Spelling correctly and coping with difficult words can be a big problem for many people. It’s unfortunate, but people will inevitably judge you by the way you write, and particularly by your spelling. This applies in your job or maybe even more so if you are applying for work. Either way, it’s definitely in your interests to try to improve your spelling and your writing in general. If a prospective employer thinks you don’t know how to spell, you’ve already gone down in his estimation.
Spelling tips can be a big help with this situation. As you take them on board you will automatically become a little better at spelling. A big factor is spelling properly is attention – if you don’t really pay close attention you can miss a lot of detail.
Memory also plays a big part in spelling – once you ‘see’ a word, either on paper or in your mind’s eye – you have a much greater chance of remembering how to spell it. That’s one way these spelling tips can help – they’ll make it easier to visualise the words and notice exactly how they’re spelt.
Sometimes you can get it wrong simply by misspelling a word. Sometimes you misspell hard words by using the wrong word entirely (maybe because your understanding of the word is a bit shaky), or by confusing it with a word that looks similar. And sometimes it’s all too easy to confuse words that sound similar, or have similar meanings.
A few tips for better spelling
- When you come across a word you’re unfamiliar with (or what you think of as a ‘hard word’), write it down, repeatedly. The physical action of writing it down, together with saying it to yourself as you write it, helps imprint both the meaning and spelling in your mind.
- Use any mnemonic device you can think of to help you remember a spelling. Doesn’t matter how weird or strange. Actually, the stranger the better!
Don’t be shy to carry a notebook and write words in a special section just for that purpose. It will help you learn the words and how to spell them, and it’ll act as a reference. Every time you add a word, glance over some of the ones you’ve already noted down and refresh your growing knowledge. Wouldn’t hurt to carry a pocket dictionary as well, if you’re serious about learning how to spell and improving your knowledge of words.
- Remember, only a really stupid person thinks they know it all. Be eager to learn new words and not embarrassed to have to look them up in a dictionary. Learning is a sign of being smart – assuming you know it all is a sign you’re pretty dumb and probably beyond help!
- When you think of a word, even before you attempt to spell it, visualise it in your mind. Try to ‘see’ it clearly. Do the same when you first spell a new word. People who have trouble spelling words often fail to use their visual faculty, and this is easily overcome; just make it a habit to try to ‘see’ the words, and you’ll find you can spell more accurately almost immediately.
To go along with visualising, speak the word to yourself, in your mind. Pronounce it carefully, savouring each syllable, and actually listening to it. Speaking the word, listening to it carefully, seeing it in detail … this way you’ll be employing several senses at once, and this gives you a full, rounded experience of the word. Do this and you’ll find it’s actually difficult to get the spelling wrong in future.
- Check out Spelling Tips 2 and Spelling Tips 3 – there’s a bucketload of word oddities there for you to lose yourself in for a little while. If you don’t find anything there that you sometimes have trouble with, feel free to congratulate yourself. And if you do, just be glad you’ve found somewhere to help you learn how to spell better and to finally get some clarification on a few things.
- Start to see yourself as a good speller. Poor spellers often carry around a faulty self-image, sometimes going back to school days. Just because you never learned how to spell when you were nine years old doesn’t make you a bad speller now. That’s in the past. See yourself as a good speller and it’ll soon become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
- Make an effort to use ‘new’ words as soon as you can (without sounding ridiculous)! A wide vocabulary is a hallmark of intelligence. And make an effort to use words as precisely as you can. The more words you know, the more accurately you can express yourself.
- Try to become aware of the subtle differences in similar words. Do you know the difference between effect and affect ? Or compliment and complement? Continuous and continual are often used inappropriately. People often use disinterested when they really mean uninterested. Do you know the difference? Make it a habit to learn and note down the differences in similar words and your vocabulary will improve immensely.
In case you were wondering …
To affect something is to produce an effect on it (to affect is a verb, the effect produced is a noun).
When you tell a lady she looks really nice, that’s giving her a compliment. If she’s wearing shoes that match her dress, they complement each other. And if you didn’t notice it was probably because you were uninterested, not disinterested. Uninterested implies that your interest was quite low (as in, you couldn’t really be bothered), whereas disinterested means that you don’t have an interest in something (e.g. a financial interest, or a legal interest).
If some kid in the neighbourhood presses your doorbell and doesn’t stop for a long time, he’s continuously ringing the doorbell. If he presses it, then hides, then presses it again, repeatedly, then he’s continually pressing the bell. Continual indicates a break in the action, while continuous means that the action is unbroken. (Either way, sounds like he’s risking being affected by an action from you, which I suppose he wouldn’t exactly take as a compliment)! Maybe he should though … at least it shows you’re not uninterested in his actions. :\