Five Tips to Better Spelling in English

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 21st Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Languages

With the internet, blogging, and media connections, the written word is more important than ever. The words we use -- plus our mechanics and our grammar, -- are the first and sometimes the only impression that others have of us. Here are some tips for your typing to be top notch.

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Reading cannot ever be emphasized enough. It really doesn't matter what you read. I could teach an entire grammar and mechanics class using nothing but memes -- both pointing out the double meanings that bring the humor and pointing out the errors that make some memes funny for the wrong reasons.

Read what you like -- find what you like and read it. If you like comic books, read comic books. If you like mystery or drama, read that. If reading is difficult for you, look in the graphic novel section (normally found in "Teen" or "Young Adult / YA") of your local library.

Like any skill, improving reading skills takes time, but the effort will pay off forever.

Play Word Games

Whether your online friends are fanatics of Words With Friends, or you are an old-school person who prefers word searches, any word games will help you improve your spelling skills.

For example, a crossword puzzle will help you associate words in different ways. The crosswords in daily newspapers often also include current people or places that have been in the news. And if you are unsure of an answer, using the internet to help you out is not cheating -- it's a valuable learning tool. Just try to retain the information you searched once the crossword is finished.

Games like Scrabble, Boggle, and WWF allow you to shuffle letters and come up with different combinations (don't be afraid to use the "shuffle" button when playing WWF -- it is important to use the tools you have available). Though it is a lot of fun to play with friends, you can sharpen your skills by battling yourself. Repetition is key to success with any activity.

Take words apart

Most people are either visual (what they see) or auditory (whey they hear) learners. Whichever is true in your case, you can use it to become a better speller. Break up words into their parts. If you are a visual learner, you might break up words differently than an auditory learner, and that's OK.

Here's an example:


A visual learner might immediately see the word tent. Tent is easy to visualize and easy to spell. Then, the visual learner would add po making potent -- something strong. Finally, the visual learner will see I, AL. The visual learner will picture a person (Al) introducing him or herself, and this will help the visual learner remember that "i" comes before "a" on the ending.

An auditory learner will attack this word differently. Probably the auditory learner will focus on the three syllables, po-ten-tial. An auditory learner might remember that tion is pronounced shun and so the sound shall or shull at the end of this word is tial. The first sound po, might make the auditory learner recall a po' boy or a certain Kung Fu Panda. For ten, an auditory learner would probably hear the number 10.

Whether a person attacks this word from a visual or auditory perspective, if the end result is written p-o-t-e-n-t-i-a-l, the reader will know what word was meant when these letters are written.

Look for patterns

Using the word potential, create parts using visual and auditory methods. Once you have learned a few patterns, you can apply them to other words. Your brain will file away these patterns for you to be able to access later. Developing several different patterns will help your brain make more connections, so new words will also come faster as you use this skill.

Potential Patterns for Potential:

Words with PO:

Words with TENT :

words with IAL:

Use small word tactics to solve bigger word challenges

Whether you are a visual or auditory learner, using phonics (how words sound) along with memorizing patterns can help you spell better. Most people think of phonics as single-syllable words (The fat cat sat on the tan mat). But phonics can also help you sound out longer words.


dys -- sounds like dis
fun -- enjoyment, playtime
c -- in front of "i" or "y", c makes the soft "s" sound; otherwise, it says "k"
tion -- "tion" sounds like "shun"
al -- my friend Al
put "fun", "c," and "tion" together to make "function"
then add "al" -- something that works is "functional"
"dis" and "dys" mean "not"

not functional = D-Y-S-F-U-N-C-T-I-O-N-A-L

Practice makes Proficient

There is a saying that "practice makes perfect." We know what is meant, but that saying is misleading. Typos and fatigue can make many errors even for the most practiced writers.

However, proficient means skilled, and that is what we writers want in our quest to be understood online. We must be proficient in our spelling and grammar choices, so that our occasional typos are forgiven and our messages are understood.


Thank you to my fellow Wikinutters, for your continued comments and encouragement.
Thanks to the Moderators, who have to wade through lots of stuff everyday.
Thanks to Wikipedia, for providing many links to promote further reading and understanding.
Thanks to morgueFile, for creative images.
And many thanks to ANYONE who comments on this page!! I appreciate you!


English, Grammar, Mehanics, Spelling, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
21st Sep 2013 (#)

Phyl, this is a good article and should encourage many people in improving their English, however it does leave out one segment, those with dyslexia who do not see words in the same way and breaking down words does no happen the same way.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
21st Sep 2013 (#)

Except that my husband and I are both dyslexic. However, because we learned to break down words into parts before we ever entered Kindergarten we are not affected like someone who didn't start learning until the start of formal education. For my part, I read along with books on tape, and put my hands flat on either side of the book. By training my eye to look from thumbnail to thumbnail, I got the letters to stop wiggling and could read correctly. When I got older, I accomplished the same thing by turning my texts upside-down. It used to freak out my teachers, but I could read as well upside down as right side up, and I learned to write both ways as well. Talk about turning a "learning disability" into a neat party trick!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
21st Sep 2013 (#)

Good evening, Phyl. Thank you for the article primarily, but just as importantly, sharing how you and your husband learned to deal with your dyslexia.

If any comments I make help encourage you, then here is another one, or two…..keep writing, keep educating us, and well, just keep up the good work : ) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Connie McKinney
21st Sep 2013 (#)

What great advice, Phyl. Thanks for sharing. I also think it's so inspiring to learn that you have dyslexia yet have learned how to cope and become a successful writer. Just a friendly suggestion for you: you may want to write more about overcoming dyslexia. It could help a lot of people. Thanks again and look forward to reading more of your work.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
22nd Sep 2013 (#)

Thanks Connie and Marilyn! The difference my husband and I have, however, is that we taught ourselves so early to overcome what we didn't even have a word for at the time -- that what works for us won't work for many others. It's best to say that we both enjoy reading so much that we just have LOTS of practice at it! ;)

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
22nd Sep 2013 (#)

But just imagine me some days using a mirror to read the screen on my laptop... ;)

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
22nd Sep 2013 (#)

Very interesting and educative Phyl and the comments too - siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
22nd Sep 2013 (#)

Thanks, Siva!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
22nd Sep 2013 (#)

interesting indeed Phyl ...good timely advice...hope you happy with my use/misuse of words...I throw them up in the air and where they land nobody knows!!! oh but it is such fun....

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
22nd Sep 2013 (#)

Carolina, you are such fun!!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
25th Sep 2013 (#)

Outstanding Phyl...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
25th Sep 2013 (#)


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