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English Spelling is Weird.

Here is a statement I think we can all agree on: English spelling is weird!

Wait, shouldn’t that be ‘wierd’? Isn’t it ‘i’ before the ‘e’? As it turns out, there are a lot of exceptions to that rule!

Language and literacy go hand in hand. If you’re having difficulty with oral language development, there is a high chance that literacy development will be more difficult for you too. And it’s already pretty difficult!

As Speech Pathologists, we spend a lot of time helping our clients develop their language and literacy skills. We’re fascinated by the reasons why our spelling rules are so fiendish, and so we’ve decided to write a short series of blogs about some of the stranger aspects of English spelling!

When you listen to English, you’ll hear 44 distinct sounds being made. You might have noticed that we only have 26 letters to represent all these sounds. This is part of why we have so many ways to spell a single sound. Take the long ‘eee’ sound, for example. You might see the following spellings:

  1. ‘ee’ as in ‘bee’

  2. ‘e’ as in ‘Egypt’

  3. ‘ea’ as in ‘seat’

  4. ‘ie’ as in ‘field’

  5. ‘y’ as in ‘baby’

  6. ‘ey’ as in ‘key’

  7. ‘e_e’ as in ‘these’

  8. ‘ei’ as in ‘either’

  9. ‘i’ as in ‘radio’

To understand why this happens, we have to understand a basic truth about language: it is always changing.

But wait – if language is changing and rules like ‘i before e’ are full of exceptions, how can we learn to spell well? A lot of it comes down to our reading skills and the way we learn patterns and combinations of sounds.

If you struggle with knowing the correct spelling of words or in picking up on those changing vowel patterns in words, we would love to help!

You can give our office a call today on (02) 4948 9800 to discuss how a Speech Pathologist can support you or your child, or email us at

We look forward to hearing from you!

Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

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