Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along!

Spelling in the English language is one of the most difficult academic skills to master. Part of the issue is that words in English come from all over the world. Literally. Name a language, and chances are it has contributed directly or indirectly to English.

To make spelling easier, many people rely on rules. However, virtually every rule in the English language has an exception! For example, how about that one spelling rule virtually everyone knows? “I before E except after C.” I mean…your first exception is right there as part of the rule. Next comes another exception. “…or when sounded like A as in neighbor or weigh.” And even then, the exceptions abound! One Quora member even wrote a hilarious riposte to this rule that has to be read to be believed. Basically, spelling can be just a weird science. (Heh-heh…see what I just did there? Two exceptions to that rule in one fell swoop!)

This is just a prelude to the fact that spelling rules, while helpful in most cases, are not 100% infallible. Probably every spelling rule has an exception of some sort. So if you come across a spelling rule in this blog, and you see the word always in reference to it, you have the right to look askance and say, “Really?” In fact, see if you can find exceptions to rules I claim are true all the time.

Then again, there may be a spelling rule that is 100% correct all the time, just to prove that my statement that “every spelling rule has an exception of some sort” is also wrong. I just haven’t found it yet.


Anyhow…happy spelling!

(Photo credit: Mark Bowen/Scripps)