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Suffix Spelling Changes

An increased awareness of phonetic and structural patterns in words develops spelling consciousness, thereby leading to improved encoding accuracy. Visual learners tend to be better spellers since they remember how words look. Therefore, visual learners are more apt to spell words with suffixes correctly. Patterns become imbedded in visual memory as a reader sees them repeatedly over a period of time. Auditory or kinesthetic learners are more dependent on rules and instruction. They can become good spellers, but it takes more effort.

Rules are worth teaching if the generalization applies to many words and there are few exceptions. At the top of the list of rules meeting these criteria are the suffix spelling change rules. Data supports that these are among the most consistent English spelling patterns.

These rules should be taught one at a time in the order listed. Download the suffix spelling changes rule charts and post each as the rule is introduced. Then provide students with ample drill applying the concepts. Drill cards (Suffix Spelling Changes) or assignments may be tedious, but they are effective. Like multiplication tables, these rules must be memorized, and it is application practice that leads to mastery.

  1. Words ending with s, x, z, ch, or sh, add –es
    dress  dresses       box   boxes       buzz   buzzes       church  churches       wish  wishes
  2. Words ending in y preceded by a consonant, change the y to i if suffix begins with e
    baby  babies       try  tries  tried  trying       key  keys       play  plays  played  playing
  3. Words ending with a silent e, drop the e if suffix begins with a vowel
    nice  nicer  nicest  nicely       scare  scares  scared  scaring  scary
  4. Words ending in one vowel followed by one consonant, double the final consonant if suffix begins with a vowel       chat  chats  chatted  chatting  chatter  chatty

By teaching these rules to your students, you set expectations for spelling accuracy. Since young students are tuned in to phonetic elements of words, these rules can be taught as early as second grade. With older students, some phonics review may be needed.

One of the best ways to ensure that students remember and apply the rules is to add suffixes to spelling words. Do this on practice exercises and on spelling tests. When students get careless making spelling changes, repeating a card jogs their memories and gets them to be more careful.

Download Suffix Spelling Changes Rule Charts