This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
BEAUTIFUL penmanship should be accompanied by correct spelling. If the person can possess but one accomplishment, it is, in fact, better to spell correctly than to write well. Nothing so mars the effect of beautiful chirography as bad spelling, which is the more conspicuous when set off by good penmanship. True, there are over a hundred thousand words in the English language, and we cannot reasonably be expected to remember the correct orthography of them all; and not until the phonetic system is received, by which every word is represented by a recognized sign, can we spell all words correctly without reference to the dictionary; but the few hundred words in general use are not so difficult to master. At any rate, the writer should have at hand a reliable dictionary, and no word should go from his hand without being correctly spelled.
The following will aid students somewhat in their knowledge of spelling:
An elementary sound is the simplest sound of the English language, as a, e, b, k.
The English language contains about forty elementary sounds.
These sounds are divided into three classes - vocals, sub-vocals, and aspirates.
The vocals consist of a pure tone only, as a, e, i, o, u.
The sub-vocals consist of tone united with breath; as b, d, 1, m, n, r.
The aspirates consist of pure breath only; as p, t, k, f.
The following words contain the different elementary sounds of the language :
Vocals. - N-a-me, b-a-11, a-t, m-e, m-e-t, f-i-ne, p-i-n, s-o-ld, m-o-ve, n-o-t, m-u-te, p-u-11, c-u-p, f-ou-nd.
Sub-vocals. - B-at, d-og, g-o, j-oy, l-ife, m-an, n-o, so-ng, ba-r, th-ose, v-oice, w-ise, y-es, z-one, a-z-ure.
Aspirates. - F-aith, h-at, ar-k, p-ine, s-un, t-ake, th-ink, sh-one, ch-ur-ch, wh-en.
A letter is a character used to represent an elementary sound.
The English Alphabet contains twenty-six letters: A, a; B, b; C, c; D, d; E, e; F, f; G, g; H, h; I, i; J, j; K, k; L, 1; M, m; N, n; O, o; P, p; Q, q; R, r S, s; T, t; U, u; V,v; W,w; X, x; Y, y; Z, z.
As will be seen, there are more elementary sounds than letters. It therefore follows that some letters must represent more than one sound each.
Those letters which represent vocals are called vowels. They are a, e, t, o, u, and sometimes w and y.
Those letters which represent sub-vocals and aspirates are called consonants.
The sub-vocals and consonants are J, d, g, l, m, n, r, v, z.
The aspirates and consonants are f, h, k, c, q, p, t, s.
1. Words of one syllable ending in F, l, or s, preceded by a single vowel, double the final consonant; as staff, mill, pass; except if,
OF, AS, GAS, HAS, WAS, YES, IS, HIS, THIS, US, THUS.
2. Words ending in any other consonant except F, l, and s, do not double the final letter; except add, odd, egg, ebb, inn, ebb, puRR, butt, buzz, and some proper names.
8. Words of one syllable, and words accented on the last syllable, when they end with a single consonant, preceded by a single vowel, double the final consonant before an additional syllable beginning with a vowel; as bob, bobbeR; pebmit, peRmitting; but x final, being equivalent to ks, is an exception, and is never doubled.
4. A final consonant, when not preceded by a single vowel, or when the accent is not on the last syllable, should remain single before an additional syllable; as toil, toiling; visit, visited. L and s are often doubled, in violation of this rule, when the accent is not on the last syllable: as tRavel, tRavelleR; bias, biassed. It is better to write tRaveleR and biased.
6. Primitive words ending in ll reject one l before less and lY; as skill, skilless; Full, fully : but words ending in any other double letter, preserve it double before these terminations; as FRee, fReely; ODD, ODDLY.
6. The final e of a primitive word is generally omitted before an additional termination beginning with a vowel; as bate, eatable; foRce, foRcible; but words ending in ce and ge retain the e before able and ous; as peace, peaceable; outRage, outRageous.
7. The final E of a primitive word is generally retained before an additional termination beginning with a consonant; as pale, paleness; but when the e is preceded by a vowel it is sometimes omitted; as tRue, tRuly : and sometimes retained; as shoe, shoeless.
8. The final y of a primitive word, when preceded by a consonant, is changed into before an additional termination; as meRRY, meR-bily: but with a vowel before, the y is not changed; as valley, valleys, and not values, as frequently written; and before ing the y is retained to prevent the doubling of the I; as pity, pitying.
9. Compounds generally retain the orthography of the simple words of which they are composed; as all-wise, blue-eyed.
11. Some words are spelt the same in both the singular and plural; as deeR, sheep, etc., in which instance, by placing a before the word, one is meant, and by using the, more than one.
12. Some words are spelt altogether differently in the singular and plural; as mouse, mice; goose, geese.
13. In spelling words it is necessary to consider well the different sounds of each part of the word. Every separate sound in a word must have in it one of the following letters, a, e, i, o, or u. Take for instance, contemplate, which consists of three different sounds, con-tem-plate; there are the letters o, e, and a, respectively, in each sound or syllable, as it is called, and each one gives the sound to its syllable. In dividing such words at the end of a line, you must not let the last letter be any one of the above-mentioned five vowels, but must divide according to the syllable.
Another rule to be observed in the spelling of words which have ing added to them, when such words end in e, the e must always be left out; as come, coming; divide, dividing.
It is also found difficult when the letters I and E come together in a word, to know which is to be placed first. The following simple rule will obviate such difficulty: When I and e follow c in a word, the e is usually placed first; as Receive, deceive, conceive, etc.; in other instances the I comes before the e; as believe, believe, etc.