Spelling - Eliminating 'e'


To learn and practise the spelling rules associated with base words ending in 'e' when endings (suffixes) are added.

Lesson plan

The lesson is divided into a series of activities where students group words according to whether they drop or keep the final 'e' of the base word when a suffix is added. For each set of examples, students are asked to identify and make predictions about the patterns for this area of spelling.

Activity 1

Ask students to look at the set of examples and sort them into two different groups:

  • DROP 'E' GROUP: examples that drop the final e of base word (the word being added to)
  • KEEP 'E' GROUP: examples that keep the final e of the base word

Then, after they have sorted the examples into two groups, ask them if they can see a pattern. When do we drop the e and when do we keep it? A clue is to look at the first letter of the suffixes (endings).

Activity 2

Ask students to look at the next set of examples and decide if they belong in the DROP 'E' or KEEP 'E' group.

Then, ask them the questions on the slide - how are the examples different from the previous examples, and do they fit the pattern identified above?

Activity 3

Now we'll look at another group of words. Students should again sort the examples into the DROP 'E' or KEEP 'E' groups.

Then ask students to investigate the pattern.

Activity 4

This is a more advanced activity.

In the next set of examples, students should again sort the examples into the DROP 'E' or KEEP 'E' groups.

Then ask students if the examples fit the pattern identified previously, and if not, what pattern can they see?

Activity 5

This is a more advanced activity.

We might predict that base words ending in -ge or -ce do drop the e before suffixes which start with e or i, as the e is not needed to mark a ‘soft g’ or ‘soft c’ (they are usually soft before an i as well as an e).

Ask students to check whether that prediction holds true for the next set of examples, by assigning each example to the correct group.


We have looked at the most important patterns with E-DROP when adding suffixes. We can sum them up like this:

  • When the suffix starts with a consonant, we generally keep the e (e.g. hopeful).
  • When the suffix starts with a vowel, we generally drop the e (e.g. arrival), EXCEPT
  • We keep it when it is part of ee or oe (e.g. seeing).
  • We keep it when we need it to mark a ‘soft g’ or ‘soft c’ pronunciation (e.g. manageable).

There are a few exceptions (as with most English spelling rules!), but these points cover the main patterns.

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