Check the Spelling of a Word: Quick Tips to Correct Your Work

, Staff Writer
Updated September 21, 2021
Open Dictionary and Magnifying Glass
    Open Dictionary and Magnifying Glass
    boonchai wedmakawand / Moment / Getty Images
    Used under Getty Images license

Finding the correct spelling of a word can be difficult. While there are many online tools such as spellcheckers that can help you correct your spelling, it is important to be able to spot misspelled words and correct them on your own. Explore these tips to help you spell like a pro.

1. Beware of False Friends

While online spellcheckers can be very helpful, they are still subject to error. For example, if you are trying to spell a word that sounds like another word but has a different spelling and meaning, spellcheck will likely not catch this error. Words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings are called homophones. This can be confusing for both you and online spellcheckers, so it is important to know the difference between words. Remembering these “false friends” is a crucial step when you’re editing your work to check spelling.


2. Write the Word in Different Ways

You may be confused whether to put an “i” before “e” or an “oar” instead of “ore.” In this case, write out the word with different spellings. Seeing these options can help you determine which spelling is correct. Be aware that some words can be spelled in different ways that you may need to watch out for when proofing your writing.

3. Spell Out the Word in Your Head or Aloud

If you are alone, don’t be afraid to use phonetics to sound out and spell words. This can be particularly helpful if you are an auditory learner. Otherwise, you can say or even sing out the spelling in your head.

4. Use Memory Tricks

You can use adages like I before E except after C to remind you of the spelling rules. Another practical strategy is a mnemonic device, which can come in the form of an acronym, song, saying, phrase, or image.


5. Make Spelling Vocabulary Lists

If you know what your problem words are, make a list of commonly misspelled words complete with examples. While this may be time consuming, it will prove beneficial in the long run, especially if you are a visual learner. Knowing the definition, spelling and pronunciation of these words is often a key to helping foster language arts skills. The list can be organized alphabetically or by spelling rule, whichever proves to be more useful.

You can:

  • write words down in a notebook

  • make a set of notecards with the word on one side and a sentence using the word on the other

  • create a poster or other visual aid

Consult this list of words when checking your work for spelling errors.

6. Determine Reasons for Misspelling Words

Spelling words incorrectly is common for beginning and advanced learners alike. Memorizing rules and knowing particular words by sight can help cut down on mistakes.

Some reasons why words may not get spelled correctly include:

  • reversing letters

  • not understanding relationships between letter sounds

  • not applying phonetic rules

  • not making connections between rules and spelling in practice

By identifying the things that prevent you from spelling words correctly, you can recognize and address these problem areas.


7. Read Your Writing Backward

For some, reading your writing backward can be beneficial. Doing this can help you catch mistakes you might otherwise overlook. It also forces you to take your time and really look at the content and spelling.

8. Consult a Dictionary

Learning how to look words up in the dictionary instead of relying on spellcheck can help you fine tune your spelling skills. By taking the time to search for a word in the dictionary, you can ensure that you are not only spelling words correctly, but that you are using the correct words.

Why Checking Your Own Spelling Is Important

Learning how to spell is a fundamental skill, and it takes time to memorize spelling rules and exceptions. While practice makes perfect, having a strategy that works for you is the surest way to master difficult words. Explore more spelling tips and tricks to continue improving. You can also practice spelling with fun activities and printables.