticed, unlocked, unseen, unpick, unlucky, untrained, unlock


DIS – disappear, disappoint, disobey, distrust, disqualify, disagree, dishonest, discontinue, disapprove, disorder, dishearten, dislike, displease, disconnect, disable, disadvantage, disbelieve, disbelief, disown, disinfect, disgrace, discourage, disallow


MIS – misbehave, mistake, misunderstand, misunderstood, misfire, misbelieve, mishear, misconception, misread, misfortune, misuse, misinterpret, miscopy, misaddress, mispronounce, misadventure, misquote, miscalculate, miscount, misdirect, misinform, misjudge, misplace, misconduct, mislead, misspell, mischarge



recycle, refill, rebuild, replay, repay, reconsider, replace, rearrange, reassure, return, recapture, reuse, rebound, redo, reconstruct, rewire, reinforcement, rewind, repossess, renew, revisit, reheat, rewrite, reclaim, recount, reform, re-join, reunion, refresh, readjust, redecorate, reappear


IN – inactive, incorrect, inedible, insufficient, inconsiderate, independent


IL – illegal, illegible, illness, illogical, illiterate, illustrate


IM – immature, immortal, impossible, impatient, imperfect


IR – irregular, irrelevant, irresponsible



SUB – subdivide, subheading, submarine, submerge



INTER – interact, intercity, international, interrelated



SUPER – supermarket, superman, superstar



ANTI – antiseptic, anticlockwise, antisocial



AUTO – autobiography, autograph, automatic

The suffix -ation

The suffix –ation is added to verbs to form nouns.

information, adoration, sensation, sensational, preparation, admiration, inspiration, inspirational, variation, frustration, deprivation, improvisation, innovation, determination, accommodation, anticipation, alliteration, collaboration, complication, confrontation, desperation, exclamation, recommendation, revelation, exaggeration, temptation, manipulation, appreciation, dedication, fascination, hesitation, illustration, imagination, multiplication, vibration, organisation, separation, decoration, celebration, combination, education, examination, expectation, exploration, generation, identification, observation, obligation, occupation, operation, situation, transportation, conversation, population, preparation, punctuation, relation, reputation, creation, nation, location, station, vacation, national, nationality


The suffix –ly

The suffix –ly is added to an adjective to form an adverb. The rules already learnt still apply.


The suffix –ly starts with a consonant letter, so it is added straight on to most root words.

finally, comically, suddenly, importantly, crazily, dimly, ghastly, secondly, firstly, thoroughly, extraordinarily, ferociously, anxiously, creepily, gratefully, desirably, instantly, quickly, friendly, deadly, elderly, likely, lovely, unfriendly, ghostly, heavenly, kindly, leisurely, wobbly, lonely, atrociously, actually, carefully, generally, originally, gradually, slowly, physically, frequently, gingerly, highly, particularly, perfectly, smoothly, approximately, extremely, angrily, cautiously, cheerfully, courageously, crossly, cruelly, defiantly, doubtfully, elegantly, enthusiastically, foolishly, frantically, gently, gladly, gracefully, happily, hungrily, merrily, nervously, sadly, safely, shyly, solemnly, weakly, wildly, punctually, recently, annually, constantly, daily, hourly, monthly, occasionally, regularly, repeatedly, usually, yearly, completely, entirely, totally, mostly, easily, hopefully, shortly, sharply, carelessly, seriously, scarcely, carefully, wonderfully, swiftly, softly, currently, considerately, competently, effortlessly, competently, confidently, confidentially, comfortably, angrily, humbly, nobly, basically, dramatically


The suffixes sure and ture

The ending sounding like /zure/ is always spelt –sure.




The ending sounding like /chure/ is often spelt –ture, but check that the word is not a root word ending in (t)ch with an er ending – e.g. teacher, catcher, richer, stretcher

measure, treasure, pleasure, enclosure, leisure, assure, reassure, pressure, unsure, sure,



creature, furniture, picture, nature, adventure, feature, lecture, structure, capture, moisture, fracture, mixture, future, texture, puncture, sculpture, culture, fixture,  posture, torture, vulture, mature, departure, venture


Endings spelt sion

If the ending sounds like /zion/, it is spelt as –sion.

division, invasion, confusion, decision, collision, television, vision, excursion, exclusion, delusion, conversion, omission, possession, extension, admission, passion, occasion, confession, conclusion, impression, expression, permission, provision, session, supervision, mansion, discussion, expansion, explosion


The suffix ous

Sometimes the root word is obvious and the usual rules apply for adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters. Sometimes there is no obvious root word.

 –our is changed to –or before –ous is added.


A final ‘e’ of the root word must be kept if the /dʒ/ sound of ‘g’ is to be kept. If there is an /i:/ sound before the –ous ending, it is usually spelt as i, but a few words have e.



poisonous, dangerous, mountainous, famous, various tremendous, enormous, jealous humorous, glamorous, vigorous courageous, outrageous, serious, obvious, curious, hideous, spontaneous, courteous, infamous, vicious, ridiculous, ludicrous, raucous, boisterous, hazardous, mischievous, marvellous, miraculous, hideous, perilous, monotonous, generous, momentous, gorgeous, tremendous


Endings spelt –tion, -sion, -ssion and –cian

Strictly speaking, the suffixes are – ion and –ian. Clues about whether to put t, s, ss or c before these suffixes often come from the last letter or letters of the root word.


–tion is the most common spelling. It is used if the root word ends in t or te.









–ssion is used if the root word ends in ss or –mit.


–sion is used if the root word ends in d or se.




Exceptions: attend – attention, intend – intention. –cian is used if the root word ends in c or cs.





invention, injection, action, hesitation, completion, attention,

intention, creation, location, nation, question, station, subtraction, vacation, addition, condition, emotion, foundation, competition, registration, destination, examination, expectation, exploration, obligation, proportion, satisfaction, convention, transportation, solution, graduation, reception, recreation, resolution, portion, proportion, selection, suggestion, collection, direction, humiliation, situation, conversation, completion, decoration




expression, discussion, confession, permission, admission expansion, extension, comprehension, tension





musician, electrician, magician, politician, mathematician



Words with the k sound spelt ch


scheme, chorus, chemist, echo, character, ache, anchor, chaos, monarch, orchid, stomach, architect, chemistry, orchestra, mechanic, technical, technology, school


Words with the sh sound spelt ch


chef, chalet, machine, brochure, chute, parachute, chandelier, charade, penchant


Words ending with gue and que


fatigue, league, intrigue, plague, rogue, tongue, vague, vogue, catalogue, dialogue, monologue, colleague


antique, unique, boutique, picturesque, grotesque, plaque, cheque, queue


Words with the /s/ sound spelt sc


science, scene, discipline, fascinate, crescent, ascent, descent, scent, scenery, scented, scissors, ascend, descend, fascinate, muscle, obscene, adolescent


Words with the /eɪ/ sound spelt ei, eigh, or ey


vein, weigh, eight, neighbour, they, obey, prey, convey, survey, reins, veil, reign, neigh, weight, sleigh, freight, eighteen, reindeer, beige


Words that sound like shus ending in cious or tious ending

Not many common words end like this. If the root word ends in –ce, the /ʃ/ sound is usually spelt as c – e.g. vice – vicious, grace – gracious, space – spacious, malice – malicious.

Exception: anxious.

conscious, precious, suspicious, delicious, vicious, spacious, gracious, ferocious, malicious, tenacious, ambitious, cautious, infectious, nutritious, pretentious, fictitious, superstitious, fractious, vexatious, anxious


Endings which sound like /ʃəl/

–cial is common after a vowel letter and –tial after a consonant letter, but there are some exceptions.


Exceptions: initial, financial, commercial, provincial (the spelling of the last three is clearly related to finance, commerce and province).


social, special, official, financial, commercial, crucial, artificial, beneficial, superficial, facial, potential, essential, initial, substantial, partial, confidential, impartial, torrential, palatial, martial


rds ending in –ant, –ance/–ancy, –ent, –ence/–ency  

Use –ant and –ance/–ancy if there is a related word with a /æ/ or /eɪ/ sound in the right position; –ation endings are often a clue.




Use –ent and –ence/–ency after soft c (/s/ sound), soft g (/dʒ/ sound) and qu, or if there is a related word with a clear /ɛ/ sound in the right position.



There are many words, however, where the above guidance does not help. These words just have to be learnt.


observant, observance, (observation), expectant (expectation), hesitant, hesitancy (hesitation), tolerant, tolerance (toleration), substance (substantial)



innocent, innocence, decent, decency, frequent, frequency, confident, confidence (confidential), violent, violence






assistant, assistance, obedient, obedience, independent, independence


Words ending in –able and –ible Words ending in –ably and –ibly

The –able/–ably endings are far more common than the –ible/–ibly endings. As with –ant and –ance/–ancy, the – able ending is used if there is a related word ending in –ation.


If the –able ending is added to a word ending in –ce or –ge, the e after the c or g must be kept as those letters would otherwise have their ‘hard’ sounds (as in cap and gap) before the a of the –able ending.


 The –able ending is usually but not always used if a complete root word can be heard before it, even if there is no related word ending in –ation. The first five examples opposite are obvious; in reliable, the complete word rely is heard, but the y changes to i in accordance with the rule.


The –ible ending is common if a complete root word can’t be heard before it but it also sometimes occurs when a complete word can be heard (e.g. sensible).

adorable/adorably (adoration), applicable/applicably (application), considerable/considerably (consideration), tolerable/tolerably (toleration), probable/probably



changeable, noticeable, forcible, legible






dependable, comfortable, understandable, reasonable, enjoyable, reliable


possible/possibly, horrible/horribly, terrible/terribly, visible/visibly, incredible/incredibly, sensible/sensibly


Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words ending in –fer

The r is doubled if the –fer is still stressed when the ending is added.



The r is not doubled if the –fer is no longer stressed.

referring, referred, referral, preferring, preferred, transferring, transferred


reference, referee, preference, transference


Use of the hyphen

Hyphens can be used to join a prefix to a root word, especially if the prefix ends in a vowel letter and the root word also begins with one.




Co- to show it is done with someone else (Co-operate, co-ordinate)


Re- to show it is done again (re-examine, re-evaluate, re-employ)


co-ordinate, re-enter, co-operate, co-own, re-examine, re-evaluate, re-employ

Words with the /i:/ sound spelt ei after c

The ‘i before e except after c’ rule applies to words where the sound spelt by ei is /i:/.


Exceptions: protein, caffeine, seize (and either and neither if pronounced with an initial /i:/ sound).


Also good to know:


Ie after c


ei not preceded by c

deceive, conceive, receive, perceive, ceiling, receipt, deceit, conceit,







species, science, sufficient


seize, vein, weird, their, feisty, foreign

Words containing the letter-string ough

ough is one of the trickiest spellings in English – it can be used to spell a number of different sounds.


They have been split into groups based on how the ough sounds.

ought, bought, thought, thoughtful, nought, brought, fought


rough, roughest, tough, toughest, enough




though, although, dough, doughy




thorough, borough


plough, bough


Words with ‘silent’ letters (i.e. letters whose presence cannot be predicted from the pronunciation of the word)














Unstressed letter sounds but not necessarily silent letters

knight, doorknob, knowledge, knee, knit, knobbly, knuckle, answer, bomb, comb, climb, crumb, debt, doubt, lamb, limb, numb, plumber, tomb, subtle, thumb, fasten, glisten, listen, nestle, whistle, island, solemn, thistle, knife, gnome, whale, sword, honest, kneel, rhyme, when, what, which, witch, wheat, gnaw, gnarl, gnash, knead, knock, ascend, ascent, conscience, conscious, crescent, descend, descent, muscle, scene, scent, scissors, sandwich, Christmas, design, foreign, reign, ache, chaos, character, anchor, chemist, chemical, choir, psychic, stomach, scheme, school, chorus, autumn, column, condemn, hymn, receipt, bristle, castle, hustle, jostle, moisten, often, rustle, soften, straight, Wednesday,  whistle, wrap, wreck, wrestle, wriggle, wrinkle, wrist, write, wrong, bustle, biscuit, build, built, circuit, disguise, guess, guest, guide, guilt, guilty, guitar, silhouette, know, wrapper, mortgage, swordfish, resign


Family, boundary, raspberry, listener, different, separate, desperate, factory, generally, generous, government, interesting, explanatory, environment, secretary, jewellery, poisonous, company, desperate, definitely, difference, voluntary, reference, temperature

Homophones and near-homophones (Years 3 and 4)


























Homophones and other words that are often confused (Years 5 and 6)

In the pairs of words opposite, nouns end –ce and verbs end –se.


Advice and advise provide a useful clue as the word advise (verb) is pronounced with a /z/ sound – which could not be spelt c.































Year 5 and 6 word list

This is a bank of words that children should know in Year 5 and 6. They are often provided as a wordbank during writing sessions and children should be confident in them.

accommodate accompany according achieve aggressive amateur ancient apparent appreciate attached available average awkward bargain bruise category cemetery committee communicate community competition conscience conscious controversy convenience correspond criticise curiosity definite desperate determined develop dictionary disastrous embarrass environment equip, equipped, equipment, especially exaggerate excellent existence explanation familiar foreign forty frequently government guarantee harass hindrance identity immediate individual interfere interrupt language leisure lightning marvellous mischievous muscle necessary neighbour nuisance occupy occur opportunity parliament persuade physical prejudice privilege profession programme pronunciation queue recognise recommend relevant restaurant rhyme rhythm sacrifice secretary shoulder signature sincere, sincerely soldier stomach sufficient suggest symbol system temperature thorough twelfth variety vegetable vehicle yacht