Reading and Writing

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 1055-1069

First online:

Developmental stability and changes in the impact of root consistency on children’s spelling

  • S. Hélène DeaconAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University Email author 
  • , Sarah DhoogeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University

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The study reported here examined grade 2–4 children’s sensitivity to the consistency in the spelling of roots in related words. We build on earlier research by attempting to quantify the extent that children’s spellings of both inflected and derived forms accord with this principle. We contrasted children’s accuracy and consistency in spelling the root form (e.g., rock) with that of its spelling in related inflected and derived forms (e.g., rocks and rocky), as well as unrelated control forms (e.g., rocket). Across grades 2–4, children’s spellings accorded with the root consistency principle to the same extent for inflected and derived forms. Nevertheless, it was not until grade 4 that spellings maximally reflected the principle. These results are discussed in terms of how children’s spelling might come to reflect the root consistency principle that guides spelling in English.


Morphology Root consistency Spelling Literacy Inflected Derived