Writing Tips: Spelling and Consonant Choice
  • 3-minute read
  • 10th November 2019

Writing Tips: Spelling and Consonant Choice

In English, some letters make different sounds in different words. And this can make spelling difficult, especially when it comes to consonant choice.

In this post, then, we’re looking at some common errors related to consonant choice and how to avoid them in your writing.

Incorrect Consonant Choice

Consonants can vary in pronunciation. “C” and “g,” for example, have both hard (e.g., carrot and grape) and soft (e.g., celery and ginger) pronunciations. As such, “c” and “g” can sound similar to “s” and “j,” respectively.

This makes it easy to pick the wrong letter when spelling some words. “Absence,” for example, sounds like it should be spelled with a second “s,” but it actually takes a soft “c.” We can see this in the following:

Your absence from class yesterday was noted.

Your absense from class yesterday was noted.

In addition, it’s easy to miss out a letter in some words, especially those with silent letters, such as the “c” in “acquit” or the “n” in “environment”:

He was acquitted of environmental destruction.

He was aquitted of enviromental destruction.

Unfortunately, there are no simple rules about consonant choice. Different words come from different places, which can affect their spelling and pronunciation. Picking the right consonant for a word is thus often a matter of experience. And the more words you know, the easier it is to avoid errors.

Common Problem Terms

The following list includes some words that are prone to consonant choice errors. Keep an eye out for these (and similar) terms in your written work:

Incorrect Consonant Choice

Correct Consonant Choice

Jist

Gist

Lazer

Laser

Aquire

Acquire

Fonics

Phonics

Tecnical

Technical

There are even some words people misspell despite their pronunciations! “Supersede,” for example, is often wrongly spelled “supercede” because we spell the word “cede” with a “c.” This, again, shows the importance of checking the spelling of unfamiliar terms, as they don’t all follow regular patterns.

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How to Avoid Incorrect Consonant Choices

The key to correct spelling lies in two things:

  • Practice, Practice, Practice! – The more your vocabulary grows, the easier it will be to spot common spelling patterns and tricky words. And this, in turn, will make it easier to avoid consonant choice errors in your writing.
  • Careful Proofreading – Spellchecking software is a good start, but it isn’t always reliable. Instead, ask a friend or colleague to check your writing. Or, even better, you can ask a professional proofreader to review your work.

As an extra bonus, we offer tips on writing in our feedback. So if you need any help with your spelling, submit your work for proofreading today.

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