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The Floss Rule for Spelling

Have you ever wondered why some words have a double consonant at the end (such as sniff), while other words do not (such as dog and bat)?

The answer is easy–and we call it The Floss Rule. The Floss Rule is a really simple spelling rule that helps kids remember when to use a double consonant at the end of a word.

Check out The Floss Rule in this video, and then read on for free printable spelling rule posters and a sample lesson!

Why Do We Call It “The Floss Rule”?

The rule states that if a word has only one vowel and ends in F, L, or S, double the last letter.

The word floss is a perfect example of this rule, and it also contains the letters f, l, and s! That makes “The Floss Rule” a pretty handy name, doesn’t it?

infographic showing the floss rule for spelling

Tips and tricks like The Floss Rule are taught throughout the All About Spelling program. Want to see more? Download these two free resources to see just how easy teaching spelling rules can be.

Download All About Spelling Level 1, Step 18.
This lesson shows how we teach doubling a consonant at the end of one-syllable words.

pdf-icon-transparent-background2-small-p3

Download our free Spelling Rules Posters.
This handy resource will help make learning three important spelling rules easy and fun to remember for your children.

Has the Floss Rule helped your child? I would love to hear about it in the comments below! And check out our other spelling rules, too!

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Melissa Candee

says:

Why is the word “plus” spelled with one s

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

The word plus is an exception to the Floss Rule, Melissa. There are about eight words where a final S is not doubled (us, yes, this, bus, gas, pus, plus, and thus) and about 280 words where it is doubled (grass, miss, less, chess, and many others). So while some of the eight exceptions are very common words that a young reader will see a lot, the rule is reliable 97% of the time for doubling S.

Rochelle

says:

Thank you for this! How does the child drop down the double F, L, or S when spelling with tiles? Does he pronounce one sound (so “f”) and pull down two F’s at the same time? Or does he pronounce the one sound (so “f”) and pull down ONE F and then pull down the second F silently?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good question, Rochelle.

I think either way you proposed is good, but I think I like the idea of pulling down two Fs (or L or S) at once with a single sound. However, it doesn’t really matter. The purpose is to get the child to think about the Floss Rule and either way will do that.

Susan S

says:

These are great posters; thank you! I also like that you included one for coloring… work on that eye/hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Merin

says:

Great lesson! Where can I get that digital scrabble type board?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Merin,
I think you are asking about our Letter Tiles app for tablets. Our Top Tips for Using the Letter Tiles App blog post includes videos for more details on how the app works.

Let me know if you need anything else.

Olivia

says:

This is very helpful! Are there other videos like this?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Olivia,
Yes, we have lots of videos! Check out our All About Learning Press YouTube channel to search through them. We often have blog posts with free printables that go along with the videos as well.

Olivia

says:

Awesome! Thank you!

Emmanuelle

says:

Fantastic! A great yet simple rule to reminder.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Emmanuelle!

Jancy

says:

very useful

Ernie Fairysha

says:

Making my life easier after watching the video

Ernie Fairysha

says:

the spelling makes me more understand about the flow.

Krisann Brown

says:

Love this

Jorje armen

says:

You made my day after 30 years of MISSPELLINGS

Thanks to you.

Edgar Vasquez

says:

Thank you so much for this nice tool.

Getrude mwanza

says:

Thank you so much for this information.it has really helped me

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad this was helpful, Getrude!

Lenora Falciani

says:

May I share this on my website, citing you as a resource of course?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lenora,
I’ve emailed you.

Christina Murren-Plaitford

says:

Thank you so much, I home school my Grandson as he was bullied in state school because he is unable to read and write like that of his peers.
You have given me clarification on Dyslexia and now I can help him a lot more.
Again thank you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Christina, and I am so happy that we were able to help you help your grandson! If you ever have questions or need anything, please reach out.

If you haven’t seen it already, we have a Dyslexia Resources Page that I think will be helpful for you.

Simeon kampanda

says:

Am also teaching school students in spelling rules grades 9-12 here in Zambia.Would like posts for such students too .thank you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Simeon,
There are some articles that should be helpful for older students:
How to Teach Schwas
How to Teach Suffixes
How to Teach Syllable Types
How to Do Spelling Dictation
Teaching Latin Roots with Word Trees
The “Pronounce for Spelling” Technique4 Spelling Strategies You Won’t Want to Miss

I hope this helps! Let me know if there is a specific spelling skill or rule you are looking for.

Simeon kampanda

says:

Very helpful

Esther Okon.

says:

It was really helpful.
Thank you so much.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Esther. I’m glad to hear this was helpful for you.

Sadie R Levine

says:

Thanks- great tips. I am a literacy specialist and the mom of a five-year-old. I appreciate your resources.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Sadie, and thank you!

Asha Evans

says:

Thank you so much.

Georgia

says:

Another common word that does not
follow the floss rule::: “of”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Georgia,
The “of” is a problem for more than the Floss Rule. The letter F says /v/ and that is not a sound it should be making. It is a rule-breaker all around and All About Reading and All About Spelling teach it as such.

Carol

says:

Wondering if it’s because the letter o is not a short vowel within this word, but instead a schwa sounding vowel.

Angie Lambka

says:

This came at the perfect time! I’m getting prepped to start lesson 18, of AAS level 1, with my 8 year old this week. This is the one rule that my middle son had the most trouble memorizing. This video is amazing! Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love great timing, Angie! 😊

Sheryl

says:

I often add z to this rule for my firsties: buzz, fizz, fuzz, frizz, whizz, jazz.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sheryl,
We purposefully chose not to add Z because the rule isn’t as reliable for Z. All About Reading and All About Spelling focus on rules that are reliable 95% of the time or more. Z doubles at the end of words something like 75% of the time. There are the words you list, but then there are words like quiz, fez, and whiz (whiz is one Z, not two). Only a few words end in Z or ZZ, so that adds to the less reliableness of the rule and makes it easier to teach them individually.

Thank you.

Kathy

says:

What about the word bus? One syllable with a short vowel.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good catch, Kathy!
There are almost 300 words that use SS at the end, such as glass, stress, and cross. However, are exceptions. There are only about 8 words that use a single S: us, yes, this, bus, gas, pus, plus, and thus. While the exceptions can be unexpected, the rule holds true approximately 99% of the time and is thus very reliable. The exceptions can be learned as How to Handle Spelling Rule Breakers.

G

says:

What about the word ‘ princess” ? It’s not s single syllable word.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good question. No, the Floss Rule doesn’t apply to the word princess. Rather, the word princess is the word prince with the suffix -ess, which means female. Think of the words actress and waitress. Princess is the same.

Katumba Eric

says:

For sure ,I have been so poor in spelling but now I kwon with time I will improve

Katumba Eric

says:

This has very good to because I have learnt so many new things about spelling

Ivy

says:

What about the word across is this just a rule breaker? We just thought about this word when doing sentences in AAS level 3 step 2 page 24. My child spelled it with one s.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ivy,
Great question! The Floss Rule doesn’t mean that multisyllable words can’t also have doubled F, L, or S, although it is a lot less common.

With across, it’s a base word (cross, which does follow the Floss Rule) with the prefix a, meaning literally “of the cross” referring to the other side of something. However, across has been in common usage for so long (600+ years) that we no longer recognize it as a base word and prefix.

However, I can see that this word can be a curveball to a student, thrown in the dictation like that. I’ll speak with our curriculum development team about that. I’m sorry this was a problem for your child.

Nancy Cole

says:

Love this site! Just discovered it!

Jessica

says:

I had this come up the other day-what about the word ‘plus’?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good catch, Jessica!
There are 280 words that have SS at the end of the of a single syllable word. However, there are 8 words that have a single S at the end of the single syllable word. They are: us, yes, this, bus, gas, pus, plus, thus. Some of these words are common so they will be seen a lot and make the Floss Rule seem less reliable. However, the Floss Rule is reliable over 95% of the time.

I hope this help. Please let me know if you have more questions.

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