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The “able” Spelling Rule

“able” Spellings

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Common Core Language Standard: L.8.2c*

Pre-teaching: The “able” and “ible” suffixes are frequently confused by spellers. Both suffixes generally sound the same with the vowel taking the nasal short /ŭ/ schwa sound.

Definitions and Examples: End a word with “able” if the root before has a hard /c/ or /g/ sound (despicable, navigable), after a complete root word (teachable), or after a silent e (likeable).

Of course… What would a spelling rule be without a few exceptions?

collapsible, contemptible, irresistible, memorable, portable, probable, capable

Spelling Rule Song: (to the tune of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”)

Base words add “able” to the end,

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,

As do word parts,

That’s my name, too.

That end in silent e

Whenever we go out-

Or with hard c or g

The people always shout,

But for all others add “i-b-l-e”.

Saying, “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.”

Check out the spelling song: The “able” or “ible” Spelling Rule

Practice: What’s right and what’s wrong according to the rule? Every applicable rule has been applied to eligable and agreeable citizens. The changable nature of our laws can be frustrating.

Formative Assessment Dictation: His likeable and huggable granddaughter felt comfortable in his home and invincible on the volleyball court.

Related Language Standards: The Vulgar “a” Spelling

*Suggested Grade Level

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the
Common Core grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary Standards. Diagnostic assessments and targeted worksheets help your students catch up while they keep up with rigorous grade-level direct instruction.

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The “able” or “ible” Spelling Rule

The "able" or "ible" Rule

The “able” or “ible” Spelling Rule

By far, writers struggle over the spelling of suffixes more so than the spelling of prefixes or roots. Of the eight conventional spelling rules, all but one (the before e) covers the spelling of suffixes. Of course, the spelling of the root (either an incomplete root or a base word) determines which suffix spelling to use in most cases.

The “able” and “ible” suffixes give writers fits because both sound similar (if not the same). Both are two syllables and both have the schwa /uh/ sound in each syllable. Abandoning the proper diacritical pronunciation marks, we would provide this approximate pronunciation for both “able” and “ible” suffixes: úh / buhl.

Sometimes the “ible” suffix tends to have more of this pronunciation: í (pronounced /ĭ/) / buhl.

About 80% of these suffixes have the “able” spelling (http://www.spellitright.talktalk.net/ends8.html), so if you must guess, don’t guess “ible.” Additionally, the list of “able” suffix new words is growing; no new “ible” suffix words are being added to our language. However, spelling isn’t solely about educated guessing; it’s about applying the rules and memorizing the few which don’t conform.

The “able” or “ible” Spelling Rule

End a word with “able” if the root before has a hard /c/ or /g/ sound (despicable, navigable), after a complete root word (teachable), or after a silent e (likeable). End a word with “ible” if the root has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound (reducible, legible), after an “ss” (admissible), or after an incomplete root word (audible).

Note that a complete root word is called a base word.

Exceptions to the rule: collapsible, contemptible, flexible, formidable, indomitable, inevitable, irresistible, memorable, portable, probable

Check out the song! The song focuses on the “able” rule (as “able” is the most frequent spelling of the two and adds “but for all others add “ible.” Like many things in life, if it’s not one thing, it’s the other. 

John “able” or “ible” Schmidt (to the tune of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”

Base words add “able” to the end,

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,

As do word parts,

That’s my name, too.

That end in silent e

Whenever we go out-

Or with hard c or g

The people always shout,

But for all others add “i-b-l-e”.

Saying, “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.”

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Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4-8

Differentiated Spelling Instruction

I’m Mark Pennington, author of the full-year Differentiated Spelling Instruction programs for grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. The grade-level programs include weekly tests, based upon conventional spelling rules and developmental spelling patterns, weekly spelling sorts, review games, and audio links to catchy spelling songs. Additionally, the comprehensive diagnostic spelling assessment (audio file included) tests spelling patterns from previous grade levels, and the corresponding worksheets allow you to pinpoint instruction according to individual needs. Each worksheet includes a formative assessment to help you determine whether students have mastered the spelling instruction. The program is simple to implement and doesn’t take up too many valuable instructional minutes. You do have other subjects to teach!

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Programs

Or why not get the value-priced Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 BUNDLES? These grade-level programs include both teacher’s guide and student workbooks and are designed to help you teach all the Common Core Anchor Standards for Language. In addition to the Teaching Grammar and Mechanics program, each BUNDLE provides weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of the grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary components.

The program also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment.

Check out the brief introductory video and enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716 at check-out for 10% off this value-priced program. We do sell print versions of the teacher’s guide and student workbooks. Contact mark@penningtonpublishing.com for pricing. Read what teachers are saying about this comprehensive program:

The most comprehensive and easy to teach grammar, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary program. I’m teaching all of the grade-level standards and remediating previous grade-level standards. The no-prep and minimal correction design of this program really respects a teacher’s time. At last, I’m teaching an integrated program–not a hodge-podge collection of DOL grammar, spelling and vocabulary lists, and assorted worksheets. I see measurable progress with both my grade-level and intervention students. BTW… I love the scripted lessons!

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Get the The able or ible Spelling Rule FREE Resource:

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