Spelling Tips and Tricks

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13946

Is it its or it's? There, they're or their? English can be so confusing! Learn a few spelling rules, strategies, tips, and tricks to be a better speller!



English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Some people have a natural gift for spelling, like Akash Vukoti.

Watch this video to meet Akash.

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  • Akash is amazing, isn't he?

Unlike Akash, most of us need a little help sometimes with our spelling!

Some English words follow certain spelling rules. Others don't follow the rules.

Learn some strategies that will help you conquer any spelling challenge!

Remember the Spelling Rules

You probably learned these rules at some point in your schooling. It's important to remember them when you're writing. They don't always apply to every word, but most often, they do!

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One spelling rule you may have learned that isn't very helpful is this.

When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.

Most often, this one is NOT true. Many times, the letter pair makes a unique sound, such as the oi in noise. OR it may take the sound of the second letter, such as the ea in bear.

Know Your Contractions

Contractions can sometimes be confusing, especially those pesky it's and its. The easiest way to choose the correct one is to remember that the one with the apostrophe has a missing letter.

It's stands for it is. The other one, its, shows possession as in, "The dog wagged its tail."

Another contraction is they're, which also sounds like the words there and their.

  • Which is which?

Again, remember the one with the apostrophe has a missing letter, so they're is short for they are. There is a directional word. It's similar to where. When someone asks, "Where?" you can say, "There!" Their is the possessive of they as in, "They drove in their car."

Say It How You Spell It

Words like environment and people can be memorized by following a trick called pronounce for spelling.

For example, when spelling environment, you would pronounce it in your head the way it is spelled. You would say to yourself, "en-vi-ron-ment".

  • People would be "pee-o-pul" so you remember there's an o in there.
  • Enjoy would be "en-joy" not "in-joy" as it sounds.
  • Impossible would be "im-possible," not "in-possible" as some people pronounce it.
  • Library would be pronounced "li-brary" not "li-bary," as it's often said.
  • Different would be "diff-er-ent" not "different".

Break It Down

Break the word into its syllables, and take one at a time.

  • Which letters spell each sound?
  • Are there other possible spellings?

Write It Down

Sometimes, just writing the word down will help you to spell it correctly.

  • Does it look right?

Try different options until it looks good!

Memory Tricks

Create a memory trick to help you with those words that give you trouble, such as these.


If someone's your friend, he's your friend to the end.


You hear with your ear.


Never believe a lie.


An island is land surrounded by water.


I get really red and so shy.
(to remember it has two r's and two s's)


so sweet
(to remember it has two s's)



A comes before e, so you affect something, and that causes an effect.


  • Are you ready to try these tips and tricks?

Go on to the Got It? section!

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