In my experience, the most common complaint language learners make about English is that the spelling of words often has little or nothing to do with their pronunciation. For example, teaching someone how to write the letter “a” is easy enough , however they then must be taught that it´s pronunciation changes in words like hat, hate and father. What´s more, in oak it isn’t even pronounced at all.
Compare this to the simplicity of Spanish, a language in which an “a” and other vowels rarely change pronunciation from word to word.
Laugh is pronounced larf but the similar-sounding half is not written haugh – but of course there are regional differences in accent too. Like the “l” in half, there are silent letters sprinkled throughout English words: the “k” in knife and knead, the “s” in island, the “p” in receipt, and so on.
I take it you already know of tough and bough and cough and dough? Others may stumble, but not you on hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Another area of difficulty that learners of English often comment on is the prevalence of irregular past verbs in English. It’s simple enough to remember that the past tense of walk is walked, shout isshouted and pick is picked.
But what about all the irregular verbs, like hit, read and think? Forhit, the past tense looks and sounds the same as the present tense.
- For read, the past tense looks the same, but is pronounced differently.
- For think, the past tense thought involves substantial change to both the spelling and the pronunciation
Here is a longer list of words with correct spelling, where you need to decide between single and double letters.
Get a friend to read them to you so that you write them down and practise your spelling
balloon embarrass occurrence possession
referring occasionally questionnaire difference
success recommend disappear disappoint
fulfil necessary tomorrow attractive
impression forgetting accommodation
Did you know that many British people have problems with the words below? . How did you do? Drop us a comment!
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