English spelling can be complex and confusing. Fortunately, most test questions on spelling simply ask you to identify misspellings related to common conjugation patterns (like pluralization) and identify commonly misspelled words.
There are several ways to make a word plural. Most commonly, add an –s to a word:
For words that already end in an s, or that end in –sh, –ch, –x, and –z, add –es.
Generally, words that end in y are made plural by dropping the y and adding –ies.
baby → babies
nursery → nurseries
surgery → surgeries
Generally, words that end in f are made plural by dropping the f and adding –ves.
shelf → shelves
scarf → scarves
In science and medicine, many words are derived from Latin. It is important to know their proper plural forms.
vertebra → vertebrae
bronchus → bronchi
The phrase I before E except after C or when sounded like A as in neighbor or weigh is helpful in order to remember the relationship between the vowels i and e in words.
If adding a suffix to a word ending in y, the y must be changed to an i, unless the suffix itself begins with i or unless a vowel immediately precedes the final y in the root word.
plenty + –ful → plentiful
justify + –ing → justifying
justify + –ed → justified
display + –ed → displayed
When adding a suffix like –ed or –ing to a word ending in a consonant, that final consonant is usually doubled if it is preceded by one vowel and completes a one-syllable word or accented syllable.
refer + –ed → referred
It’s doubled because the consonant ends on an accented syllable (re-FER) and is preceded by one vowel (refer).
limit + –ing → limiting
It’s not doubled because the consonant does not end an accented syllable (LI-mit).
seep + –ed → seeped
It’s not doubled because the final p is preceded by more than one vowel.
consent + –ed → consented
It’s not doubled because the final t is not preceded by a vowel.
Usually, if a root ends with e, the e is dropped when adding a suffix unless the suffix begins with a consonant.
measure + ing → measuring
measure + ment → measurement