When do you know how to spell a word with a -ly, -ley or a -ely? (Please tell me the rules.)

Whenever there are spelling tests. there are always words that end with a -ly,
-ley or a -ely. But I don't know when to use which one and rely on my guesses and the "looks" of it. Please tell me the rules of when to use which one. Thank you! :D

1 Answer

The suffix LY most often changes an adjective to an adverb. It may also change a verb or a noun to an adjective.

There are a number of rules that apply, as follows:


Words ending in a consonant add LY:
-slow to slowly
-friend to friendly
-week to weekly
-quiet to quietly
-soft to softly
-cost to costly

Adjectives that end with an AL will end with ALLY when the suffix is added:
-final to finally
-formal to formally
-financial to financially
-general to generally

Adjectives that end with FUL will end with FULLY when the suffix is added:
-careful to carefully
-beautiful to beautifully
-peaceful to peacefully
-successful to successfully

When an adjective ends with E, just add LY,
giving the word an ending of ELY:
-polite to politely
-definite to definitely
-mere to merely
-complete to completely
-large to largely
-collective to collectively

When a word ends in LE, preceded by a consonant, drop the E and add Y:
-simple to simply
-terrible to terribly
-possible to possibly
-gentle to gently

Adjectives with more than one syllable that end with Y, change the Y to I and add LY:
-busy to busily
-easy to easily
-steady to steadily
-happy to happily

One syllable adjectives that end with Y, add LY to the end of the word:
-shy to shyly
-sly to slyly
-coy to coyly

The exceptions to this rule are:
-day to daily
-gay to gaily

Adjectives ending in IC, add ALLY to the end of the word:
-optimistic to optimistically
-music to musically
-frantic to frantically
-automatic to automatically

The exceptions any of these rules are:
-due to duly
-whole to wholly

There are also nouns and verb that end with LY, but those are not suffixes added; for example: