Posted by: Jack Henry | July 25, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Correction

My apologies. Today’s EC was edited, but the text from the document I used was incorrect. Please see updates in red below. Thank you to the eagle-eyed folks that spotted this!

Oh, Guru of Grammar,

I have always had a problem with le and el, but having spoken French for several years, it has become even more of an issue.

When should I expect a word to end in le or el? Is there a consonant before the el and a vowel before le? Or is there some other defining rule to help hapless spellers?

Label/ladle: How would I know how to spell either without just memorizing it?

Thank you,


Dear M,

Wow. I feel elevated. Guru of Grammar? It must be the yoga and meditation classes I have been going to!

I thought you were going to have me in a bind with this question, but some kind soul out there actually came up with a rule for these words. I hope you find this helpful! (The full document is here.)

When deciding whether to use -le, -el, or –al at the end of a word, look carefully at the letter that precedes these endings.

Table, local, and towel all sound as if they have the same ending, yet each one has a different spelling for the ending sound. How can you tell which ending to use?

Look at these groups of letters: b d f h k l tand g j p q y

The first group all have lines that go upward; the second group all have lines that point downward. Lines that point up are called ascenders, and lines that point down are called descenders. If a word has an ascender or a descender preceding the /el/ sound, then the -le ending is used most of the time.






If the word does NOT have an ascender or a descender preceding the last

/el/ sound, then you use -el or -al.

With these two options, how do you know which one to use? While there

is not a hard and fast rule, some helpful information does exist. The -al ending is used for mostly adjectives, but some nouns. The -elending is the least common ending (so you won’t be using it much), and it is used mostly for nouns and verbs.

usual (adjective)

local (adjective)

tunnel (noun)

camel (noun)

travel (verb)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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