Orthography: Key Points to Master English

It is ultimately impossible to write well without knowing basic rules of orthography. It is like trying to build a ship with your bare hands. For such a massive task you would need tools, and in case of writing, words are our tools. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to learn how to use them properly and this is exactly what orthography is for.

Today we will discuss some basic, the most necessary rules of English orthography in order to give you tools for good writing. It is irrelevant what kind of papers you write, be it blog posts or college essays, orthography is a must have in each case. However, if you often deal with academic papers, like essays, dissertations, reports, etc, you should remember about existence of editing services. Royal Editing is a company that offers you professional editing and proofreading services from certified, experienced editors. We can turn your piece of writing into excellent, flawless paper, even if you have very little experience with English orthography. In addition, the pricing policy is so flexible and friendly that even a student can afford to fix his paper online.

What Is Orthography?

Before we begin getting acquainted with key points of English orthography, which will help you to write better papers, it is worth to understand what orthography actually is. Orthography is a part of language system that studies and organizes the rules of spelling, punctuation and hyphenation. In other words, orthography deals with rules of writing. Therefore, it is so important for those who want to achieve some goals through writing.

Orthography Key Points

Since orthography presents a complex system of rules related to different parts of written language, it would make sense if we revised it systematically, one element after another. Of course, it would be impossible to review every rule of orthography in one article, but if you want to keep learning and improving your grammar skills, you will be able to find a lot of helpful, informative articles on our blog. This list comprises of the most important points, which you will inevitably face when writing.

  • Same spelling different pronunciation. English language is full of words with digraphs (combination of two letters) that have same spelling but different pronunciation. In most of the cases these confusing digraphs are ‘ch, gh, ph’.

For example, in words like chapter, champion, church, check, the digraph ‘ch’ makes a sound []. However, in other words like character, chemistry, stomach, the ‘ch’ pronounced rather like hard ‘c’ or ‘k’.

Another often misspelled and mispronounced digraph is ‘ph’. Despite its place in the word, it always makes the same sound ‘f’, like in words photo, telephone, and graph. However, many people still misspell it using a letter ‘f’ instead of digraph ‘ph’.

It is easy to get confused about the right spelling and pronunciation of some words, especially if you are not a native English speaker. Thus, to avoid mistakes, you should always consult an online dictionary, where you will be able to see a spelling and listen to a correct pronunciation;

  • Words with ‘ough’. This combination of letters can make a different sound depending on what letters it surrounded by. It is hard to find some logic between different pronunciations in each case, it can only be explained by the fact that majority of English words are of various origins, like Greek, Latin, French. Therefore, the only way to get these words right is to use a dictionary or professional editing services. You might think that pronunciation has little to do with writing, but it is a common misconception, because any writing must sound good, have a rhythm and sometimes rhyme. Poetry would not be possible if a poet didn’t know how the words were pronounced. Here are just a few examples to illustrate how same letters can make different sounds:

enoughhas its ‘ough’sounding similar to ‘ph’ like in telephone;

throughsounds likethrew;

boughtsounds like dot.

  • Homophones play an important role in English orthography and cause a lot of troubles for language learners, as well as to the native speakers. Homophones are the words that sound alike, but have a different meaning. For example, a verb ‘die’, which means death is often confused with another verb ‘dye’ — to paint or to color something. Another two words don’t even belong to the same part of language, but still sound the same when having absolutely different meaning, are ‘our’ and ‘hour’. There is no general rule that could teach you how to distinguish homophones. The only useful tip would be to pay close attention to the context and over and over again, when you are not sure, check the meaning of words in a dictionary. Homophones related mistakes are often made when you write in a rush, thus it is crucial that you take some time to revise what you wrote. However, you can entrust this task to professionals like Royal Editing;
  • Silent letters. In English language pronunciation is inseparable from spelling, thus with time orthography developed a separate section called phonology. Phonology studies the words in which spellings don’t correspond with sounds. And important place in this section take the words with silent letters. Silent letters perform no function whatsoever, for example like ‘h’ in words which, ghost, honest, or like letter ‘b’ in thumb, debt, bomb. Moreover, the letter ‘e’ is soundless at the end of most of English words. For example, have, like, name, grave, etc. However, if the last ‘e’ is pronounced, it means that the word is extracted from some other language (e.g. café);
  • Hyphenation can seem like a no trouble area of English. However, an improperly used hyphen can completely change the meaning of a sentence. But luckily, correct hyphen usage is very easy to learn. You will understand it after we illustrate it with some examples.

It is an ancient-history teacher. Without the hyphen it would imply that the teacher himself was ancient. But with hyphen it means that he taught ancient history.

She wore a green-polka dot dress. The usage of hyphen implies that polka dot pattern was green. And in opposite, if the hyphen would be missing, the sentence would mean that the dress itself was green.

As can be concluded from all of the above points, orthography is a part of English that concerns itself with written language. Therefore, proper application of orthography rules is crucial for your writing success. Language is a very complex creation that constantly change, thus even a lifetime would not be enough to master it fully. Nevertheless, there are people like editors and proofreaders from Royal Editing, who devote their lives to studying language and helping others to improve. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any assistance with your papers. In addition, on our blog you can learn many useful grammar tips and read free samples of essays, which could help you to work out your own ideas.