There are many different versions of the ‘Most misspelt words in english’. Usually it’s lists of the ’Top 10’ or ‘Top 100’ - always in multiples of ten, for what can only be reasons of convenience or neatness. I mean, I’ve never seen the top 49, 99 or even the 33 most misspelt words, have you?
I’ve never been sure how they manage to count them all and therefore compile these ‘league tables’ with any accuracy. And how does someone have that much time on their hands to complete such a task?
That said I thought I’d make my own list of eleven - just to be different or perverse, however you choose to look at it. These are the ones that I personally see most often in everyday writing – in emails, blogs, Facebook posts, letters and other correspondence from a variety of sources, both formal and informal. Inevitably with spellings, some are linked to knowledge of grammar – but I’ll try not to confuse things too much.
They become the most misspelt words because, presumably, a significant proportion of the population have never secured their learning around the correct spelling and continue in blissful ignorance; until someone is brave enough to tell them.
That’ll be me then.
Come on – be honest. Have a look down this list and think (honestly now) about whether you are totally secure in spelling all of these correctly. (correct version in brackets)
- Definately (definitely) – The ‘a’ comes from the way most people pronounce the word. If you remember the word ‘finite’ in the middle then that can help.
- Accomodate (accommodate) – I would love hotel and guest house owners to stop wasting their money on signs that are wrong. Double the ‘c’ and the ‘m’ - like a double bed that your guests want.
- Stationery /stationary- not so much misspelling as used in the wrong sentences – confusion with spelling leads to confusion in meaning. Again – I think about those poor newsagents standing in front of their lovely neon signs that tell us there is nothing moving. (I’m sure they move about a lot behind their counters really). Stationery is pens, paper and writing stuff – stationary means something is standing still.
- Seperate (separate) – this confusion happens because of the link to the pronounciation. The middle vowel isn’t stressed - we usually say ‘seprate’- so it isn’t clear what the middle vowel should be. One way is to remember that there are two ‘e’s and two ‘a’s in separate - the e’s are on either side of the word and make a sandwich of the a’s.
- Your / you’re – I did wonder whether this should be higher up the charts because it is a common one. Linked to knowledge about the use of apostrophes of course. ‘Your’ – when you are describing something that belongs to someone else ‘ Your cat, your dad, your list….’ You’re is really 2 words – you are – and shortened to you’re by taking out the ‘a’ in ‘are’ and replaced with an apostrophe to show that it’s been omitted. If you see the apostrophe, think about the full version and use accordingly.
- Calender (calendar). I can only think that this one has also arisen from the way it is spoken. Only one letter difference – easy to put right.
- Unecessary (unnecessary) – this just needs a bit of ‘jigsaw’ spelling as I call it – making words from different pieces. Start with the word necessary. Think about how we make negatives and opposites. One of the ways is to put the prefix ‘un’ at the beginning of words. E.g. unhappy, unable, undo . This is no different except the starter word happens to start with the letter ‘n’.(necessary). It still needs the ‘un’ which is what makes it have two ‘n’s in it. un + necessary = unnecessary
- alot (a lot) – You don’t write alittle or afootball so these two words don’t need joining together either.
- Begining (beginning) This is understandably a tricky one because it doesn’t follow the ‘rules’ that we understand when adding ‘ing’ to words. The double ‘n’ probably derives from the origin of the word - a middle English word beginnan – meaning to open (akin to yawn). If you remember the old word beginnan you’ll remember to put the double ‘n’.
- Their, there and they’re: these just need some effort to learn how each is used in different sentences. They might sound the same but are entirely different in meaning.
Their – belonging to them.
There – think of here and there – when you describe where something is.
They’re – omission of the letter ‘a’ – the longer version is They are - with the apostrophe replacing the ‘a’ it becomes they’re.
11. Embarass (embarrass) – double r and double s – it never looks right when you write it correctly – but trust me it’s worth remembering so you don’t become embarrassed.
Doing this has made me think: If we all take a bit of time to make sure we correct our own little spelling bad habits (because that’s what they become really) then maybe those people who compile these lists will have to start doing something more productive and useful.
Are you also willing confess to any others that are not on this list and share with others in the comment box below?
I’m off to do something more productive now.