How to Avoid the Ten Most Misspelled Words in the English Language

Some of you will be wondering isn’t “misspelled” misspelt, which makes this a bit of an interesting post. Actually, both are correct!

British English uses “misspelt” (the original) whereas American English uses “misspelled” (changed over time). That’s why we have put together the ‘Ten Most Misspelled Words in the English Language’ for the sneakiest spelling traps!

A language is made of twists and turns, and more often than not, it manages to fool us with grammatical and spelling rules. Tough when we are trying to learn English! These linguistic regulations have their own club, and however confusing they may be, they cannot be changed, we can only accept, learn and remember if we want to join the club.

Check out below the top ten most common spelling mistakes people make when speaking or writing in English. Some of these will be obvious to you, others may be surprising, but the bottom line is we need to know these mischievous words.

1: The famous they’re / there / their

These three words have different spellings, different meanings, and are used in different contexts but they all sound the same! Arrgh….this is Mission Impossible! Hint: Remember the context in which each word is used:

  • They’re is short for they are
  • There is to describe a location, like here
  • Their describes possession for a group of people, similar to his, her, our.

This type of mistake is also made with the words you’re and your. Remember, you’re is short for you are and your is belonging to you.

2: i before e, except after c rule

Except, except, except… This rule only applies for words with the sound ‘ee’, such as achieve, believe, piece, thief, chief, priest and yield. However, if the sound comes after the letter c, e is usually placed before i. This is applied on the following words: ceiling, deceive, perceive, receive, receipt. However, the English language has a mind of its own, and this rule includes many “weird” exceptions: caffeine, codeine, foreign, forfeit, leisure, neither, seize, … And to make the rules even more confusing, certain words have ie after c… to name a few, ancient, conscience, efficient, sufficientHint: Use the rule as a general guide in most cases and learn the exceptions!

3: The e before suffix rule

One of the simplest rules, as it has very few exceptions. Phew! The rule goes as follows:

  • Remove the final e before a suffix that begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u): ride -> riding; hope -> hoping; guide -> guidance;
  • Keep the final e before a suffix starting with a consonant: care -> careful; use -> useless; peace -> peaceful
  • Keep the final e before a suffix, when the root word ends in ‘ee’ or ‘ye’: agree -> agreeing; guarantee -> guaranteeing; eye -> eyeing
  • If the root word ends in ‘ge’ or ‘ce’, and the suffix is either ‘able’ or ‘ous, the letter e is kept: notice -> noticeable; outrage -> outrageous;
  • Keep the e if the suffix is ‘-ment’ advertise -> advertisement; involve -> involvement; replace -> replacement

4: Effect / Affect rule

Easy rule to learn!

  • Effect is a noun meaning ‘a result’: ‘The rain had no effect on the show’.
  • Affect is a verb meaning ‘to influence on’: ‘The rain didn’t affect the show’.

5: The suffixes – ant / -ent rule

They are frequently mistaken because they both sound the same. This is a tricky one as there is no rule! Just remember:

  • If the suffix can be –ment, then the end of the word is spelt –ent: management, agreement, placement, etc
  • For the rest, you must rely on your memory! The most common mistake with this rule is with the word independent. It has e, not a!

6: Definitely the right spelling

On the same lines as the previous rule, the letter a often sneaks in the word definitely. Remember it’s definitely, not definately.

7: Separating out the great spellers

Another all time favorite word for people to get wrong! It’s separate, and not seperate! A great way to remember is: Separate is just “2 eas -y” i.e. 2 x e and 2 x a

8: Double Trouble – the double consonant rule

In words such as accommodate, embarrassment and misspell:

  • accommodate: remember, 2 C’s and 2 M’s. The world is big enough to accommodate two C’s and two M’s!
  • embarrassment: remember, 2 R’s and 2 M’s. Avoid the embarrassment, and don’t forget to put two R’s and two M’s!
  • misspell: how embarrassing to misspell the word describing the problem? Remember to cut the word in half: it’s mis + spell. Easy!

9: January, February..

Yes, this word is a trap. Some people know that the word contains the letters R and a U somewhere, but are unsure of their positions; and others don’t know at all.

  • So, to make it clear for everybody, straight after ‘Feb’, stick an R and a U, and finish off the word as planned.
  • It’s F-e-b-ru-a-r-y. Not Febuary, not Febrary and definitely not Febryuary!

10: Not a lot left – last rule coming up

There are a lot of people that make this mistake, and write it as one word.

  • It’s not alot, it’s a lot. They are two separate words, so remember to put a space.
  • If you think about it, the same rule applies to a little, a bunch and a chicken wing!

Now you know how to avoid the 10 most common spelling mistakes that are made often while speaking or writing in the English language.

So there you have it! Ten BIG mistakes that many people make every day, including native English speakers, so we are not alone! Unfortunately, they also make a BIG impression. So keep a watchful eye, think twice and always check the dictionary; it’s a small detail that makes a big difference!

Can you think of any other words in English that people often get it wrong? Let us know in the comments below:

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