Language Tips

Spelling tip of the week – address

© Getty Images/Blend Images \ Dave and Les Jacobs

Welcome to our new series of language tips. In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of spelling tips we will be looking at some of the most commonly misspelled words in English and suggesting ways to improve your spelling.

This week’s tip looks at one of the most frequently misspelled words in searches of Macmillan Dictionary: address.

Double letters are often a source of spelling errors, and we will be looking at several common examples in this series. At first sight, however, it seems odd that address should be one of them: it’s a very frequent and familiar word, and it’s not very long, so why is it so frequently misspelled as *adress?

I think the answer lies in the patterns of English. There are 200 entries in Macmillan Dictionary for words beginning with ad-, but only 23 of these begin with add-, including address (verb and noun), address book and addressee. Given that almost 90% of words beginning with ad- have a single d, if you’re unsure it’s actually quite rational to go with the odds and use the more likely spelling.

Another factor might be that in British English, unlike American English, the stress in address always falls on the second syllable. The US pronunciation that has the stress on the first syllable could help remind people that there’s a double d in there. A third possibility is that the confusion arises from the French spelling, which has a single d (‘adresse’). Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas.

As for the best way to remember the correct spelling: some people advise remembering that you add the address to the envelope. Remembering the American pronunciation could also help.

You can find some information on why English spelling is so difficult, as well as helpful tips on mastering it here.

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