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Spelling:  w and wh
Blow out the candles and make a wish!

Spelling: w and wh

Wh- and w- words cause confusion in English when it comes to their spelling. Here's a useful tip: if it's a question word beginning with 'w-', then it's spelt with 'wh-'. For example: 'what?', 'where?'.

The trouble is that for words beginning with wh, the h isn't pronounced. Where and wear sound exactly the same. Not only do some people get the spelling wrong - they also get the word completely wrong. It's fairly common to see whether and weather mixed up! Here's a little phrase to help you remember what both mean.

  • Weather the storm; whether you want to or not.

As you can see, the two words are in alphabetical order ~ weather before whether. If you memorise this little phrase, it might help if you are unsure. Try this 11-plus quiz and see how well you do with 'wh-' and 'w-' spelling. By the way: question words are followed by a '?' and the meanings of the other words are given in the brackets.

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1.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
whip (to lash somebody or something)
welk (a marine mollusc: a sea creature)
wear (to clothe)
weave (to make cloth)
The spelling should be 'whelk'
2.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
warf (a docking place for ships)
whetstone (a stone used for sharpening tools and weapons)
weather (the condition of the atmosphere)
whist (a card game)
The spelling should be 'wharf'
3.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
when?
where?
which?
whoose?
The spelling should be 'whose'
4.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
whose?
weel (a rotating round part)
who?
whom?
The spelling should be 'wheel'
5.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
whim (a sudden thought or idea)
wale (a big marine mammal)
whine (to make a high-pitched sorrowful sound)
wine (an alcoholic drink made from grapes)
The spelling should be 'whale'
6.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
when?
why?
whitch (somebody with magic powers)
what?
The spelling should be 'witch'
7.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
wasp (an insect)
warp (to get twisted)
whiff (slight or brief smell)
wheak (not strong or fit)
The spelling should be 'weak'
8.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
which?
why?
when?
wayer?
The spelling should be 'where'
9.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
whisper (to speak very quietly)
wish (desire)
were (past tense of verb 'be')
whealth (a great amount of money)
The spelling should be 'wealth'
10.
Which one of the following words has been spelt wrongly?
whiskey (an alcoholic drink)
whack (to hit with a loud sharp blow)
weat (grass with edible grain)
werewolf (somebody who can change into a wolf)
The spelling should be 'wheat'
Author:  Frank Evans

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