Two easy spelling tricks

I get that the English language is hard to spell. I really do. In fact, it’s so tricky that the Americans long ago decided to abolish a whole lot of vowels to make it easier.

So they say that you have a neighbor not a neighbour with a ‘u’, and that you wrap leftovers in aluminum foil not aluminium with an ‘i’.

And while I know Australian and British spelling can be challenging it isn’t impossible.

Here are the tricks I have used to teach people how to spell and use four common words.

1. It’s STATIONERY if you are talking about the stuff you write letters on. The trick is that stationery has an ‘e’ like an envelope. It’s STATIONARY if you are talking about not moving. The trick is that it has an ‘a’ as in standing still.

2. Speaking of ENVELOPE, it’s what you put a letter into. When you describe being surrounded by darkness or wrapped in a cloak it is ENVELOP, and you pronounce it differently because it doesn’t have an ‘e’ on the end.

Happy spelling!

vintage envelope

An envelope has an ‘e’ on the end which is also how you spell ‘stationery’.


Spell check

Zombie gate

Remember playing Charades as a kid? Acting out a film or book title to the merciless heckling of your siblings?

Well that’s how I remember it anyway.

There was one rule of the game that I always found particularly useful. The one that allows you to tug on your ear, making everyone shout ‘sounds like’, then act out a rhyming word.

Well sometimes it seems like everyone is utilising the ‘sounds like’ rule in their writing. And it’s not just self-published e-book authors (and I use that term extremely loosely) who are guilty of this, although they are the worst offenders, but online journos too.

Here are three I’ve seen a lot of recently:

1. Your nerves are stretched TAUT not TAUGHT, which is that thing they did to you at school.

2. A zombie has a shambling GAIT not GATE, which is that thing that lets you through a fence.

3. Lots of people is a HORDE not HOARD, which is that thing your mum does with useless crap.

These zombies don't have a shambling gait.

These zombies don’t have a shambling gait.