Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WNW: Most Common Misspelled Words

First, a housekeeping item: The redundancy contest winner!

Random.org picked Dan's last entry: sheer mesh.

(Dan, please leave me your contact info so I can get you your prize!)

And now for some Word Nerd Wednesday fun:

YourDictionary.com put together a list of the 100 most misspelled words. (Check it: MISSPELLED is one of them. hah!) They even have explanations to help you remember the correct spellings.

Find the full list HERE.

A few of my favorites:

acceptable
For some reason, I tend to spell the ending with the other, similar-sounding suffix: ible. Since it made the list, I must not be alone.

a lot
Okay, technically not A word. It's two words. But therein lies the problem: people commonly spell it as alot. There is no such word. Unless you mean allot, "to assign as a share or portion" (see Merriam-Webster).

calendar
I know it doesn't sound like it, but this word ends in AR, not ER. A, people. A.

conscience/conscious
A commonly confused word pair in addition to both words being commonly misspelled. Conscience is that cricket on your shoulder telling you what is right and wrong. Conscious means you're awake or aware of something.

definitely
Major peeve of mine when the I in this word is replaced with an A. I don't know why it's so common--it's not like we pronounce it with an A sound, even: defin-AT-ely? Um, no.

existence
Commonly misspelled with the middle E replaced by an A: existance. See above.

fiery
Since fire has the E at the end, it's easy to think the adjective version would too. It's easy to think wrong.

gauge
I first learned about gauges when I read a book about knitting around 11 or 12 years old. Since no one was saying the word out loud to me, I assumed it was pronounced sort of French: GAH-zh. When I realize it rhymes with cage, I felt silly. But at least it's a commonly misspelled word I have down.

it's/its
WITH an apostrophe, you're making a contraction, like don't (do not) or can't (can not). The contraction here means it is. If you're referring to possession, then you use the plain pronoun, its. Remember: you wouldn't add an apostrophe to his, right? Same word form.

jewelry
We forget that jewelry comes from the word jewel, so we have to spell that word out first before we get to the suffix.

judgment
Don't be tempted to slip in an E to complete the word judge. Same goes with acknowledgment.

kernel
I made this misspelling myself when I first got to know my favorite gourmet popcorn store, Colorado (and Utah) Kernels. Like many others do, I spelled it with an A: kernals, and they gently corrected me. I've never made the mistake since.

memento
NOT spelled with an O: momento. Nope. Think of it this way: a memento is something you remember an event by. It sparks a MEMory. MEMento.

mischievous
Sometimes I get this one right on my first try, other times, no. I used to get frustrated with it, because I kept wanting to add the extra syllable we often say the word with (mish-chee-vee-ous) even though it's really a three-syllable word (MISH-che-vuhs).

privilege
I once spent about fifteen minutes coming up with ways to spell this that the spell checker could at least identify and take a stab at. Took me forever to get it down.

pronunciation
Another case of thinking of the root word and letting that impact the spelling. We pronounce things, but we do so with without the OU sound in this word.

there/their/they're
HAD to end with this one, since it's the title of my grammar book. (Hey, it was on their list!)


21 comments:

Just SO said...

I remember my HS English teacher getting all over us for using a lot wrong. She got really mad one day about a lot being two words. Lesson learned. This is a great list.

Sue said...

I wish people were more picky about their spelling. I think all the e-mailing and texting is making kids so casual about it that they don't even care. The rule of thumb seems to be that if the reader can figure a word out, it's all good.

"/

Alison Wonderland said...

To me these are not all the same thing. There's a difference (IMHO) between misspelling and bad grammar. Mischievous, kernel, etc... misspellings. It's /its , they're/their/there mistakes, bad grammar.

I have pretty good grammar (checking furiously to make sure I didn't make mistakes int his comment) but I can't spell worth a darn.

Basically, the question comes down to whether your spell checker will catch you. I love my spell checker (and I love firefox for including a spellchecker). I count on myself for the rest.

Kristina P. said...

I have a really hard time with commitment. I still have no idea if I how many m's and how many t's.

LisAway said...

What's interesting is that some of the mix-ups I make are not the way you explained. For example, I try to spell existence exhistence. It seems to want an "h" to me. Um, and that's actually really all, I guess. Some of these are not a problem for me, but I still stick an "e" in judgment almost all the time. Ugh. And like Just SO said, I remember my ninth grade teacher pounding "a lot" into our heads. I just always thought of it as like a parking lot full of whatever when I had a hard time remembering.

T.J. said...

I love that my favorite (its/it's) is on here. I know I screw up every once in a while, but I know can explain the difference and why without a problem.

Happy Mom said...

I've always been a decent speller, but definitely always gets me!

Fun list!

Wonder Woman said...

I have misspelled "definitely" so many times. I think it's because I say (type) it so much. I was at least a year into blogging before I realized my mistake. I hate spelling errors and felt so stupid!!!!!!!

Steph said...

Do you find that many of your misspelled words are simple typo errors because you are typing so fast? I find that many of mine are. I really like that Firefox has a built in spell check. Is that cheating?

Anyway, I have a question for you. Could you walk us through the process that one of your books goes through from acceptance to publication? I am very interested in how many edits you go through, how long it takes after it heads off to the printers, etc.

Thanks
-Steph

Jillybean said...

This is the exact reason why I love spell check.

Lara said...

Necessary is my big one. I can never remember which letter is doubled. Thank goodness for spell check, which is the only reason I spelled it correctly right now.

And speaking of spell check...the other day I was writing something by hand and I wasn't sure how to spell something and the thought actually came through my mind that the spell checker would catch it. Crazy techno world we live in!

Debbie / Cranberry Fries said...

My dad always told me how great I was at so many things but he also always told me I couldn't spell. Haha! I found a handful on the list like definitely, judgment and calendar. I know better know though.

Lesa @ music notes said...

Guest list! Thanks for sharing.

The one that drives me crazy is your/you're.

Rebecca said...

I'm guilty of having used 'firey' instead of 'fiery'. It's a word I rarely see, let alone use!

I try to stick an extra 'e' in 'judgment' and 'acknowledgment' nearly all the time.

Amanda D said...

I almost alway spell definitely incorrectly. And apparently, I misprounounce it too. :) Because when I say it, I hear an AT.

Great post! I think I spell the majority of them correctly most of the time.

Debbie / Cranberry Fries said...

Annette I need your help! My husband and I were discussing the other day the correct usage of Book of Mormon in plural form. Could you help me? I think I'm right, he thinks he's right and I'm pretty sure you'll know the answer (because I think I heard it from you in writing class). Thanks girl!

L.T. Elliot said...

Privilege is one that I get stuck on. I keep thinking there's a D in there. =P

Love the list! (P.S. Your Writing on the Wall post rocked today!)

Krista said...

Ooh, privilege and memento.
Ha! I just misspelled privilege again! Aak! There I go again. Thank goodness for the red wavy spellcheck lines.

Helena said...

Just yesterday I was listening to an audiobook narrated by James Marsters, and he said "mischievous" wrong. (He also doesn't know how to pronounce "chitinous.")

Melanie Jacobson said...

I always see "defiantly" instead of definitely. It makes for some entertaining sentences.

DeNae said...

Thank you for 'judgment' and 'memento'. Those mistakes give me apoplexy, every time I read them.

As for "its" and "it's" - when I see that in blogs written by people who I know are actual WRITERS, I shake my head in sorrow. For the most part, I can forgive the casualness of blogland, but for some reason I just can't seem to bounce back when I bump into this one.

I know. I need to increase my medication.

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