Your Study Guides and Strategies content starts here!

When ideas fail,
words come in very handy.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 - 1832, German poet/scientist

Vocabulary and spelling guides

American spelling exercises:

Knowing how to spell English words can be a very challenging task for students
and writers. It is made even more complicated with today's abbreviated communications with email and handheld devices.

Look through the index at left for particular issues, resources and exercises
to improve your spelling. Note that there are also spelling differences in the English-writing world! For example (US first - Great Britain second): center - centre; traveled - travelled; color - colour. Study Guides and Strategies follows American usage.

Here are additional strategies to follow:

As a foundation:
Compile the following in a book to help you track your spelling and usage challenges:

    • Practice your spelling
      While texting and emailing friends have texted shortcuts,
      remember that your education and employment require formal types of writing,
      and these abbreviations are not appropriate.
    • Keep a "spelling notebook" and list words you commonly misspell or or that you have trouble with
    • Be aware of, or keep this list of commonly misspelled words,
      or words that may be spelled correctly, but misused (e.g. who's * whose)
    • Keep a list of rules for spelling

As regards important documents you send, or turn in to others:

    • Spell check the document if it is electronic
      Note: Some e-mail software (i.e. MS Outlook) can be set to automatically check spelling and grammar as you write, or before you send
    • Re-read the printed document carefully for errors:
      Pay attention to words you commonly misspell or that are spelled correctly but misused; note these words in your spelling notebook
    • Have someone you trust and respect review the document.
      This is often difficult for us since often we get comments regarding text as well as spelling. But that is a plus, since we don't have to take the advice, but rather appreciate the suggestions, and then make your own decisions on the advice.
    • Footnote the national rules for spelling
      if what you write has an international readership
    • If your school has a center for writing assistance,
      take advantage of it

Use a dictionary:
a dictionary contains more than the spelling of a word!
It also contains the spelling of its derivatives: plural forms and participles.
On line resources include

    • Dictionary.com
      Dictionary, thesaurus, and access to foreign dictionaries
    • Dictionary.net
      A straightforward presentation of definitions and synonyms from a variety of resources
    • Merriam-Webster OnLine
      Dictionary, thesaurus, look up feature for bad spellers, word of the day, word games, and access to vocabulary in 230 languages

Since the English language is so exceptional in its spellings, any dictionary will help you in finding exceptions to the rules of spelling. Alternative spellings, especially British vs. American, should also be noted.

Spell checkers in word processing:

    • Spell check each and every word-processed document as a habit
    • Proof-read each document after spell-checking!
      A spell checker will only find words incorrectly spelled.
      It will not find words correctly spelled but misused.

Common challenges--but there are so many more!

from and form: a common typing inversion;
of, or: another case of mistaken keyboarding;
to, too, two; there, their; whether, weather: common confusion of usage;
foreign, physical: When is an "f" really a "ph"?

Vocabulary and spelling guides

Transitional words & phrases | More transitions | Transitional word game
Essay terms and directives | Modifiers & commas |
Spelling rules & exercises | Common misspelled words |
There - They're - Their | Too - Two - To | "Y" with suffixes |
Prefixes and root words | Suffixes and silent "e" |
Mapping vocabulary | Picturing vocabulary | American alphabet recited