Spelling, or the lack of it

I'm beginning to wonder if anyone can still spell, these days.  I see awful spelling everywhere, including from high school students (in their work, not just the awful abbreviations used in SMSs), and they don't even seem to be aware that it's wrong.  They're nearly all basic words, too; the sort of words that I learnt how to write correctly part way through primary school.  And they're the kind of things that you really need to get right when writing job applications.

This is an Australian site, as such this page is only about Australian writing.  There are some people who will say when writing for an international audience, or some other specific audience, that you should use their writing rules.  I refute that point of view.  I write in my own language, and I know its rules.  I don't know the rules of other languages, so I can't follow them without research, and it strikes me that it's really too much to ask someone to go into such intricacies.  It's far-from-simple to write in someone else's language, you have spelling, grammar, and punctuation to contend with, it's quite complex.  Besides we're forever having to put with American impositions on the rest of the world, and we manage to read their material, they ought to be able to manage to read other people's material.

Using the correct words in the right places

Using the word “lite” to do with illumination or weight is incorrect, and there's no such word as “nite”.  They're deliberate spelling errors used in advertising.

I before E, except after C

It's a general rule that works in most cases where “ie” sounds like “ee.”  Here's a few examples of words where the:

But there's numerous exceptions to the over-simplified rule.  Above, friend doesn't have an “ee” sound, yet it's I before E; and there's other examples, where it does.  And there are “ee” sounds, that are spelt with “ei.”  You end up having to learn a lot of them by rote, as there's plenty that don't match a simple set of rules.  So that “I before E rule” is no-longer taught for that reason.

Various exceptions (E before I, and without caring about C)

Often, but not always, where it sounds like “ay” or “eye”.  Again, here's a few examples:

“ay” sounding words using “ei”

“ee” sounding words using “ei”

“eye” sounding words using “ei”

Yes, there's some deliberate duplications, above.  As noted, some of them are pronounced either way.

ISE or IZE, and YSE or YZE word-endings

Although not a hard and fast rule, it's traditionally being favoured to spell words that could be written ending with “ise” or “ize,” that they're written with an “ise” ending (likewise when there's an “ing” suffix, as well).  While both “ise” or “ize,” endings being not-incorrect, it's generally preferred that “ise” is used (though there are some government and educational officialdoms that set their own, conflicting, rules).  And it needs to be remembered that some words can only be spelt one way.

For example, the usual proferred Australian spelling for a few word thats can be spelt both ways:

It's a similar situation with words that end with “yse” or “yze,” such as “analyse.”  In that the Australian way is to use the ending with an “s” in it.

The rule is losing ground to creeping Americanisms, be that from the proliferation of reading material already spelt that way, and automated spell-checkers that are set to the wrong locality, or don't support Australian English.


Apostrophes denote abbreviations, and are used in ownership (only with names).  They're not used with plurals, except in some cases (with single letters and numbers, or where multiple-ownership is involved).



The apostrophe goes after the “s,” where “s” hasn't been added to indicate ownership—such as words already ending in “s”, or where the “s” indicates plurals (apostrophes with plurals are used regarding ownership, not because they're plurals, with the exception of single letters and numbers).


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