It's important to understand some key words about spelling.

When you start to look carefully at how and why words are spelt, you'll need to know and understand some of the language. This is important with spelling rules.

What are vowels, consonants, compound words, root words, singular nouns, adjectives, short vowel sounds, long vowel sounds and verbs?

Here's a glossary to help you remember what they are:

Check out my video on the Language of Spelling
or read on

vowels  - a e i o u  (y can sometimes be used as a vowel too)

short vowels- pen, pin, pun, pan, ant, engine, igloo, octopus, upset, apple...

long vowels - they usually have the sound of the first vowel but exceptions: bean, cheese, table, equal, ice, old, use, seize, height (long i sound).

diphthongs are two vowel sounds made by the tongue to make one long vowel sound (they can look like short vowels): table, ice, ear, oil, appear

consonants - bcdfghjklm...  letters other than a,e,i,o,u. The letter 'y' can be a consonant as in word 'yes' or a vowel as in happy.

How words are built:

root word/base word - a word which a prefix and suffix can be added to make another word.


prefixes are little words that go before a root word to change its meaning.
un + certain = uncertain, mis + understanding = misunderstanding, il + legal = illegal, ir + regular = irregular.

suffixes are little words that are added to the end of a word to change the way that a word is used = want + ed = wanted/ start - starting  / incredible/ happiness

syllables / syllable breakdown means breaking the word down into chunks of sound with a vowel in each chunk. This is a good strategy to help spell long words:

   ex/pe/ri/ence,   un-for-tu-nat-ly,    in/te/res/ting,    Wed/nes/day.

homophones - same sound words but have different meaning and different spelling - there,their,they're / to,too,two/ by, buy, bye / aisle, I'll/ wear, where, were...

compound words - two words together that make one word - time + table = timetable/ hair+dresser = hairdresser/ toothbrush/football/armchair

noun - a word which names something or somebody - table, chair, London, Joanne...

singular noun- one of anything - a party, one computer, an egg, man, woman...

plural noun - a word (noun) that means there is more than one - parties, computers, girls, men, women...

adjective - a word describing a noun - blue bag, happy, boring, healthy...

verb - a word showing action or being - work, watched, are, be, listen, read, learn, ran...

adverb - a word describing a verb - speak slowly, drive fast, listen carefully, work hard on your spelling...

lower case - small letters- letters that are not capitals.

Capitals/upper case - big letters at start of a proper noun, abbreviations, or sentence - Joanne, London, India, I, I'm, August, Wednesday, BBC, UN, CV, 

BLOCK CAPITALS - ALL CAPITALS - usually needed when you write on forms.



spelling tests



Can you remember what the following are?

1. blue, sad, happy, exciting, slim... are all _______________

2. cars, London, college, pen... are all ______________

3. un, dis, im, in, mis, re...are all ________________

4. bye, buy, by/ there, they're their/ to, too, two...are ___________

5. ing, ed, s, able, ly, tion... are all ___________

6. a e i o u - are all ______________

7. b,c,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s... - are  _________________

8. have, write, read, went, watched are all _______________

9. parties, children, women, pens are all _________________

10. L G Q M T A B D E H are all  ___________________

11. a b d i l p q h are all in ____________   ______________


1. adjectives

2. nouns

3. prefixes

4. homophones

5. suffixes

6. vowels

7. consonants

8. verbs

9. plurals

10. capitals

11. lower case

If you're not sure about a word look it up in a dictionary. 

I love dictionaries and use Oxford Dictionary Online -

and Macmillan -

If you'd like to see an extended vocabulary of spelling video for free
check out my Spelling Rules: to improve spelling & confidence course Click on the Key Terms and Language for Spelling in the list of lessons, and click on it and then Preview.


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