Igbo Spelling Rules


The Igbo term for spelling is nsupe. Follow these rules to properly spell Igbo words.

No consecutive consonants
A consonant can not immediately precede another consonant in Igbo spellings. Note that digraphs are seen as single letters formed by two Latin consonants, therefore, one consonant is not immediately preceding another.
ebere - mercy
osisi - tree
akwara - root
achara - bamboo
okpo - worm (parasitic)
idide - earth worm

No word ends in a consonant
Igbo words must end in vowels. Few words might end in M, in which case M is a pseudo-vowel as discussed below. For example, ọdụm is lion, dum is all, and ikpem is innuendo.

Two consecutive vowels is allowed
Two vowels can be written together, but they must belong to the same Igbo vowel group. This relates to the Igbo vowel harmony rule. In rare cases, compound words can cause vowels from different groups to be written together. Imperative verbs in Igbo always end with two vowels.
rie - eat
lee - look
bịa - come
dibịa - doctor
nrịarịa - sickness
ọrịa - sickness
ụtọasụsụ - grammar
akaraaka - talent

The order of consonants and vowels
As mentioned above, there can be two consecutive vowels, but two consecutive consonants is not allowed. Two vowels from the same group can be written and pronounced together, especially in compound words.

Pseudo-vowels
Although two consonants can not come together in Igbo spelling, M and N are exceptions. M and N are consonants when they precede vowels. M and N are pseudo-vowels when they precede consonants. The rule for spelling with pseudo-vowels is M must precede the following consonants: b, f, gb, m, p, kp, v, w. The other 20 consonants are preceded by N.

mbe - tortoise
mfe - light (not heavy)
mgba - wrestling
mma - beauty
mmadụ - human
mpi - horn
mkpụrụ - seed
mvọ/mbọ - comb/nail (finger nail)
mwepụ - subtraction
________________

ncha - soap
ndida - slope/south
ndidi - patience
nganga - pride
nhọpụta - selection
njikọ - union
nku - wing
nri - food
nna - father
nne - mother
nkpebi - resolution
nnyocha - audit/investigation