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Good communication skills start with using proper grammar and spelling. They’re central for your career growth. 

People who communicate well stand head and shoulders above their peers.

The ability to write well starts with good spelling. It isn’t always easy as English is fraught with inconsistencies.

But if you want to be respected for your communication skills, good spelling is important.

The odds will be with you if you have a basic understanding of Latin.

Here are basic, but important spelling tips:

When to spell words with “i” and “e”

Typically, the “i” goes before “e” except after the letter “c” as in spelling the word, receive.

However, that only goes when the word sounds like “eee” also as in the word, ceiling, or when the work sounds like “ay.”

The “e-i” after a “c” is pronounced differently as in the word, efficient, the “i” is spelled first before the “e.”

Even without the letter “c,” the “e” will precede the “i” when the words are pronounced with an “ay” as in the word, feign.

Other rule exceptions to put the “e” before “i” include the words, their or weird.

Spelling of nouns

Use “acy” in most words that sound like testacy. But use “asy” in four words: apostasy, ecstasy, fantasy and idiosyncrasy.

If the last part of a word doesn’t stand by itself, normally you should spell “ary” as in corollary.

If you want to use a word that’s related to a noun ending in “er,” it will be spelled correctly with a “y,” as in the words, brewery and blustery.

Some adjectives and nouns that end with a pronunciation of “ory,” with words ending in “or,” simply add a “y” for “ory.” Thus, the word, contributor, becomes contributory.

Nouns that end with “ion” such as introduction become introductory.

Use “sion” in words that sound like confusion as well as any suffix that follows “I” or “n”.

But use “tion” for words that end with a “t” such as invent that becomes invention. Also use “tion” for words that end with a pronunciation of “shun” such production; and “tion” will also follow any letter except for “I” or “n” or “r.”

To turn a singular noun ending in a hard “ch” or “f” into a plural form, simply add the letter “s” – for example, monarch becomes monarchs or chef becomes chefs.

For words that end in a soft “ch,” or words that end in “sh,” “s,” “x,” and “z,” add “es.” For example, detach becomes detaches.

Spelling of verbs

Note: a present participle pertains to current action. For example, “I am going to the store.” So, to combine the present participle with the past tense of a verb, add “ing.”

To create the present participle to an infinitive, add “ed” as in “I have succeeded.”

Similarly, if you’re using a verb that ends in a silent “e” as in the word, bike, delete the “e” and add “ed” or “ing.” So bike becomes biked or biking.

If a verb has just one syllable like the word, stop, or it ends with a stressed syllable with one vowel and a consonant such as the word, prefer, you should add another consonant before you add “ed” or “ing.” Stop becomes stopped or stopping and prefer becomes preferred and preferring.

“When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible. But when it’s flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.”

-Marilyn vos Savant

Verbs with a hard “c” as in the word, panic, you must add the letter “k.” Panic then becomes panicked or panicking.

Add “ance” to any verb that concludes with a “y,” “ure,” or “ear.” For instance, rely becomes reliance, assure becomes assurance, and clear becomes clearance.

To turn a verb that ends in “ere” into a noun, insert “ence” at the end of the word, For instance, adhere becomes adherence.

Another example to convert a verb such as the word, vacate, into a noun, use “ancy” or “ency.” Therefore, spell it vacancy.

Conversely, in order to change a noun such as vacancy into a verb, add “ant” for vacant.

When using the letter “q”

“Q” must always precede the letter “u.” For example, here’s the spelling of unique.

Use of “ify”

Always us “ify,” except for these four words: Liquefy, putrefy, stupefy, and rarefy.

Use of adjectives and adverbs

Normally, a word with the suffix, “able,” remains the same such as the word, relate for relatable. But if you use a word ending with an “e,” you drop the “e” and add “able.”

Use “ible” if the word can’t stand alone or ends in a hard “c,” which is pronounced like a “K,” or hard “g.” A typical word is illegible.

Use of “ful”

Notice adjectives such as the word, beautiful, only have one “l” in “ful.” But if you turn it into an adverb, words ending in “ly,” it would be spelled beautifully.

Use of “ily”

If the adjective has two syllables ending in “y,” such as the word, angry, and you want to change it to an adverb, then angry becomes angrily.

Use of “ble”

If your adjective ends with a consonant and an “e,” delete the “e” and insert “ly.” An example: horrible then becomes horribly.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related writing tips:

25 Best Practices for Better Business Writing — If you want to accelerate your career or turbo-charge your business, one of your priorities should be good communication. Good writing is necessary in a myriad of ways, including letters, advertising copy and presentations. A lack of writing skills will can hold you back or even hurt your career.

Your Career: 10 Tips for Writing Better Business E-mails — Do you want to be a standout as a business e-mail writer? To enhance your career, it’s important to write effective e-mails and memos. You don’t have to be an English major to write effectively.

Are You Struggling to Write Great Cover Letters? Here’s How — If you want to write a cover letter that will entice employers to consider you, there are several precautions to take. Otherwise, you risk sending a letter that employers won’t want to read. Here are seven strategies.

Rock in Your Marketing Messages with 5 Writing Tips — In this digital age of consumer overload, words are powerful – if they’re used strategically. The challenge is to help your prospective customers quickly understand your message.

11 Best Practices to Profit from Writing a Business White Paper — When you’re writing a case study for a client or you’re commissioned to write a white paper — there are best practices — then, there are only attempts at shameless promotion of a biased idea. You’ll want readers to perceive the former.

“When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible. But when it’s flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.”

-Marilyn vos Savant


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.