Sunday, 13 September 2015

Most common spelling mistakes in English?

The top (or bottom!) most frequently misspelled words - and why they may cause problems. 

Download printable version in English FAQ Teaching Pack  (£1.99)

  • Separate  - the ‘a’ becomes an ‘e’
  • Definitely - many sound out ‘definately’ when they mean definitely
  • Manoeuvre - French
  • Embarrass - double trouble
  • Occurrence - double trouble, ‘c’ or ‘s’
  • Consensus - ‘c’ or ‘s’
  • Unnecessary - ‘c’ or ‘s’
  • Acceptable - double trouble, ‘c’ or ‘s’
  • Broccoli - double trouble
  • Referred - double trouble
  • Bureaucracy - French, weird letter combination
  • Supersede - ‘c’ or ‘s’
  • Questionnaire double Trouble, French
  • Connoisseur  - double trouble, French
  • Alot - transcription error
  • Entrepreneur  - French & unfamiliar
  • Particularly - transcription
  • Liquefy - odd sounds and letters
  • Conscience-  ‘c’ or ‘s’
  • Parallel - double trouble

  •  What makes these words so difficult to spell? 


    One source of difficulty is inconsistent pronunciation - see (1, 2) Another is word-merging in transcription: (many) young people write could have as could of or a lot (14) as alot.


    With bureaucracy (11) manoeuvre (3) the spelling pattern is French. A basic knowledge of French was once assumed but most now would recognise entrepreneur (16) from business rather than the language from which it originates. The same applies to those other providers of hidden spelling rules: Latin and Greek.

    C or S?

    An understandable uncertainty as to when ‘C’ rather than ‘S’ applies lies behind consensus (6) supersede (12) conscience (19) & unnecessary (7). There’s a similar confusion over the ‘CK’ sound in liquefy (18), plus an ‘E’ in place of the usual ‘I’.

    An entertaining alternative list is provided by

    1.wich - whichwitch. It doesn’t matter which witch you think you can see, as long as there’s an h or a t
    2.advertizing - advertising: You shouldn’t advertise the fact that you use z where there’s supposed to be an s.
    3.maffia - mafia. It wouldn’t be wise to double cross the mafia by using two f’s.
    4.adress - address. A double d is what we need to see. Think of “please add your address” as a reminder!
    5.particulary - particularly. It’s not particularly convincing when you leave out the last l.
    6.belive - believe. You must believe that i usually comes before e, except after c.
    7.awsome - awesome. If you’re in awe of this word, don’t forget the e!
    8.wether - whetherweather. Whether you have problems with the weather or not, you can’t leave out a letter.
    9.seperate - separate. If you separate the word right in the middle you have one e and one a on either side.
    10.dogy - dodgy. There’s no dog in dodgy.

    English FAQ Teaching Pack  only £1.99

    Further Reading

    Quick Solutions to Common Errors in English: A-z Guide
    Printable Goole Docs version of this post

    1 comment:

    1. Great collection, very useful for the learners :)


    Powered By Blogger · Designed By ESOL Extras