Spelling and Pronunciation

Words ending in -ize and -ise

In British English some words can be spelt with either -ize or -ise. In American English, the forms with -ize is more common.

Examples are given below:

British English

  • Realize / realise
  • Computerize / computerise
  • Mechanize / mechanise
  • Baptize / baptise

American English

  • Realize
  • Mechanize
  • Computerize
  • Baptize

Most words of two or more syllables have -ise in both British and American English.

Examples are:

  • Surprise, revise, exercise, advise, comprise, despise, compromise, improvise, supervise, televise, advertise


In American English, advertize is also possible.

If in doubt, remember that -ise is almost always correct in British English.

Spelling and pronunciation

In English, spelling words is not easy. In fact, even native English speakers often find it difficult to spell words correctly. This is mainly because the pronunciation of many English words has changed over the last few hundred years. The spelling system, on the other hand, has stayed more or less the same. Here is a list of some common words that often cause difficulty.

In the following words the letters in brackets are not pronounced.

  • Ev(e)ning
  • Asp(i)rin
  • Bus(i)ness
  • Choc(o)late
  • Diff(e)rent
  • Ev(e)ry
  • Marri(a)ge
  • Om(e)lette
  • Rest(au)rant
  • Sev(e)ral
  • Med(i)cine

The following four syllable words are usually pronounced like three syllable words. The letters in brackets are usually not pronounced.

  • Comf(or)table
  • Int(e)resting
  • Temp(e)rature
  • Us(u)ally
  • Veg(e)table

Silent letters

In the following words b is silent.

  • Climb, comb, dumb

In the following words d is silent.

  • Handkerchief, sandwich, Wednesday

The gh is silent in the following words.

  • Bought, caught,  ought,  thought, daughter, height, high, light, might, neighbour, right, sight, tight, straight, through, weigh

In the following words h is silent

  • What, when, whip, why, honest, hour, honour