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Commonly Misspelled Words in English Language

English is a strange language – some words are spelled as they are sound, some derive their spellings from an origin and some are, simply, exceptions to every rule! Commonly misspelled words are often referred to as interchanging or leaving letters out of a certain word, in writing. As it is known, misspellings are commonly associated with area and region. The best example is the British and American way of writing English where both are different, yet allowed, as per the dictionary. Although it is impossible to count the number of words given in the Oxford English Dictionary, there are believed to be 171,476 words in current use and 47,156 obsolete words. In addition, there are 9,500 derivative terms, making it a grand total of at least a quarter of a million words. It must be kept in mind that variations in spelling may differ in a particular field of study and sometimes, may be purposely misspelled as in song lyrics, abbreviations, slang etc. So, it is physically impossible to keep track of all Latin words, medical terminology, inflections along with German words in academic writing and Japanese words in martial arts and so on! There are bound to be some alterations in the spelling of any of the above. To avoid common errors, look through the section below.

Most Misspelled Words

Causes of Misspelling

  • Mispronounced Words – One of the most common causes for misspelling is the misuse of phonetic sounds. For instance, jewellery (British) is commonly pronounced as ‘joolry’. The same way, realize can be twisted to sound like ‘relize’. Environment pronounced as ‘envirement’ is another common mistake. Words derived from other languages such as French, as in the case of rendezvous, can also cause confusion.
  • Homophones – Differently spelled words with same pronunciation but different meanings are called homophones. Take as an example, ‘read’. This word can be used as all tenses of the verb, ‘to read’. Its homophones are reed (a plant) and red (the colour). Other errors can come in the following words: loose (lose), right (rite), weather (whether), principal (principle), rime (rhyme) etc.
  • Proper Nouns – Most proper nouns are spelled differently from the actual word itself. John Ballance (balance), Evelyn Waugh (war) and George Marshall (marshal) etc. Here, it is important to note that no particular spelling is right or wrong as names can vary indefinitely. English language allows multiple pronunciations for proper nouns.
  • Concatenation – Up to (upto), in fact (infact), all right (alright), in case (incase), a while (awhile), a lot (alot) and all be it (albeit) are all examples of words that can be misspelled. Concatenation is a computer program that joins two characters end-to-end. Some of the above mentioned words have been included in the dictionary, while the others haven’t as yet.
  • Apostrophes – Words using apostrophes can drastically change the meaning of the text itself. Take for example: ‘its’ and ‘it’s’. Both these words signify two completely different meaning; while the latter is an abbreviated version of ‘it is’, the former indicates possession and ownership. Mistakes are also made in the singular and plural possessive forms such as books titles and book’s titles. Doesn’t (or does not) can be misspelled and written as does’nt.
  • British vs. American – The biggest debate of the English language lies in the British vs. American spellings. Although, most English-speaking countries follow British English, even the American way of spelling is accepted in some parts. It can be seen that the Americans almost always spell according to the phonetic sound that the word produces. There are numerous examples of these, starting from American color and British colour to others like program (programme), center (centre), practice (practise), analyze (analyse), fetus (foetus) and so on.

Other Common Examples

Incorrect Spelling Correct Spelling
Priviledge Privilege
Usualy Usually
Existance Existence
Carribean Caribbean
Alchohol Alcohol
Potatos Potatoes
Refered Referred
They’re Their
Untill Until
Vehical Vehicle
Independant Independent
Wellfare Welfare
Absense Absence
You’re Your
Recieve Receive
Guarentee Guarantee
Rasberry Amateur
Embarrasment Embarrassment
Firy Fiery
Lisence License
Vaccum Vacuum
Wierd Weird
Vegatarian Vegetarian
Underate Underrate
Twelth Twelfth
Commitee Committee
Que Queue
Scisors Scissors
Labouratory Laboratory
Guidence Guidance
Ocassion Occasion
Heros Heroes
Vigilent Vigilant
Dumbell Dumbbell
Goverment Government
Truely Truly
Artic Arctic
Concensus Consensus
Harrass Harass
Procede Proceed
Mischevious Mischievous
Discribe Judgment
Occurence Occurrence
Exausted Exhausted
Accomodate Accommodate
Drunkeness Drunkenness
Brocolli Broccoli
Grammer Grammar
Innoculate Inoculate
Manuver Maneuver
Possesion Possession
Noticable Noticeable
Maintainence Maintenance
Cooly Coolly
Aquire Acquire
Equiped Equipped

Believe it or not, commonly mispelled… oops, misspelled words have become increasingly infamous owing to the use of ‘autocorrect’ and ‘auto spell-checks’ on smart-phones and computer software. It is important to understand that the use of English, an already difficult language, would become even more confusing for generations to come. Hope the errors mentioned in the article above has been helpful to you!

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