+0
Okay, this always bothers me. I am a HORRIBLE speller, and without the those little red lines, I'd be a mess.

Public. Publicly. Not publically.
Accident. Accidentally. Not accidently.

Why? Is there any sort of rule that can be applied? I know you can have "accidental" but not "publical" so is that the key? Is it really just "al gets ally and everything else gets ly"?

Are there other words that take the -ally ending?

You seem to be so well informed about the evolution of these things. I'd appreciate your insight, and maybe it will help me spell more things right the first time.
+0
I have the same problem. I would say "public-lee" and "accident-uh-lee", so the spellings -cly and -tally would make sense, somehow. However, not everyone pronounces those words the same way, and so I don't think this can be a sensible rule. Merriam-Webstersays "publically" is a possible spelling as well, and the same goes for "accidently", but it doesn't mention spellings like "harmonicly" or "magicly".
Grammar GeekWhy? Is there any sort of rule that can be applied? I know you can have "accidental" but not "publical" so is that the key? Is it really just "al gets ally and everything else gets ly"?
Maybe. But then there's the problem of knowing whether the suffix -al is allowed or not, which might not be a problem for you, but it is for me. Statistic or statistical? Harmonic or harmonical? Historic or historical? Artistic or artistical? And I just looked up "artistical" in the dictionary, and... it isn't there: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artistic - Artistic, and yet you say "artistically". So your theory doesn't really work either.

I'm not a native speaker, and I need to use dictionaries and spell checkers all the time (although here on EF, with this editor, the spell checker doesn't work... and that really bothers me). I'm afraid that spell checkers were invented for a reason, and... you'll have to use them, LOL.

PS: Sorry, I'm not CalifJim, but no one has replied yet... and I couldn't miss this thread, because I get email notifications whenever a friend starts a new thread. Emotion: stick out tongue
Comments  
Well, maybe it makes you feel better to know that I have the same problem as you!

As for "knowing" whether that "al" ending exists, I wish I had a dollar for every time I was tempted to write "There is no such word X" in the forum in response to a post, and then, just to be sure, I looked it up, and by gum, it WAS a word. Just not a word that I've ever seen used!

Thanks!