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Words Matter: Spelling Errors 

Words Matter: Spelling Errors 

We’ve all been there. You hit send on an email. Then something makes you take a second look and there it is — bam! — a spelling error. You immediately wish you could take the email back and fix your mistake. But it’s too late. 

How can you avoid this kind of faux pas in the future?

Spelling is an activity that uses more skills than you think. It has lots of rules and, of course, exceptions to those rules. The English language is more irregular than in other languages. Words aren’t often spelled the way they sound. Many English words must be memorized rather than sounded out.   

Both kids and adults have trouble with spelling. It’s a different task than reading, which is a recognition activity. Spelling requires you to actually produce something. You must think about the word you want to spell and write its sounds on paper. And hope those sounds actually align with the way the word is spelled.

Misspelling in marketing

Misspelling words in marketing materials is a big no-no. Incorrectly spelled words show a lack of professionalism. What’s worse, they can cause people to lose trust in your brand and products. If you’re not taking time to proofread and ensure your messages are flawless, your customers will likely assume the same carelessness is translating over into your products and services.

Become an expert speller

So what can you do? To start, you can review this list of commonly misspelled words. These words consistently trip up spellers across the world.

  • Accommodate – watch the double “c” and double “m”
  • Achieve – unless it immediately follows the letter “c,” the letter “i” usually comes before “e” (I before E except after C)
  • Apparently – this one apparently causes a lot of trouble for spellers; watch the double “p” and don’t switch an “a” with the “e” at the end
  • Argument – don’t add an “e” where it’s not needed
  • Believe – keep the “i” and “e” where they’re supposed to be; believe you can do it
  • Breathe – when you are actually breathing, it’s “breathe”; when you’re just taking a breath, leave off the “e”
  • Calendar – seems like this one should be easy, but lots of folks switch the “a” at the end with an “e”
  • Ceiling – remember the rule: I before E except after C
  • Cemetery – don’t add an “a” at the end; the only vowel in this word is “e”
  • Chief – again, keep the “i” before “e”
  • Criticize – there’s no “s” in criticize
  • Definite – Be careful not to add the letter “e” in the middle where it doesn’t belong
  • Embarrass – watch the double “r” and “s” or you’ll be embarrassed when you misspell this word
  • Environment – perfect example of a word that isn’t pronounced like it’s spelled
  • Gist – yep, it starts with a “g” not a “j”
  • Guarantee – another word that isn’t spelled like it sounds
  • Happiness – only double “p” and “s”; resist the urge to double the “n”
  • Idiosyncrasy – there’s no tricks to spell this one right; easier to just memorize
  • Imitation – lots of folks want to add an extra “m” to this word 
  • Judgment – misspelling this word will cause your readers to judge you
  • Knowledge – show off your knowledge by spelling this word correctly
  • Liaison – the extra “i” in this one trips a lot of people up
  • License – don’t mix up the “c” and “s”
  • Lying vs. laying – this one is tricky; lying involves a state of being in a flat position (lying on your stomach) and laying involves an action (lay something down flat)
  • Miniature – the second “i” in the middle of this word often trips up spellers
  • Miscellaneous – watch the order of the “s” and “c” and note the double “l”
  • Neighbor – this one breaks the “i” before “e” except after “c” rule; for some words when the “ei” makes a long “a” sound, the “e” comes first (e.g., weigh, rein, beige)

gordon ramsay fox GIF by Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back

  • Noticeable – lots of people want to drop the “e” in the middle; don’t make this noticeable mistake
  • Occasion – this word has a double “c,” not a double “s”
  • Occurrence – again, watch the double “c” and also the double “r”
  • Omission – some spellers accidentally omit an “s” when spelling this word
  • Perceive – another one that breaks the “i” before “e” rule
  • Permanent – the “a” should remain permanently in the middle of this word
  • Persistent – if you’re persistent in learning how to spell this word, it will pay off in the long run
  • Prejudice – too many spellers want to add extra letters to this word; don’t follow their lead
  • Privilege – don’t add a “d” after the “g”
  • Reminisce – the last part of this word is tricky, so be careful
  • Restaurant – the “u” goes in the middle, not the end; spelling it the other way will leave a bad taste in your reader’s mouth
  • Separate – don’t separate this word from the vowels that belong to it
  • Supersede – use an “s” after the “r,” not a “c”
  • Tomorrow – don’t use a double “m,” but do use a double “r”
  • Unforeseen – the “e” in the middle of this word is often forgotten
  • Unfortunately – the “e” at the end of this word is frequently forgotten; most unfortunate 
  • Weird – the “i” before “e” rule gets broken yet again, and the definition of the word fits even more

Other ways to become a flawless speller

Here are a couple of easy ways to make sure your spelling — and grammar, for that matter — are always top-notch.

Use Grammarly  

There are paid and free versions of this app or extension for your browser. It checks your writing for spelling and grammar errors, as well as plagiarism. And it does it all in real-time. Grammarly works with many commonly used platforms, including Microsoft Word, Facebook, and others. This article can help you learn more.

Use spell check 

Spell check in Microsoft Word is a tried-and-true way to catch mistakes.

Proofread backward 

If you read sentences backward, you read each word one by one. It’s a trick pro proofreaders have used for years.  

Use “Control F” to search for trouble words 

If you know you commonly switch “your” and “you’re” or “their” and “they’re,” do a quick Control F search to double-check. 

You put a spell on me

The secret to getting better at spelling is just like any other skill: You have to practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. We hope these tips will help you on your way to becoming an expert speller.

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