Commonly misspelled English words

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Commonly misspelled English words[1] (UK: misspelt words) are words that are often unintentionally misspelled in general writing. A selected list of common words is presented below, under Documented list of common misspellings. Although the word "common" is subjective depending on the situation, the focus is on general writing, rather than in a specific field. Official spellings also vary by country or region, with some rejecting the American or British variants as incorrect for the region.[1][2][3]

Within a particular field of study, such as computer graphics, other words might be more common for misspelling, such as "pixel" misspelled as "pixle" (or variants "cesium" and "caesium"). Sometimes words are purposely misspelled, as a form in slang, abbreviations, or in song lyrics, etc.

In general writing, some words are frequently misspelled, such as the incorrect spelling "concensus"[4] for "consensus" [5] found in numerous webpages on the Internet.[4] Other common misspellings include "equiptment" (for "equipment"),[4][6] "independant" (for "independent"),[4][7] "readible" (for readable),[3][8] or "usible" (for usable/useable).[3][4][9][10][11][12]

Unlimited misspellings[edit]

Because many words can be extended with prefixes (such as "un-" or "anti-" or "re-") or suffixes (such as "-ly" or "-ing" or "-ness"), a comprehensive list of words prone to misspelling would contain thousands of variations from combining prefixes or suffixes (or both) added to the root words. To limit the scope to common words, the top 350 words are considered (according to various sources).

Documented list of common misspellings[edit]

The following list, of about 350 words, is based on documented lists[4][10] of the top 100, 200, or 400[3] most commonly misspelled words,[clarification needed] rather than listing every conceivable misspelled word. Each word is followed by examples of misspellings:

A–B[edit]

  • absence – absense, absance[3][10]
  • acceptable – acceptible [4]
  • accidentally/accidently – accidentaly [4]
  • accommodate – accomodate, acommodate[3][4]
  • achieve – acheive[3]
  • acknowledge – acknowlege, aknowledge[3]
  • acquaintance – acquaintence, aquaintance[3]
  • acquire – aquire, adquire [4]
  • acquit – aquit [4]
  • acreage – acrage, acerage[3]
  • address – adress[3]
  • adultery – adultary[3]
  • advisable – adviseable, advizable[3]
  • affect – effect[3]
  • aggression – agression, aggresion[1]
  • alcohol – alchohol[1]
  • allege – alege, allage[1]
  • allegiance – allegaince, allegience, alegiance[3]
  • almost – allmost[3]
  • a lot – alot (must be two words)[4]
  • amateur – amatuer, amature [4]
  • amend – ammend[1]
  • annually – anually, annualy[3]
  • apparent – apparant, aparent [4]
  • arctic – artic[3]
  • argument – arguement[1][4]
  • atheist – athiest[3][4]
  • average – avrage, averege[1]
  • awful – awfull, aweful[3]
  • because – becuase[3]
  • becoming – becomeing[3]
  • beginning – begining[3]
  • believe – beleive [4]
  • bellwether – bellweather[3][4]
  • buoy/buoyant – bouy/bouyant[3]
  • burglar – burgler[1]
  • business – bisness,[1] bussiness,
    bizness, buisness

C–D[edit]

  • calendar – calender[3][4]
  • camouflage – camoflage, camoflague[3]
  • capitol – capital[3](both words exist, but are distinct)
  • Caribbean – Carribean[3]
  • category – catagory[3][4]
  • caught – cauhgt, caugt[3]
  • cemetery – cemetary,[1] cematery[3]
  • changeable – changable[3][4]
  • chief – cheif[3]
  • colleague – collaegue, collegue[3]
  • collectible – collectable[3][4]
  • column – colum [4]
  • coming – comming[3]
  • committed – commited, comitted[3][4]
  • concede – conceed[3]
  • congratulate – congradulate[3]
  • conscientious – consciencious [3][4]
  • conscious – concious, consious [4]
  • consensus – concensus[1][3][4]
  • controversy – contraversy[1]
  • coolly – cooly[3]
  • daiquiri – dacquiri, daquiri [4]
  • deceive – decieve[1][3]
  • definite – definate,[1] definit[4]
  • definitely – definitly,[4] definately, defiantly
  • desperate – desparate[1][3]
  • difference – diffrence[3]
  • dilemma – dilema[3]
  • disappoint – disapoint[1]
  • disastrous – disasterous[3]
  • drunkenness – drunkeness [4]
  • dumbbell – dumbell [4]

E–H[edit]

  • embarrass – embarass[1][4]
  • equipment – equiptment (wrong in numerous webpages)[4]
  • exceed – excede [4]
  • exhilarate – exilerate [4]
  • existence – existance [4]
  • experience – experiance [4]
  • extreme – extreem[1]
  • fascinating – facinating[1]
  • fiery – firey [4]
  • fluorescent – flourescent[1]
  • foreign – foriegn [4]
  • friend – freind[1]
  • fulfil – fullfil (American: fulfill)[1]
  • gauge – guage[1][4]
  • grateful – gratefull, greatful[1][4]
  • guarantee – garantee, garentee, garanty[1][4][10]
  • guidance – guidence [11]
  • harass – harrass[1][4]
  • height – heighth, heigth [4]
  • hierarchy – heirarchy [4]
  • hors d'oeuvres – hors derves, ordeurves[3]
  • humorous – humerous [4]
  • hygiene – hygene, hygine, hiygeine, higeine, hygeine[3]
  • hypocrisy/hypocrite – hipocrit[1][3]

I–K[edit]

  • ignorance – ignorence[4]
  • imitate – immitate[3]
  • immediately – imediately[1][4]
  • independent – independant[4][7]
  • indispensable – indispensible[4]
  • inoculate – innoculate[4]
  • intelligence – inteligence, intelligance[4]
  • jewelry (UK: jewellery) – jewelery[4]
  • judgment – judgement (issue in the U.S.)[4]
  • kernel – kernal, distinct from homophone colonel[4]

L–O[edit]

  • leisure – liesure [4]
  • liaison – liason[1][4]
  • library – libary, liberry [4]
  • license – lisence[4] (US always license, UK noun licence)[1]
  • lightning – lightening [4]
  • lose – loose [13]
  • maintenance – maintainance, maintnance[1]
  • medieval – medeval, medevil, mideval [4]
  • memento – momento [4]
  • millennium – millenium, milennium[1][4]
  • miniature – miniture[1][4]
  • minuscule – miniscule[1][4]
  • mischievous – mischievious, mischevous, mischevious (The spelling "mischievious" and the corresponding pronunciation are still considered non-standard despite being current and existing since at least the 16th century.)[4][14]
  • misspell – mispell, misspel[1][4]
  • necessary – neccessary, necessery[1]
  • niece – neice[1]
  • neighbor – nieghbor [4]
  • noticeable – noticable [4]
  • occasion – occassion[1]
  • occasionally – occasionaly, occassionally [4]
  • occurrence – occurrance, occurence [4]
  • occurred – occured[1]
  • omission – ommision, omision[1]
  • original – orignal[1]
  • outrageous – outragous[1]

P–Q[edit]

  • parliament – parliment[1]
  • pastime – passtime, pasttime [4]
  • perceive – percieve[1]
  • perseverance – perseverence [4]
  • personnel – personell, personel[4]
  • plagiarize – plagerize[3]
  • playwright – playright, playwrite[4]
  • possession – posession, possesion[1][4]
  • potatoes – potatos[1]
  • precede – preceed [4]
  • presence – presance[1]
  • principle – principal [4]
  • privilege – privelege, priviledge[1][4]
  • professor – professer[3]
  • promise – promiss [11]
  • pronunciation – pronounciation [4]
  • proof – prufe [12]
  • prophecy (as noun) – prophesy (valid as verb)[3]
  • publicly – publically[4]
  • quarantine – quarentine[3]
  • queue – que (from Bar-B-Que)[3]
  • questionnaire – questionaire, questionnair[1]

R–S[edit]

  • readable – readible [8]
  • really – realy[1]
  • receive – recieve[1][4]
  • receipt – reciept [4]
  • recommend – recomend, reccommend[1][4]
  • referred – refered [4]
  • reference – referance, refrence [4]
  • relevant – relevent, revelant[3][4]
  • religious – religous, religius[12]
  • repetition – repitition[12]
  • restaurant – restarant, restaraunt [4]
  • rhyme – rime, ryme [4]
  • rhythm – rythm, rythem[1][4]
  • secretary – secratary, secretery[1]
  • seize – sieze[1]
  • separate – seperate[1][4]
  • sergeant – sargent [4]
  • similar – similer[1]
  • skilful – skilfull (American: skillful)[1]
  • speech – speach, speeche (archaic)[12]
  • successful – succesful, successfull, sucessful[1]
  • supersede – supercede [4]
  • surprise – suprise, surprize[1]

T–Z[edit]

  • their – there, they're [4]
  • tomatoes – tomatos[1]
  • tomorrow – tommorrow[1]
  • twelfth – twelth [4]
  • tyranny – tyrany [4]
  • underrate – underate[4]
  • until – untill [4]
  • upholstery – upholstry[4]
  • usable/useable – usible [9]
  • vacuum – vaccuum, vacume [4]
  • vegetarian – vegatarian[1]
  • vehicle – vehical[1]
  • vicious – visious[1]
  • weather – wether [4]
  • weird – wierd[1][4]
  • welfare – wellfare, welfair[3]
  • whether – wether[3]
  • wilful – wilfull (American: willful)[1]
  • withhold – withold[1]
  • writing – writting, writeing [12]

Common causes of those misspellings[edit]

Mispronunciation[edit]

Mispronunciation is known to be one of the most common causes of misspelling.[15] Hence, phonetic misspelling is common, once a word is mispronounced; for example, the word "realize" is misspelled as "relize".

Typing errors[edit]

Some spelling errors are introduced because people's typing is not perfect, such as

  • letters are doubled, or more frequently double letters tripled, such as "betwween" and "betweeen"
  • letters are singled, such as "betwen"
  • keys are transposed, so "because" becomes "becuase". (see Teh)

Some of the errors listed may be due to mistyping rather than ignorance, for example "solider" for "soldier".

These misspellings rarely happen in handwritten text.

Homophones[edit]

Two (or more) differently spelt words with different meanings may be homophones, with the same pronunciation; e.g., right, rite, wright, and write; read (most tenses of verb) and reed; read (past, past participle) and red. This list includes only a few homophones although incorrect use of homophones is a very common error; the following words from the list are all good English words, though often incorrectly used in place of their homophones: advice, affect, artic (colloquial UK usage for "articulated lorry"), aweful, breath, calender, capital, dose, its, lightening, loose, loosing, planing, principal, rime, solider, stoping, they're, wether and you're. Spelling checkers do not detect incorrect use of homophones.

Personal names[edit]

Personal names and surnames may be pronounced like a standard English word, but with different spelling: "balance" and "John Ballance"; "war" and "Evelyn Waugh"; "marshal" and "George Marshall". Personal names do of course generally start with a capital letter.

Foreign writers[edit]

A misspelling in English might be made by someone used to a different spelling in another language; for example, "address" is translated "adresse" in French and German. Many Spanish words are similar or identical to English words, but with an "n" inserted, or replacing an "m", leading to errors: "inmigrant" from "inmigrante", "cementery" from "cementerio", "confortable". The English word 'loose' reasonably looks like it should be pronounced as 'lose' to Germans, as in German the lone 's' often has the sound of an English 'z', and a lone 'o' in English very seldom has the 'oo' sound.

Apostrophes[edit]

There can be confusion over a plural possessive form. If the singular is "book's title" and the plural "books' titles", the latter can appear as "book's", or even "books's". The plural can be written with an erroneous apostrophe ("grocer's apostrophe" in Britain): "apple's and pear's". Elision can lead to misspelling: "doesn't", where the apostrophe represents the elided "o", can be misspelled "does'nt".

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq "AskOxford: Commonly Misspelled Words", Oxford University Press, 2009, webpage: Ask-spell.
  2. ^ "Canadian, British and American Spelling", LukeMastin.com, December 2008, webpage: LM-spelling.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh "Canadian, British and American Spelling – Some Commonly Misspelled Words", LukeMastin.com, December 2008, webpage: LM-misspelled.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy "100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English", LoveToKnow, Corp., December 2008, webpage: YDict.
  5. ^ "Merriam-Webster Online" (results for misspelling as "concensus"), Merriam-Webster, 2008, webpage: MW-concensus.
  6. ^ "Merriam-Webster Online" (results for misspelling as "equiptment"), Merriam-Webster, December 2008, webpage: MW-equiptment.
  7. ^ a b "Merriam-Webster Online" (results for misspelling as "independant"), Merriam-Webster, December 2008, webpage: MW-independant.
  8. ^ a b "Merriam-Webster Online" (results for misspelling as "readible"), Merriam-Webster, December 2008, webpage: MW-readible.
  9. ^ a b "Merriam-Webster Online" (results for misspelling as "usible"), Merriam-Webster, December 2008, webpage: MW-usible.
  10. ^ a b c d "200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words (Part 1)", Richard Nordquist (see below: References).
  11. ^ a b c "200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words (Part 2)", Richard Nordquist (see below: References).
  12. ^ a b c d e f "200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words (Part 3)", Richard Nordquist (see below: References).
  13. ^ http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/difficulties/looselose.html
  14. ^ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mischievous
  15. ^ "How to Prepare for the Canadian GED High School Equivalency Exam", Murray Rockowitz, Dale Shuttleworth, et al., 2002, ISBN 0-7641-1789-0, p.177, Google Books webpage: GoogleB-9LU.

References[edit]

  • "100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English", LoveToKnow, Corp., December 2008, webpage: YDict.
  • "Canadian, British and American Spelling", LukeMastin.com, December 2008, webpage: LM-spelling.
  • "Canadian, British and American Spelling: Some Commonly Misspelled Words", LukeMastin.com, December 2008, webpage: LM-misspelled.
  • "Merriam-Webster Online" (results for misspelling as "concensus"), Merriam-Webster, 2008, webpage: MW-concensus.
  • "200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words (Part 1)", Richard Nordquist, About.com, December 2008, webpage: Aboutcom-misspelled-A.
  • "200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words (Part 2)", Richard Nordquist, About.com, December 2008, webpage: Aboutcom-misspelled-B.
  • "200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words (Part 3)", Richard Nordquist, About.com, December 2008, webpage: Aboutcom-misspelled-C.

External links[edit]

  • "100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English", LoveToKnow, Corp., December 2008, webpage: YDict-100.