Most Often Misspelled Words


I have a bachelor’s degree in communications. I have my master’s in journalism. That said, I’ll be the first to tell you that I am a terrible speller. Loving to write and being able to spell don’t necessarilly necessarily go hand in hand. That’s why I constantly use spell check.

Many writers send me emails looking to contribute to one of the magazines I work for. When an email, cover letter, or resume come across my desk with misspelled words I get angry. These people want to publish articles and they can’t even take the time to make sure their query is spell checked? Please.

I’ve made a list for you that includes 10 of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. There are a lot of tips for writers to keep in mind, but here’s another: remember that spell check is your friend.

Accommodate: I always forget about the second ‘m’.

Acknowledgment: I want to omit the ‘d’ and add in an ‘e’.

Consensus: I wish the first ‘s’ was a ‘c’.

Dependent: I always want to throw an ‘a’ in there somewhere.

Inadvertent: Again with the random ‘a’.

Indispensable: Is there a rule on how to keep the ‘e’s and ‘i’s and the ‘a’s apart?

Judgment: My brain wants to put an ‘e’ after the ‘g’.

Occurrence: I always forget the double ‘r’.

Perseverance: Again – the ‘e’ vs ‘a’ issue.

Separate: I don’t think I’ve spelled this word right on the first try in my life.

If you can remember what words hang you up over and over again, you can teach yourself what to look for. A little bell always goes off in my brain when I want to use these words and I look at them extra carefully. Heck, I even looked up the word spell check for this blog post! (You can also spell it spell-check if you prefer.)

With the ease of spell check on practically everything these days—from word processing software to Facebook—there’s no excuse not to use it…especially if you want to come across as a professional.

 


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Melanie Brooks has written for newspapers, magazines, blogs, and websites from Maine to New Jersey. She currently works as an editor for Bangor Metro and Maine Ahead magazines.

Discussion

  1. Melissa on the 16th November

    There’s a rat in separate…and that’s how I remember that one, and I realize that doesn’t make any sense, but it sticks in my brain!

  2. Jennifer on the 16th November

    My 9th grade English teacher taught me something I’ll always remember: “There is a rat in separate.”

  3. Josh Arguello on the 16th November

    When I was really young, one of the hardest words I remember was together… someone once told me just spell “to get her” and you’ll never spell it wrong again… They were right, but at age 34 I still can’t spell that work without sounding-out (in my head) “to get her” lol

  4. Lizzie Smithson on the 16th November

    These are definitely words I never spell right if hand-written. I have to type…backspace…re-type every time. Great list!

  5. Laneth Sffarlenn on the 16th November

    This is also where a good proofreader comes in handy, if the articles and things aren’t time sensitive *wink*

  6. wirehunt on the 16th November

    So do you want to also start covering the differences between US English and English English??

    • Mike Vardy on the 16th November

      As a Canadian, this is one of my favorite favourite pet peeves. Problem is, I have hard time knowing when it’s something I can be “peeved” about.

  7. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 16th November

    This was a much needed post. Thank you for writing it. :-)

  8. Chris on the 16th November

    So is “curtesy” (courtesy) in the image attribution spelled incorrectly on purpose? :)

    • Mike Vardy on the 16th November

      I’d like to say that was the case, but…

      It’s been corrected – and keeps with the context of the article. Thanks!

  9. Ksenia Coffman on the 16th November

    You are forgetting ‘loose’ vs ‘lose’ – drives me nuts. Even saw it on a *resume.*

    • Kevin Kuzia on the 17th November

      Oh that’s the one that makes me crazy. I had to stop going to certain fitness forums because I simply couldn’t take one more person seeking to “loose fat”.

  10. Paul Tyler on the 17th November

    My real trouble is definitely “definitely”!! I even had to look it up again this time!

  11. webster on the 17th November

    Spellcheck only does half the job. Lots of people use the wrong homonym, like their/there, pin/pen, principle/principal, accept/except, affect/effect, just to name several.

  12. L1 on the 17th November

    Actually Judgement has a different spelling in the UK (Judgement) and Judgment (US). It’s the same as Colour (UK) and Color (US) and Centre (UK) and Center (US).

  13. John Braine on the 17th November

    I pasted this script, http://www.autohotkey.com/download/AutoCorrect.ahk, into the bottom of my (always on) Authotkey script.

    It auto-corrects a huge list of frequently misspelled words no matter where I’m typing. It’s the perfect solution.

  14. Matt on the 17th November

    Melissa, good call!

    L1, right on brother.

  15. Shaun on the 17th November

    @John Braine,

    Great tip! It really sh#ts me having to go back over words I have miss-spelt all the time, but I can’t help it when I see that little red line! It throws off my writing mojo, but it must be my inner OCD or something because I can’t help it.

    Great post!

  16. Anand on the 17th November

    For me the most difficult word is “occasion”. Is it ocassion or occasion..I still type it ocassion and then wait for my browser to underline it with that red squiggle so I could change it to the correct one.

    I remember my teacher telling us the difference between quite and quiet. If you are “quiet”, you wouldn’t have an e protruding out.

    The error that bugs me the most is “your” for “you’re”. Half the planet writes “your” when they mean to say “you’re”

  17. Jesse on the 18th November

    might sound retarded, but i was spelling maybe as “mabye” up until college…

  18. Tania on the 19th November

    And there is no ‘cuss’ in focussing or focussed, this one is so regularly misspelt that even the spell checkers now let it through! Focused and focusing please…. would have thought that would have beaten many on the list.

  19. Breanna on the 21st January

    For fun, I asked my boyfriend to spell these words aloud. He buggered every single one and he’s a brilliant speller. Goes to show how tricky these everyday words can be to accommodate for us plain folks 😉 The one that shocked me is judgment. It looks odd without the ‘e’ and I’ve never being corrected to spell it without. Thanks for the tips, much appreciated!

  20. James on the 18th February

    John McWhorter, a Stanford linguist, observes that language changes like a lava lamp. It changes constantly. No pattern being “right” or “wrong,” just constantly changing. Not from “Correct and traditional” to “new and incorrect,” but just in natural flux at all times. Worrying about little things like spelling things “wrong” ignores this ever-changing aspect of language. That is because when you write language down, it is an attempt to “freeze” it. But even though Shakespeare is written down a language known as “English,” it does not sound natural. Why? It sounded natural, and was spelled correctly, when it was written (frozen). Yet things change. Sounds change. Spellings change. Old ones leave, new ones evolve.

    It’s just a different perspective on the importance of “correct” spelling.

  21. Atira Gram on the 27th February

    I always misspell receive because of ‘believe’ and ‘friends’ but good thing i work in a cellphone company and I have practiced it very well!

  22. kathy on the 20th December

    I’m so happy that I found this man, Dr.gboco. I had some bad things going on, my man left and I was working, but I had a reading and Dr. gboco told me to quit the job and that there is some unexpected shady dealing’s there. I’m glad I listened to him, because a few weeks later, my colleagues at my job got into some legal mess and I am not part of it since I quit my job. I got a Come To Me Spell and days later my man returned and we’ve been talking and got back happily together 7 days after that. I believe so much in Dr.gboco and i will advise anyone at there to contact him through gbocotemple@yahoo.com if you need solution to your problems. Kathy

  23. Nova on the 4th June

    I always misspells “environment” as “enviornment”

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