Most Common Misspelled Words by Annette Lyon

November 13, 2012 · 2 comments

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YourDictionary.com put together a list of the 100 most misspelled words. (Check it: MISSPELLED is one of them. hah!) They even have explanations to help you remember the correct spellings.

Find the full list HERE.

A few of my favorites:

acceptable
For some reason, I tend to spell the ending with the other, similar-sounding suffix: ible. Since it made the list, I must not be alone.

a lot
Okay, technically not A word. It’s two words. But therein lies the problem: people commonly spell it as alot. There is no such word. Unless you mean allot, “to assign as a share or portion” (see Merriam-Webster).

calendar
I know it doesn’t sound like it, but this word ends in AR, not ER. A, people. A.

conscience/conscious
A commonly confused word pair in addition to both words being commonly misspelled. Conscience is that cricket on your shoulder telling you what is right and wrong. Conscious means you’re awake or aware of something.

definitely
Major peeve of mine when the I in this word is replaced with an A. I don’t know why it’s so common–it’s not like we pronounce it with an A sound, even: defin-AT-ely? Um, no.

existence
Commonly misspelled with the middle E replaced by an A: existance. See above.

fiery
Since fire has the E at the end, it’s easy to think the adjective version would too. It’s easy to think wrong.

gauge
I first learned about gauges when I read a book about knitting around 11 or 12 years old. Since no one was saying the word out loud to me, I assumed it was pronounced sort of French: GAH-zh. When I realize it rhymes with cage, I felt silly. But at least it’s a commonly misspelled word I have down.

it’s/its
WITH an apostrophe, you’re making a contraction, like don’t (do not) or can’t (can not). The contraction here means it is. If you’re referring to possession, then you use the plain pronoun, its. Remember: you wouldn’t add an apostrophe to his, right? Same word form.

jewelry
We forget that jewelry comes from the word jewel, so we have to spell that word out first before we get to the suffix.

judgment
Don’t be tempted to slip in an E to complete the word judge. Same goes with acknowledgment.

kernel
I made this misspelling myself when I first got to know my favorite gourmet popcorn store, Colorado (and Utah) Kernels. Like many others do, I spelled it with an A: kernals, and they gently corrected me. I’ve never made the mistake since.

memento
NOT spelled with an O: momento. Nope. Think of it this way: a memento is something you remember an event by. It sparks a MEMory. MEMento.

mischievous
Sometimes I get this one right on my first try, other times, no. I used to get frustrated with it, because I kept wanting to add the extra syllable we often say the word with (mish-chee-vee-ous) even though it’s really a three-syllable word (MISH-che-vuhs).

privilege
I once spent about fifteen minutes coming up with ways to spell this that the spell checker could at least identify and take a stab at. Took me forever to get it down.

pronunciation
Another case of thinking of the root word and letting that impact the spelling. We pronounce things, but we do so with without the OU sound in this word.

there/their/they’re
HAD to end with this one, since it’s the title of my grammar book. (Hey, it was on their list!)

What are some of you favorite misspelled words?

Annette Lyon  is a Whitney Award winner, the recipient of Utah’s Best of State medal for fiction, and the author of eight novels, a cookbook, and a grammar guide, plus over a hundred magazine articles. She’s a senior editor at Precision Editing Group and a cum laude graduate from BYU with a degree in English. When she’s not writing, editing, knitting, or eating chocolate, she can be found mothering and avoiding the spots on the kitchen floor. Find her online at blog.annettelyon.com and on Twitter: @AnnetteLyon.

Need a little extra grammar help? Get Annette’s grammar book, There, Their, They’re: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd.

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{ 2 comments }

Stacy Whitman November 13, 2012 at 7:55 am

Commercial. I started noticing this when proofreading phone books for a living. Often it’s misspelled as “commerical.”

Also, accommodation. Two c’s, two m’s. Usually it’s missing one of one or the other.

Gina November 13, 2012 at 8:04 am

I think so many of these happen because we are such lazy speakers. Our pronunciation is generally atrocious, and neary every vowel sounds more or less like “uh”. (For instance, we usually pronounce “memento” a lot more like “muhmento” and “definitely” like “defuhnuhtley”, thus the confusion) It’s a long-running joke in our house, and every time one of us asks how to spell something, it seems to fall into that category.

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