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. It’s easy enough to teach someone how to write the letter “a”, for example, but then they must be taught that its pronunciation changes in words like hat,hate and father. In oak it isn’t 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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