The Drop E rule can help students with both spelling and reading. This rule says if the base word ends in a silent e and you add a vowel suffix you usually drop the e from the base word before adding the suffix. In the world of teaching spelling, the Drop E Rule is essential to your students. It’s a simple yet powerful rule that helps children spell words correctly, even if they’re adding suffixes.
Imagine you have the base word “time” and want to add -ed, -er, and -ing. Without the Drop the E Rule, you’d get the spellings “timeed,” “timeer,” and “timeing.” That doesn’t look or sound right, does it? But with the Drop E Rule, you get “timed,” “timer,” and “timing.”
Why is the Drop E Rule necessary?
It’s all about the vowels. When you have two vowels in a row, they usually make a new sound as a team. However, the silent E would affect the suffixed vowel, rather than the first vowel in the base word.
Prerequisites to learning the Drop E Rule
The “drop e” rule in the English language requires students to have a good command of the basics. Before learning this rule, students should already be familiar with identifying the different parts of a word, such as base words, prefixes, and suffixes.
They should also be able to differentiate between consonant and vowel suffixes, and have a sound knowledge of syllables such as open, closed, and vowel-consonant-e syllables.
Moreover, students must have a good grasp of common suffixes. By understanding and applying these fundamentals, they will realize the importance of the drop e rule, which prevents words from becoming spelled incorrectly.
How to Teach the Drop E Rule
To build a sturdy foundation for spelling lessons, it’s important to start with the basics.
Follow the same process as when teaching the doubling rule.
- Help students diffrentiate between suffixes reviewing consonant and vowel suffixes is an essential first step. A vowel suffix starts with a vowel. Some examples are: -ing, -ed, -able, -ous, -er, -est A consonant suffix starts with a consonant. Some examples are : -ly, -ful, -ment, -ness, -less, -ty.
- Set the stage for the drop e rule which can be displayed on a helpful poster that you may download for free below.
- Demonstrate and practice with students on whiteboards, with magnetic letters and paper writing activities, so students can feel confident about adding suffixes to base words that end in silent e.
Take a word like hope + ful. With the consonant suffix -ful there is no need to drop the final e.
But when the student has a suffix that begins with a vowel like -ing the student will usually drop the final e of the base word. So hope + ing is written as hoping. Usually, students who learn the context of the sentence will distinguish the pronunciation and reading of the word “hoping” in contrast to “hopping.”
So the student would read The bunny is hopping down the hill. Here the spelling of “hopping” uses the doubling rule.
In contrast to the sentence with the base word “hope” that would be used in examples such as I am hoping to get a puppy.
Learning to read drop e rule words with vowel suffixes with an altered base is not usually a problem because the meaning is usually clear but spelling rules for dropping the e and the doubling rule need a lot of spelling practice beyond spelling words or a spelling test.
Students need to practice writing with the correct application of these rules in context so they can see how errors in spelling affect pronunciation and meaning and create confusing sentences.
The Soft C and Soft G Exceptions to the drop the e rule
There’s one very important exception to the “drop the e” rule in spelling. It turns out that if the silent e has another job, like making a c or g sound soft, it will stay put when you add a vowel suffix beginning with a letter other than e, i, or y. The is necessary to maintain the soft sounds of the <c> and the <g> in certain words
Adding Vowel Suffixes -able and -ous
This is especially true when you add suffixes like -able or -ous to words like “manage” +(-able) becomes “manageable” and courage + (-ous) becomes “courageous”. If the silent <e> was dropped in these cases the pronunciation and meaning of these words would be confused.
Of course, there are always some exceptions to the exceptions. Some words need the e to keep their meaning intact – like the examples like “canoeing” or “singeing” which would be confused for “singing” as in singing a song.
American English vs. British English
And in other cases, the e might be dropped before a consonant suffix, but these words often have multiple accepted spellings for English words (like awful or judgment). Sometimes applying the dropping rule differs a bit between American English and British English spelling. So, even though the “drop e” rule seems pretty straightforward, there are a few twists and turns to keep in mind!
Practice Practice Practice
When working with parents and teachers to help students who struggle with reading and spelling I often hear “The students can spell words on their spelling tests why can’t they spell the words in their writing.”
Most students learn skills best through fun repetition. Many times when covering spelling rules students are not given enough time to practice. That’s why I have created so many games and decodable stories that cover the drop-e spelling rule and the doubling spelling rule.
The importance of immediate corrective feedback
We need to help students correct errors quickly when they spell words incorrectly in their everyday writing. This consistent corrective feedback is incredibly important to the learning process.
If students are not assisted in correcting their spelling as they write they practice spelling and reading incorrectly. We need to help children to correct their spelling even in their rough drafts or daily work. It is not enough to just point out spelling errors.
Have students verbalize the spelling rules
We need to ask children to correct errors and explain what spelling rules need to be applied to misspelled words.
Once students begin to apply the drop-e rule or other spelling rules in their writing and explain the rules daily this can help them generalize correct spelling every day.
I hope this blog post, Free Activities, and Drop E rule poster will help your students with their reading and spelling.
The Drop E Rule says if the base word ends in a silent e and you add a vowel suffix such as (-ed, -ing, and-er) you usually drop the e from the base word before adding the suffix.