SPELLING

By David A. Cooper.

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The best way to improve your spelling is to do lots of writing using a wordprocessor with a spellchecker: all your mistakes will be highlighted and you will be given help to put them right. The more often you spell a word wrongly, the more often you'll have to stop to put it right, and sooner or later you'll begin to spell it right first go. By working this way, you'll learn to spell all the most important words first because they are the most common, and gradually you'll learn to spell all the rarer words too. Don't worry if your spelling is really bad: it will improve soon enough if you always put right your mistakes whenever a spellcheck program highlights them. I was the worst in my class at spelling all the way through school, but I bought a wordprocessor not long after leaving school and became a good speller in just a few months. Now I can manage without using a spellcheck at all.
indentBut what should you write if you have no wish to write anything? Some people like to make up stories and to write them down, but I always kept most of my story ideas in my head because I knew that they needed many years of work done on them (lots of thinking) before they would be ready to put on paper. Some people keep a diary, writing an entry every day, but school made my life so empty that I rarely had anything to write about, while at weekends and during the holidays I was too busy to find the time to write anything. I always had diaries, but they were the wrong type: I can't think why a diary for a child should be set out like a diary for an adult who uses it to list appointments to meet people and to list their boring travel plans. I realise now that I would have been better off using an ordinary notebook and writing about events some time after they happened, writing only about the more interesting events and waiting for dull days to do that writing. That is what you should do.
indentSome people get ill or have bad accidents which cause them to lose all their memories: they forget everything about who they used to be. Most people also forget much of the detail of their childhood anyway just through growing up, which is sad. I am lucky in that I can still remember all manner of things all the way back to when I was just a year old, but one of my childhood friends has told me that he has no memories left of being under the age of seven! That's half his childhood lost! When he told me that, I immediately set about writing down all my early memories, starting from the very first ones and working through to the later ones. You should start to do the same now before it's too late: don't wait till you've lost half of them.
indentYou don't need to worry about writing your memories down in the right order: just write the most important and earliest memories first, and then you can rearrange the order later on. You should use a wordprocessor if you can, and this will make it easy for you to add more details to things you have already written as soon as you realise you've left something out. It's also worth having a notebook where you can quickly write things down as soon as memories come to you so that you don't have to switch on a computer first: otherwise you'll immediately forget about them again and you'll spend lots of time sitting at the computer trying and failing to remember what they were. Little by little you will build a book that tells the story of your life, and some day your wife/husband and children will be able to read it to find out who you were before they knew you. You will also be able to read it yourself when you are older, finding out all sorts of things about your past which you had forgotten. And imaginine what would happen if you did have an accident and lost all memory of your own past: which memories do you think you would you most hate to be without? Those are the important ones which you must write down. If you are really keen on writing, you can also write about the thoughts which go through your mind, and the way you feel about things that are happening in the world in general: it's up to you how much or little writing you want to do, but you must try to do enough of it to knock your spelling into shape, and also read it back to yourself to make sure it has been written clearly.
indentYou might not want to remember all the events that have happened in your life, but that's fine: you can leave out anything you don't want to remember. There may, however, be some events which you want to write about, but which you don't want anyone else to be able to read. If so, you will need to use some kind of code so that no one else can read it. You can learn more about codes and cyphers in the "Extras" section of this Web site.


It may also be worth trying to learn how to spell problem words by other methods, so here are some tips which may help you:-

Kn- words:-

Know, Knife, Knickers. It's a good idea, and rather fun, to pronounce the K at the beginning of these words. Eg. say "Who knows" as "hook nose". Strange spellings often tell you a lot about the way English used to be spoken long ago, and the "k" was indeed pronounced in the "kn-" words. If ye ken the word "ken" ("ken" means "know"), you might be surprised to learn that it actually originates from the first part of the word "know", but with the vowel "e" placed between the "k" and the "n". Most European languages evolved from a single language which used to be spoken thousands of years ago: this means that many English words are similar to words used in other European languages. The Spanish word "conocer" means "know": you can see that the "con" part is related to "ken", while the "c_no" part is the word "know". In most Scandinavian languages, "kniv" is the word for "knife", and the "k" is still pronounced (so it sounds like "kneev"). The French say "canif" for "knife", so it is likely that there used to be a vowel between the "k" and "n" in the original language from which these modern European languages evolved. Don't ask me about the origin of "knickers" though!

I before E, except after C:-

The sound "ee" is sometimes spelt as "ie" or "ei". The first order is the normal one, but after the letter "c" it is normally "ei" instead, as in "receive". A few other words use the "ei" order, such as "weird" and the name "Neil". By the way, if a word looks as if it might be German, "ei" is usually pronounced as "eye" (the thing you see with): e.g. the name Einstein.

-y, -ies, -y's, -ies' and -ying

Words ending in "y" (e.g. fly) turn the "y" into "i" (flies) and add "es" when the sound "zzz" is added to the word, but it stays as a "y" when "-ing" is added (flying). The exception to this is where there is one fly which owns something (e.g. the fly's wings) - you then have to put in an apostrophe (') and "s" instead. If more than one fly are the owners, then the apostrophe is added on its own to the "-ies" ending (e.g. the flies' heads). One weird word to look out for is "skiing" where there are two "i"s in a row - it looks wrong, but it isn't.

More will be added later:-

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