Language Tips

Spelling tip of the week – divide

© Macmillan
Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

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.

When users are looking for the word divide in Macmillan Dictionary, they often search for *devide instead.

This seems to be a simple case of plumping for the wrong one of two spellings that sound the same. The first vowel sound in divide is the short ‘i’, shown in our dictionary as /ɪ/; but so is the first vowel in devise, develop, devoted, and many other words starting with ‘de-‘. Conversely, several words beginning ‘div-‘ have the short /ɪ/ sound (divine, divorce, divan) but others (diverge, divert, divest) do not: the sound for these is the diphthong //. Stress is no help here either, as all these words place the stress on the second syllable.

Divide seems to be one of those cases where you just have to learn the correct spelling. A mnemonic like ‘two i’s in divide’ might help.

You can find some information on why English spelling is so difficult, as well as helpful tips on mastering it here. You can search for other posts in this series using the tag ‘spelling tips’.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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