Common words with tricky spelling 

Retain 'e' where required for pronunciation in words such as:

  • EXAMPLE: ageing     acknowledgement     judgement 

 (It can be difficult to hear the 'e' in the pronunciation of these words. So, as always, if in doubt, check the first spelling given in the online Oxford Learner's Dictionary)

When adding '-able,' drop a final silent '-e' at the end of the stem

  • EXAMPLE: debate — debatable
  • EXAMPLE: conceive — conceivable)

Keep the 'e' if dropping it would change the pronunciation of the preceding consonant

  • EXAMPLE: changeable  AVOID: changable
  • EXAMPLE: traceable AVOID: tracable

The only common exceptions are sizeable and saleable (although sizable and salable are US spellingsso, expect to observe this spelling when reading a variety of texts).

More words with tricky spelling 

The '-yse' form is the only correct spelling for words such as paralyse and analyse (even in American and Oxford English)

Double consonants

Follow the convention of doubling a final -l after a short vowel on adding -ing or -ed to verbs (sole exception: parallel, paralleled) and adding -er to make nouns from verbs:

  • EXAMPLE:  level, levelling, levelled, leveller
  • EXAMPLE:  travel, travelling, travelled, traveller

Other consonants double only if the last syllable of the root verb is stressed or carries a strong secondary stress:

  • EXAMPLE: admit, admitting, admitted
  • EXAMPLE: format, formatting, formatted
  • EXAMPLE: refer, referring, referred

but (exceptions):

  • EXAMPLE: benefit, benefiting, benefited
  • EXAMPLE: combat, combating, combated
  • EXAMPLE: focus, focusing, focused
  • EXAMPLE: target, targeting, targeted

Exception: a few verbs in -p (e.g. handicapped, kidnapped, worshipped, but not developed). 
Use -ct- not -x- in connection, reflection, etc. But note complexion and flexion.

Reference List

European Commission English Style Guide - A handbook for authors and translators in the European Commission Eighth edition: January 2016 Last updated: May 2018 "[PDF File]" Retrieved from

University of Oxford Style Guide. "[PDF File]" Retrieved from