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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. It’s a really simple spelling rule that helps kids remember when to use a double consonant at the end of a word.

Check out this handy rule in the video below, 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

More tips and tricks like this one 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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David Mckenry

says:

Very interesting and informative, thank you.

Robin

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, David. Thank you.

Holli

says:

I love the use of FLOSS to help remember the rule. It’s brilliant! My daughter has asked about the exceptions you listed and wants to know why those words don’t have the “s” doubled? The words all follow the requirements for the rule but we don’t double the ending letter. Could you help explain why? Thanks.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Holli,
Your daughter is really thinking about words, and that is great! That kind of thinking means deeper learning is happening!

Well, gas and bus are exceptions because they are abbreviations. They are short for gasoline and autobus (I was surprised to learn that bus was an abbreviation of a word I had never heard of before!).

Chef is an exception because it is a French loan word. Words from other languages don’t have to follow English rules.

Plus was brought into English without change from Latin (it is spelled, pronounced, and more or less means the same). So, for a long time, it was like putting “et cetera” within an English sentence. It was Latin and the Latin spelling remained. However, it’s been in English for so long that it really ought to have had it’s spelling changed but that never happened. So, plus is spelled with one S because it was always spelled with one S. Sigh.

Gal is, and has always been, slang. It arrived from a strong regional accent version of the word girl, and along the way it started to be written the way it was pronounced (such as “because” sometimes written as “becuz”). Still, it probably should have been spelled in accordance to English rules but never was.

If, yes, this, and us are spelled the way they are because very common function words in English are spelled with as few letters as possible.

English is known for having exceptions to its rules, so please let your daughter know that there will always be some words that be rule-breakers. It’s just how English works. Sigh. However, All About Reading and All About Spelling focus only on the rules that are the most reliable and have the fewest exceptions. If a rule is reliable only 75% of the time, we don’t teach it!

Considering how few words in English are exceptions to the Floss Rule and how many words do follow it, it is highly reliable. Hundreds of words follow this rule and it reliable about 97% of the time!

Meagan Marazzo

says:

Love this!

D.Sammy

says:

Thanks for these tips
Just like to know how and when double consonant in the middle(lesson,spelling,middle)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

The reason a consonant in a middle of a word may be doubled is to protect the short vowel sound. This has to do with open and closed syllables. Please look over our How to Teach Open and Closed Syllables blog post for an overview of them.

When there is only one consonant between two vowels in a two-syllable word, such as the word robot, the word is usually divided so the consonant goes with the second vowel, making the first syllable an open syllable. So, robot is divided ro-bot. Vowels say their long sounds when in open syllables, so robot sounds like it does.

But sometimes we want a word to have a short vowel in the first syllable even though it only has one consonant sound between the vowels. If we tried to spell the word rabbit with only one B, it would result in the A saying the long A sound, and the word wouldn’t be correct. So, the B is doubled so that the word is divided rab-bit, with the first vowel in a closed syllable saying its short vowel sound.

There are exceptions to this, where there are words with short vowels in the first syllable but only one consonant between the vowels. Examples are cabin, habit, and topic. However, the majority of words will double the consonant to protect the short vowel sound.

I hope this helps you understand, but let me know if you have additional questions. I’m happy to help!

Josefina H.

says:

Thank you for sharing with us.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Josefina!

Deanna

says:

These tips and tricks make spelling so much easier!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Deanna!

Deanna

says:

How did i never know this? Thank you for these tips and tricks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Deanna! I think many have not heard of the Floss Rule.

Ginny

says:

Definitely printing out the poster! Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Ginny!

Jessica

says:

We’re just now getting to this and I’m amazed at how well my son can already spell and read! This is such a great program…I’ve even learned a thing or two from this :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad to hear it is going so well for you and your son, Jessica! Keep up the great work!

Angela

says:

This rule has been so helpful for my son AND me! Thanks for making spelling fun!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Angela! Glad to know this rule is helpful.

Dawn

says:

What a great way to remember this rule and such a helpful poster! Thank-You!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Dawn!

Amanda Dunville

says:

I love this! This is the level of spelling my son is at and what an easy rule to explain to him to help him succeed.

Rebecca Baertlein

says:

I knew this rule but never noticed this fun way to remember it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rebecca,
It is helpful to make rules easy to remember!

Brandy

says:

Thank you for sharing such good tips and rules

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Brandy!

YaadStyle Homeschooling

says:

Great explanation. Thank you for the poster as well. Great video. Thank you so much.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome!

Cassie

says:

Good to know!

Bobbie-Jo Saylor

says:

The Floss Rule has been great for my 2nd Grader! We printed off the posters and it has really helped!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so glad to hear that the posters were helpful, Bobbie-Jo!

Kristin Tucker

says:

This is really helpful! Thank you. 🥰

Lynn

says:

Key words are a great way for children to remember spelling rules!

Candy

says:

What a great concept! All About Learning is great!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Awww, thank you, Candy!

Jenny Beth Penrod

says:

The little extras are what make All About Learning great!

Beth

says:

I love these fun posters! All About Reading has been the key to success for my dyslexic son. I’m excited to start All About Spelling with him soon!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s great that All About Reading is working well for your son, Beth!

Lori Mahan

says:

I have never heard of the floss rule. Love it. I need the spelling to help cloase the gaps. Wish I could get my school to purchase this to help us. Main stream publishers don’t do enough spelling, grammar, or writing.

Jess

says:

That’s so clever. Thanks!

Kasey Gagnon

says:

Helpful resource. Thank you.

Jennifer Herrin

says:

Thank you!

J

says:

Love these posters!

Anne Perry

says:

Great tips!! I will share this video with my son.

Brianna

says:

Thanks for the intro to All About Reading! Brianna

Shannon

says:

Thank you