How I remember the spelling of difficult words


Good afternoon, good morning, good evening.

Not good night, though.

I'm really going to tell you something, really, I am terrible at spelling.

Are you really, really terrible at spelling in English, too?

I am.

The reason why is because our pronunciation is completely different from how we write

things, and this makes a terrible problem, especially if you're studying for very important

tests like IELTS or any other written tests that you need for your school.

It is terrible, but I have a method that I want to share with you, and it's helped me

pass the spelling tests.

It's helped me graduate university, and it's helped me become your number one English teacher.

I'm Ronnie, and I'm going to teach you how to spell these terrible, awful words that

I always spell wrong, but let's start with these.

I was looking on the internet.

Do you know that place, the internet?

There's a list, 25, 50, 100 words that native English speakers spell wrong all the time,

so don't be discouraged if you think your spelling's terrible because you're learning

a language, because guess what?

Native speakers can't even spell it correctly, so you're good, but watch my tips.

So, this is what I do, and I'll tell you how I got this method.

I look for words inside the words that help me remember to spell the words.

Let me show you what I mean.

We have this word "unfortunately".

Now, even the pronunciation's weird; it looks like "unfor-toon-ay-eet-lee", "unfor-toon-ay-eet-lee",

and then we just come and say "unfortunately".

And then you have the job of trying to remember how to spell this word, so let's look at it.

What words can you see inside the word, okay?

First of all, I see the prefix "un", so in English, this means "not", okay?

Then I see "for", okay?

I almost see - I almost see "fortune", but there's no "e", so that will really mess me


But then, I see the past tense of the verb "to eat", "ate", so I can remember "unfor-toon-ay-eet-lee".

So, I've got words inside, and this is the problem with native speakers when we try and

write things, is we mix these up.

We usually omit the "e", we could put another vowel here instead of a "u", so always look

for words inside words.

I had this problem in grade 2, and I had a wonderful grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Zettel - I

don't ever know what happened to her - hi, if you're watching, thank you - and when I

was 8 years old, I could not spell the word "about" properly.

I probably spelt it "ah-bout", because that's how it sounds.

I remember my grade 2 teacher sitting me down in a little desk and saying, "Ronnie, you

are going to write this word 'about' 100 times", and for an 8-year-old, that's a lot.

And for a not-8-year-old, it's a lot, so I sat there with my pencil, and I probably spelt

it wrong 100 times, and she said, "It's wrong, you've got to do it again."

So, I realized that there is a "u".

"Why is there a 'u'?

Why don't you say the 'u'?"

So it's "ah-bout".

So, in my little 7-year-old brain, I thought, "Oh, no, no, no, but there's an 'out'."

So I can remember it's "a-b-c-d-e-f-out", "ab-out", wow.

Then I proudly wrote it 100 times, and I showed my teacher, and I was like, "Haha, I got it!"

I will always remember how to spell this word, because I realized this pattern at age 8.

I know, I was a genius.

Now I use it, okay?

So, what word do you see in this, or combinations of words?

I see again, oh, there's a double "m" here, but this is a prefix, so we're going to look

at the beginning of the word and see these prefixes.

Then we have "mead", hmm, okay, oh, I get to eat something again.

So "immediate", there's the "i", watch out for the "i", okay?

So prefix, "mead", "i", "at", "ly", okay, this is getting fun.

Can you see a word in this word?

A problem we have in English is the double letters, right?

But most of the time when you have a double letter, it's because it is a prefix, okay?

So, when I look at this word, I see two "p"s, and I see "apparent", oh, oh, I see "apparent"

in here, okay?

So we have to remember that "parent" is in the word, but we also have to add an extra

"p" before it.

That'll nail the double "p" there.

Apparently, I can spell this word now.

There's "e's", there's "ie's", there's "c's", there's lots of "n's", oh, this one's crazy.

"Convenience", "con", okay, "con", good, "veen", no, "vein", no.

I don't know, this one's hard, "veen-ience", hmm, yeah, just memorize this one, because

I don't have a technique, "convenience".

There's a little rhyme we like to say.

We say "i" before "e" except after "c", but there's so many exceptions to that rule that

really doesn't work like that, but you can kind of remember "i" before "e" except after

"c", but that means because there's a "c" and then it would be like this, so watch out

for that one.

Ignore the "c" there, so "ie".

What about this one?

I always spell this like this, "separate", "s-e", see, I can't even do that, "s-e-p-e-r-a-t-e",




No, apparently it's "sepa-rate", so we go, "Excuse me, could you please sepa-rate this

for me?"


So, in this word, I can see the word "par", this is our problem area, so I remember "separ",

and then if you wanted to, you could hit another "ate" here, but as long as you get the "ar"

and not the "er", you're okay.

Oh, this word, so many vowels, what are you guys doing down here, and there's "c's" and


Watch this.

I remember this guy like science, so I go, "con-cious", "con-cious", no, that's how you

should spell it, "con-cious", and then, no, there's a "c".

I remember the beginning of "con", and then the "science", and then "us", "con-science",

"us", "con-cious", good.

This one's fun.

I can see this in two ways.

First of all, I can see "city" spelt with an "s" instead of a "c", and I also see "rio",

which is the Portuguese and Spanish word for "river".

So, I see a "rio" in here, there's a river, I see "curio", which could be a fun word,

too, as well, but, so I think, oh, "rio-osity", and the problem lies within here, getting

the "i" and the "o" in there.

This one, oh, god, it's another one with the "e" and the "ly", sometimes we put the "e"

in, sometimes we don't, so I would look at this and go, "the fin", no, oh, look, look,

look, there is the wonderful slang American spelling of the word "night", so "de-fin"

and then "ight-ly", "de-fin-ight-ly".

If you say it like that, you remember it like that to spell it, but don't say it like that

on the exam, "de-fin-it-ly", just remember there's a knight in there, he's your knight

in shining armour.

Next one, look at this, so many of these guys have double consonants, double letters, oh,

how are you going to do this?

This one, we have two "r's" because, again, this is a prefix, look it, oh, my sister's

here to help me, so, "I am re-sis", "sister", "tibble", uh-oh, this is when we hit another


Sometimes we have "able", sometimes we have "ibble", so, to help you with this one, I

would make a chart of the words like this, I would make words that end in "able" and

words that end in "ibble".

If your pronunciation is up to speed, which means it's very good, you could even hear

the difference in it, but if you don't know how to say it, the spelling's harder, because

we say "ir-sis-tibble", but we say "avail-able", so that actually makes sense, but you got

to make sure your pronunciation's okay.

This one, wow, wow, wow, wow, there's more vowels, so, "main", oh, "ten", "main-ten",

and then "ence", "main-ten-ence", but we say "main-ten-ence", so I think of a "main" and

then a number "ten", and then I just remember the "ence" part here, this word, oh, I know.

Why do we have the "a"?

Something's "avail-able", sometimes they end in "table", which is fun, but this one doesn't

have a table inside, so you're going to just break this here, "avail-able", "avail" is

a really good punk band, too, if you ever knew that one, mm-hmm.

So, double consonants, just remember, double, double, double C, double S, and I like the

way that some people have learned the double consonants, because I've learned to say "a-c-c-e-s-s-i-b-l-e",

but some people say "a-double-c-e-double-s", and I'm like, "Wow, I like that, you can make

a song", and be like, "I got the next one, I got a C, and I got a double M, and I got

a double, what, T, and I got a double E, damn, we're doubling up on these", so if you can

make little rhymes, double M, double T, double E, it's going to help you, because I would

write this, "committee", committee, E, I'd write it like this, "committee", mm-hmm,

so if something is irresistible, means you cannot resist it, it means you need it, like

chocolate, if someone put, "Hey, Ronnie, would you like some chocolate?", I'm like, "Yeah,

I do, I do, I do, I've eaten 100 kilos of chocolate already, but I cannot resist the

chocolate, I need it, I need it", maintenance.

We do this in a car, if your car's old, it's not broken, but the mechanic likes you to

bring it to them so they can charge you money to maintain your car, that means charge you

extra money to keep your car in good running order, you maintain something, maintenance.

Available means that you have free time, or you can do something.

Accessible, we have the word in it, "access", but you got to remember the doubles, okay?

If something is accessible, it means it's easy to get to, or easy to achieve.

Beauty is a group of people who like to give their opinion about things, uh-oh, this one.

Look at the double letters in this one, embarrassing, and again, oh, there's a bar, yay, I get to

go to the bar with another R, so you can think of it as like in, bar, double R, A, double

S, okay?

The doubles are likeness.

This is two more examples, these are two more examples of remember the double L, don't remember

the double L, it's your choice, I always put them in.

When we spell things like "cancel" or "jewelry" with a double L, it's British spelling.

Apparently in America, they only put one L. In Canada, we definitely put two, but if you're

writing your test and you only put one R, or sorry, one L, fight it, because that is

normal in American English, which I kind of think is cool, because why do you need two?

Because of the rule here, but jewel-la-la-la-la-la-ry, jewel-la-la-la, it's cancel-la-la-la, no,

just one, go.

This is a fun rule that doesn't make sense, but I always say it, because it's been nailed

into my head since I was a little Ronnie, achieve.

Achieve means you win your goal, basically.

If you achieve something, we always say, okay, "i" before "e", so this is the rule.

You always put the "i" before the "e", okay, "i" before "e", okay, believe, "i" before

"e", good.

So, that's how we figure out that, but then they have exceptions.

They say "except" after a "c" letter, so if you have "c", it's "cei", but there's a "c"

here, but it has to be directly after the "c", and then we have so many exceptions to

this rule that when I was a kid it was a good rule, but now I'm like, "That rule's terrible",

but I still say it, and it might help you.

Just be careful of those.

I would make a little chart, and I would put all the guys that fit into this, and expect...

Okay, that's wrong.


I can't even spell this.




Ronnie, you're terrible at spelling.


Except after "c", so I would make a chart.

All the ones that are nice and follow the rules, and they're rebels.

The guys are like, "I'm not following this 'i' before 'e' rule.

So, put them in a different category.

Get them out of there.

Leave it.

Achieve, believe, these guys follow the rule.

This one.


I always kind of try and type it "diz", "d", "disease", "d", "diz".

I know there's an "s" somewhere, "disease", "disease", "disease", but then when you look

at it, you see the word "ease".


Oh, hey, wait, wait, hey, that's "easy", like "ease".

Don't diss my easiness.

So, "disease", you can think of it like "dis", and then "ease" like "easy".

This is not easy, okay?

This took a lot of effort, and you really, really have to focus on your spelling when

you're doing IELTS tests.

I am here to help you with your IELTS.

If you pop onto my website,, I have IELTS courses for you to take, private

lessons to help you with this test.

If you're taking TOEFL or TOEIC, you have to be careful of your spelling.

I'll help you with anything you need, but especially the spelling.

So, I want you to take these words that you hate and you always get wrong, and to think

of the little words inside.

Hey, even if maybe it's in your language, it'll help you.

Whatever language you want to do it in, please try and remember this with my grade seven


Thanks, Ms. Settle, grade two teacher.

I hope you're doing well.