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!
Some people have a natural gift for spelling, like Akash Vukoti.
Watch Meet this year's youngest Spelling Bee competitor, from Vox, to meet Akash:
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!
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.
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".
Break It Down
Break the word down into its syllables, and take one at a time.
Write It Down
Sometimes, just writing the word down will help you to spell it correctly.
Try different options until it looks good!
Create a memory trick to help you with those words that give you trouble such as:
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.
A comes before e, so you affect something, and that causes an effect.
Go on to the Got It? section!
Resources Referenced in the Lesson