Spelling the word endings le, al, el

Think back - help with spelling rules Remember:
The ending le is the most common one to use after these letters:
b c d f g k p st t z

That gives you these letter patterns:

ble cle dle fle gle kle ple stle tle zle

......but don't forget the rule-breakers you have just seen on page 4.

 

Teaching point These rules tell you when you must use al or el:

1. Use al or el after these letters:  m  n  r  v  w

2. Use al or el after a consonant digraph:  sh  ch  th  qu

3. Use al or el after a vowel in words like:  usual  fuel

Unfortunately, the rules above don't tell you whether it is al or el. This means you must learn as before, by looking, writing them in groups and saying the words aloud, stressing the weak vowel.

The most common examples are in the three tables below:

  al el
m animal
dismal
formal
mammal
camel
enamel
n criminal
diagonal
eternal
external
final
internal
national
signal
channel
flannel
funnel
kennel
tunnel
r admiral
cathedral
coral
corporal
federal
floral
funeral
general
liberal
mineral
natural
numeral
several
barrel
cockerel
quarrel
squirrel
v carnival
festival
interval
oval
rival
bevel
drivel
gravel
grovel
hovel
level
marvel
novel
shovel
snivel
swivel
travel
w bowel
jewel
towel
trowel
vowel

  al el
ch al as a suffix (ch = /k/)
monarchal
patriarchal
satchel
qu equal sequel
sh marshal bushel
th lethal
wherewithal
brothel
Notes:
1. Odd word: menthol
2. Words ending in cial and tial, saying /shEnglish spelling of schwa soundl/, are in Unit 30

These words have a vowel just before the final /English spelling of schwa soundl/ syllable.
The most common spelling after a vowel is al.
cereal* denial
dial
jovial
material
trial
serial*
actual
dual*
factual
gradual
manual
ritual
usual
virtual
visual
loyal
royal
A few words use el after a vowel :
cruel duel* fuel spaniel

Think back - help with spelling rules Remember:
If the ending is a suffix, the spelling is al. For example:

accident > accidental approve > approval betray > betrayal
coast > coastal nature > natural tide > tidal

In many other words, the al ending is also a suffix, even though the root word is not obvious. For example:

ritual - from the root word rite, meaning ceremony

mortal - the Latin word for death is mort

dental - the Latin word for tooth is dentis

Teaching point A few words end in il. Even though this is the unstressed syllable, you can sometimes hear the /i/ sound quite clearly.

To be sure you know these words, study this list:

anvil April basil civil council* devil
evil fossil gerbil lentil nostril pencil
peril pupil stencil tranquil utensil vigil

And finally :

Think back - help with spelling rules Remember the suffixing rules:

For words ending in le:

Drop the e when you add a vowel suffix:

wobble + ing = wobbling prickle + y = prickly

Keep the e when you add a consonant suffix:

entitle + ment = entitlement trouble + some = troublesome

The suffixing rules for two-syllable words ending in l are covered in Unit 34 page 7. To see these rules now, click here.

next part of the spelling course Go to the test in le al and el words

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Unit 26: Spelling the endings -le -al -el

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