After seeing some particularly careless spelling on a few blogs recently I decided it was time to help make the world a better place with a ‘25 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling’ post.
English (as we all know) can be a tricky language, but there are a few words in particular that a substantial number of people regularly have trouble with.
And if you’re routinely misspelling words then your credibility is likely to suffer, leading to reduced traffic and a low likelihood of writing job offers or opportunities.
Learn how to correctly use the following commonly misspelled words however and you can vault ahead of your spelling-challenged peers. (Tip: install the Grammarly app and it’ll find a lot of mistakes that Spell Check routinely misses.)
25 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling
This is a trio famous for being commonly misspelled. They’re homophones which means they’re pronounced the same but have different meanings.
There is an adverb meaning ‘in or at that place’. One way to remember it is by the fact it contains the word ‘here’, so ‘here or there’.
Their is a possessive pronoun, as in their house or their car.
They’re is a contraction of they are, as in “They’re in their car”.
I find the best way to remember the difference between their and they’re is to always say “they are” to yourself when writing either one. If it fits, then use they’re, if not use their.
Your is a possessive adjective (‘Your house’), and You’re is a contraction of ‘you are’. So as with ‘they’re’ above, try saying ‘you are’ to yourself to see if it’s a good fit.
Lose has several meanings, all negative: to fail to win, to have less of something, to be unable to find something, or to no longer have or keep something.
Loose can mean not firmly fixed, not fitting tightly, not strict or exact, or not tied up or shut in. Just to confuse things, loose can also be used as a verb, as in “he opened the stable door and loosed the horses.”
A good way to remember the difference is to think that “lose has lost an ‘o'”.
Separate can be a verb: ‘to sort, part, divide or disperse’ or an adjective: ‘detached, disconnected, or disjoined.’ For many more definitions of separate see this page.
Often misspelled the way it sounds, as ‘seperate’. However there’s no such word. One way to remember the spelling is to remember “there’s a rat in separate.”
A compliment is praise and complement adds to or completes something.
I’d say I see complement misspelled as ‘compliment’ about 90% of the time, so break away from the crowd and remember this one correctly.
I find the best way to remember them is to just sound out the ‘lim’ or ‘lem’ sound to myself when writing either one.
Stationery is office supplies and stationary is not moving.
I’ve seen a couple of different memory tricks to remember the difference, but I always just think of an ‘airy station’ where nothing’s moving.
Desert is arid land or to abandon something, and dessert is a sweet treat after a meal.
Just remember that ‘dessert’ has an extra ‘s’ since we always want more dessert.
Principal means main or most important, and principle is a fundamental basis of a system of thought or belief.
If your school had a principal, just remember that you are/were one of the good kids (you were weren’t you?) and he or she was your ‘pal’.
These two, of course, are abbreviations and not words, but they’re incorrectly used so often I just had to include them.
E.g. stands for the Latin exempli gratia, meaning “for example.” I.e. stands for the Latin id est, roughly meaning “that is.”
A good trick for remembering ‘e.g.’ is to pronounce ‘example’ as ‘eg-sample’.
To remember ‘i.e.’ imagine that it means “in essence” (or “in other words.”)
These three are commonly misspelled, especially by non-native English speakers.
To is a preposition before a noun or an infinitive before a verb.
Too is a synonym for also, or indicates excessiveness before a verb.
Two simply spells the number 2.
A good trick I’ve found is that if you can say t‘ as in “I’m going t’ the shop” and it sounds right then ‘to‘ is correct. If you say “I ate t’ much food” that obviously sounds wrong, so too must be the correct spelling.
For two just think of it’s similarity to other written numbers such as twelve and twenty.
Rain is condensation of moisture that falls from the clouds whenever you’ve planned a nice day out in the country.
Rein refers to the straps you hold as part of a horse bridle.
Reign means to rule as a sovereign, or the period of rule
You can think of the rhyme ‘Rain rain go away, come again another day!’ to remember that rain is spelled with an a.
I see rein/reign most commonly confused in the phrase “free rein” (often misspelled as “free reign”.) Just think of giving a trusty horse ‘free rein’ to go as it pleases as opposed to ‘tight rein’.
To remember rein think of the bridle on a reindeer, and for reign think of a “great reign.”
Hear means to perceive sound or listen, and here means in, at, or towards this position.
Just remember that ear is in hear and you’ll have no problem! “You hear with your ear.”
Commonly misspelled as ‘definately’. Possibly the easiest way to remember this one is just to pronounce it slowly and accurately (and remember there’s no ‘a’ in definitely.)
Since ‘who’s’ is a contraction of ‘who is’, just think ‘who is’ each time you encounter either of these. If it sounds right in the sentence then you’ll use who’s, else whose (same idea as with their/they’re.)
Don’t get embarrassed by spelling this one wrong. A mnemonic I’ve seen is: “When embarrassed I get 2 Red cheeks because I’m 2 Shy Shy.”
No more embarrassing accidents–just use the first letters: Dash in a real rush hurry else accident.
People often omit a ‘c’ or ‘m’ from accommodation. It’s probably best to just sound it out – if you left out the first ‘c’ the first syllable would sound like ‘Ake’, and if you left out an ‘m’ the second syllable would sound like ‘como’ as in Perry Como.
“Can I buy a vowel? And what’s with the two h’s?”
Most often misspelled as ‘rythm’. Here’s a good mnemonic for you: “Rhythm helps your two hips move”.
Weather is that thing that hits you in the face when you go outside, and whether is a choice between two alternatives.
One trick I’ve heard to remember ‘weather’ is that if you take the ‘r’ and put it in the middle you’ll see the word ‘earth’ in there.
(Yeh it doesn’t work for me either – fortunately I memorized the spelling a long time ago.)
A premiere is a first public performance, while premier is either first in status or a prime minister. Since ‘premiere’ is pronounced premmy-air, think of it as a performance going out on the air.
‘Its‘ is a word indicating possession, and ‘It’s‘ is a contraction of ‘it is‘ (or ‘it has’.)
Just consider whether you can replace it’s with it is or it has, and if so use it’s, otherwise use its.
A very commonly misspelled word – usually leaving out the second ‘i’. A mnemonic you can try: Son of Li and Ai acts as a liaison between them after their divorce.’
Not surprising that ‘restaurant’ is often misspelled, considering most people say something like ‘restrant’. Try sounding it out slowly as you type. I think of ‘Taurus’ (my star sign) when spelling it.
Another tough one – leaving out the ‘c’ or an ‘l’ are typical errors. Try to break it up as mis-cell-an-e-ous.
Words with double letters such as disappoint tend to confuse a lot of people.
Remember that the prefix dis– is only ever spelled with one ‘s’ and means ‘not’ or ‘without’.
Overall with words such as this memorization and familiarity work much better than memory tricks, so reading a lot is my best advice to anyone wanting to become a better speller.
Do you have any good words to add to this list of 25 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling? Let me know in the comments.
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