34 Common English Spelling Errors to Avoid in Your Writing

To avoid making common English spelling errors, check out this list of some of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

One of the best ways to show that you are knowledgeable in your writing is with proper spelling. While today’s writers have a number of spell and grammar checking tools, you still need to write at times when you don’t have that help.

To avoid making common English spelling errors, check out this list of some of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

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Common English Spelling Mistakes

1. Correct: Accommodate

Incorrect: Acommodate, Acomodate, Accomodate

The Oxford English Corpus indicates that this verb, which means to provide space for, is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. It requires two “c’s” and two “m’s.”

2. Correct: Acquaintance

Incorrect: Acquaintence, aquaintance

If you know something only slightly, you have an acquaintance. Forgetting the “c” and changing the last “a” to an “e” are common misspellings of this word.

3. Correct: Acquire

Incorrect: Aquire, adquire

This verb which means to take possession of or to receive something, throws people off because of the “c.” The correct spelling requires the “c.” 

4. Correct: A lot

Incorrect: Alot, allot

A lot is another of the spelling rules commonly broken. It is two words. It means many of something.

5. Correct: Awful

Incorrect: Awfull, aweful

It is awful how many English writers can’t get the correct spelling of this word. It does not have an “e,” even though it sounds like the word “awe.” It also only requires one “l” at the end.

6. Correct: Business

Incorrect: Buisness

This word gets mixed up with busyness, which is why some people try to spell it incorrectly as buisness. The correct English spelling is business.

7. Correct: Camouflage

Incorrect: Camoflage, camoflague

Many people find that the “u” hiding in the word camouflage makes it hard to spell. Some people leave it off altogether, and others stick it at the end of the word, but both are incorrect.

8. Correct: Caribbean

Incorrect: Carribean

Before you jump on your next cruise, make sure you know where you’re going. If the tropics are calling your name, you’re likely going to the Caribbean, not the carribean. This word requires two “b’s” and not two “r’s” to properly spell.

9. Correct: Cemetery

Incorrect: Cemetary, cematery

The e and a conundrum strikes again with this common misspelling. When planning a haunted house, you’ll want to build a cemetery, with all “e’s.”

10. Correct: Colleague

Incorrect: Collaegue, collegue

Your coworkers are colleagues, not collaegues or collegues. This one is tricky, but if you can remember how to spell league, you can remember colleague more easily. Simply stick “col” on the front of the word, and you’re ready to properly spell the word that means your friends at work.

11. Correct: Category

Incorrect: Catagory

This word is misspelled often because of how it is said. It sounds like it should be spelled catagory, but the correct spelling is category.

12. Correct: Coolly 

Incorrect: Cooly

Many adverbs end in the suffix -ly. When you need to add that to a word that already ends in “l,” it can get confusing. In the case of coolly and many similar words, you keep the original “l” and add the suffix, giving you a double consonant.

13. Correct: Definite

Incorrect: Definate, definit

To remember this one, consider the word “finite.” Adding the prefix “de” to it gives you definite. This makes sense, because a definite answer is the final answer.

The adverb form of this word, definitely, is also commonly misspelled. Definately is an incorrect spelling. Defiantly is a correct spelling of a completely different word meaning “in a way that defies.”

14. Correct: Difference

Incorrect: Diffrence

This is yet another word in the English language that is commonly misspelled because of the way it is said. Many people do not pronounce the “er” syllable in this world. Thus, when they go to spell it, they leave out the “e.”

15. Correct: Disastrous

Incorrect: Disasterous

Disastrous is an adjective that means something with catastrophic consequences. It often is referred to after an actual disaster. This is why people mistakenly spell the word disasterous.

16. Correct: Dumbbell

Incorrect: Dumbell

Dumbbell is a compound word made by combining “dumb” and “bell.” As such, it requires two “b’s.” Spelling it with just one is incorrect.

17. Correct: Exhilarate

Incorrect: Exilerate 

This is yet another English word that falls victim to the way it is spoken by English speakers verses spelled. Exilerate is a misspelling, but it looks phonetically correct based on the way many dialects pronounce the world Exhilarate is the correct spelling, however.

18. Correct: Fluorescent

Incorrect: Flourescent

Very few words in the English language are spelled with an “uo” in them. Most people expect to see the “o” first in the “or” sound, such as in fluorescent. However, the true spelling is with a “u” first.

19. Correct: Humorous

Incorrect: Humerous

This is yet another word that is misspelled because of the way it’s pronounced. However, the root word is “humor,” so the adjective retains the “or” spelling.

20. Correct: Imitate

Incorrect: Immitate

This word doesn’t require a double “m,” which is a common spelling error. There’s no good memory trick for this one, so it’s one you’re just going to have to learn.

21.Correct: Judgment

Incorrect: Judgement

This is rarely a problem in British English, but many American English writers like to stick an “e” in the middle of judgment. This is due to its root in the word “judge.” However, adding the -ment suffix means the silent “e” gets dropped.

22. Correct: Liaison

Incorrect: Liason 

Many common misspellings stem from words that originated in another language, like liaison, which was originally a French word. While liason may be phonetically correct in English, it is not the correct spelling.

23. Correct: Marshmallow

Incorrect: Marshmellow

Marshmallows are definitely a sweet treat, but they are not sweet to try to spell. The word “mellow” is not in the word at all, but because it sounds like it is, the spelling with the “e” pops up frequently.

24. Correct: Medieval

Incorrect: Mideval, midevil, medeval, medevil

This word is one of the hardest because it sounds like “mid” and “evil” put together, but neither of those words are in the word.

25. Correct: Misspell

Incorrect: Mispell, misspel

This is another word with tricky double letters, and it’s pretty ironic that it ended up on the list of spelling errors. Adding the prefix mis- to the word spell requires a double “s.” You also retain the double “l” from the original word.

26. Correct: Occasion

Incorrect: Occassion

Here the double letters trip people up again. This word has a double “c” but not a double “s.”

27. Correct: Pastime

Incorrect: Passtime, pasttime

This one gets spelled incorrectly because it sounds like it’s a compound word, but it is not. Therefore, it doesn’t have a double “s” or “t.”

28. Correct: Personnel

Incorrect: Personell, personel

If you’re adding people to your hiring list, you add “personnel” with a double “n.”

29. Correct: Queue

Incorrect: Que, Qeue

Queue has a tricky spelling because of all of the vowels, but it is in fact spelled with two “ue” combinations back-to-back.

30. Correct: Receipt

Incorrect: Reciept

Remembering the rule “I before E except after C” will help you remember how to spell receipt. Since the “ei” comes after the “c,” it is spelled with the “e” first.

31. Correct: Repetition

Incorrect: Repitition 

If you can think of the word “repeat,” which has an “e” in the middle, you can easily remember how to spell repetition, which also has an “e” in the middle.

32. Correct: Sergeant

Incorrect: Sargent

Sargent is how most people say the word, but sergeant is the correct spelling.

33. Correct: Tomorrow

Incorrect: Tommorrow, Tommorow

The double “r” in this word, which means the day after today, throws many writers off. The correct spelling is with two “r’s” and just one “m.”

34. Correct: Vacuum

Incorrect: Vaccuum, vaccum, vacume

Vacuum has a strange double vowel in the middle, and this tricks some writers into thinking that it also has a double “c.”

Spelling errors will trip up even the best writers, but it’s always a good idea to keep them straight as often as you can. Like with grammar mistakes, Study up on this list of common English spelling errors, and start applying the correct spellings to your written communication. Using good spellchecker software can help too.

BEST SPELLCHECKER SOFTWARE
  • Easy to use thanks to a great user interface
  • Features a powerful online spell checker
  • Great writing insights
TRY GRAMMARLY →
GINGER
  • Free version of Ginger is relatively powerful
  • Useful for non-English native speakers
  • Personal dictionary a nice addition
TRY GINGER →
WHITESMOKE
  • Accurate
  • Relatively easy to use
  • Suitable for businesses
TRY WHITESMOKE →
  • Relatively accurate
  • Lots of nice features for self-editing
  • Suitable for fiction writers and Scrivener fans
TRY PROWRITINGAID →

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