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Spelling

There are many reasons why our English spelling system is confusing. With the advent of the printing press back in 1440, spelling became much more uniform. Dictionaries emerged to further solidify the correct spelling of words. Then over time, pronunciations of some words shifted, but the spelling remained the same. Our habit of borrowing words from other languages and then changing them – or not – to fit our spelling and pronunciation systems has made the whole affair even messier. So we are stuck in the mire of our own making, and the only solution is to don waders and muck our way through.

Spell Check isn’t smart enough to catch these vagaries, so one way to remember some of the inconsistencies is to group words with similar spellings and/or pronunciations and just outright memorize them.

Here is Helpful Spelling Tip #1 to get you started.

Many people confuse the words loose and lose, and for good reason. The word loose is spelled like the word choose, so the temptation is to use loose as you would use choose, as in I don’t want to loose my iPad.

Unfortunately, even though the spellings are similar, in this case the pronunciations are different. In choose, the -s sounds like -z; in loose, the -s sounds like -s. So the above sentence should read I don’t want to lose my iPad.

One way to remember this pronunciation difference is to pair loose with goose, and pair lose with booze. That might result in a nonsense sentence like The loose goose will lose its booze.

Or if you’re more comfortable memorizing the three verb forms, you could start muttering in your sleep every night: choose, chose, chosen and lose, lost, lost.

Other than these tips, I’m afraid I’ve exhausted my imagination. If you have found other ways to keep loose and lose/choose and chose straight in your mind, please feel free to share.

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