Commonly Misspelled English Words
Some English words can spell trouble, especially for non-native speakers. While most English words are spelled according to set rules, others aren’t. Then, there are those words that are just confusing to begin with. Take the word ‘Mississippi’, one of the most popular misspelled English words, for example. A lot of people has fallen victim to this devilish word. Even Americans fall prey. Common misspellings of the word would involve a missing letter from the trio of double letters, namely, ‘ss’, ‘ss’, and ‘pp’. If you ever need to spell this word for any reason, try this trick: ‘M – I – double S – I – double S – I – double P – I’. Voila! Just learn the tricks and you would never “misspell English words” again, or, for as long as you can remember this helpful trick.
In addition, here is a list that presents some commonly misspelled English words.
Think you’re a master speller? Try and see if you can correctly spell all of the following words.
All Right or Alright?
First on this list of commonly misspelled English words is ‘all right’ and ‘alright.’ Some people would argue that both are correct, with one simply being the contraction or shortened form of the other. However, only one is considered acceptable when it comes to the English language. So which is it? The correct spelling is all right.
All right (adj.) – satisfactory, agreeable
Go to sleep now, everything will be all right in the morning.
The Brits say ‘aloo-mi-ni-yum’, and they spell it as they sound it. Although aluminium is the standard spelling in the UK, everywhere else considers it a dated spelling of the word. The correct and acceptable spelling of this English word is aluminum.
Aluminum (n.) – a type of metal that is strong and light and is used for making many products
The roof is made of aluminum.
Bureau or Beaureau?
Next on our list of commonly misspelled English words is ‘bureau’ and ‘beaureau.’ This is another word that most non-native English speakers find particularly confusing to spell, although the ‘byoo’ sounds close to the ‘byoo’ in beautiful, the correct spelling of this word is bureau.
Bureau (n.) – (1) a specialized administrative unit; (2) a writing desk
We reported the thief to the crime bureau.
Coliseum or Colosseum?
Another commonly misspelled English word is ‘coliseum’ and ‘colosseum.’ One of these two refers to a large stadium, while the other refers to a wonder of the world. Have you guessed which is which? The Colosseum of Rome is an enduring icon of bravery and grandeur. Built over a thousand years ago, it was the place to watch special events like gladiatorial battles, and public executions. A coliseum, on the other hand, is a huge performance and concert space designed to house an audience of, more or less, fifty-thousand.
Use Colosseum to refer to the coliseum in Rome.
Use coliseum to refer to others.
Coliseum (n.) – a large sports stadium designed like the Colosseum for public entertainment
Most sporting events are often played in coliseums.
Cemetery or Cematery?
A common cause for confusion over the spelling of this word, especially for non-native speakers, is in its pronunciation. Some people pronounce it as ‘se-ma-tery’ while others pronounce it as ‘se-me-tery.’ It doesn’t help that a popular novel by Stephen King called Pet Sematary actually exists. So, which is correct and acceptable? The correct pronunciation is ‘se-me-tery’ and the correct spelling is cemetery.
Cemetery (n.) – a burial ground
We visit grandma in the cemetery every year.
Dilemma or Dilemna?
This is another word that is often misspelled due to confusion. But before we go into specifics, what do you think is correct between ‘dilemma’ and ‘dilemna’? Shockingly, a good number of people might say that ‘dilemna’ is correct. And in a way, they are not wrong. That is, it’s not their fault that they are wrong. A lot of people were actually taught that the correct spelling is ‘dilemna’, even while they were in school. Only to find out when they were older that the correct spelling is actually ‘dilemma.’ Where you surprised? Don’t be. You are not alone in the confusion.
Dilemma (n.) – a problem involving a difficult choice
Choosing between Harvard and Princeton is becoming a dilemma.
Embarrass or Embarass?
Another word on our list of commonly misspelled English words is ‘embarrass’ and ‘embarass.’ Which is correct? The correct spelling is embarrass.
Embarrass (v.) – to cause to experience a state of self-conscious distress
Stories about my childhood always embarrass me.
Febuary or February?
Next on our list of commonly misspelled English words is ‘February’ and ‘Febuary.’ This is another mistake that stems from the word’s pronunciation. The proper pronunciation is ‘Feb-yu-wery’ with a silent ‘r.’ It’s no wonder some people misspell this. So, with that in mind, you now know that the correct spelling is February.
February (n.) – the second month of the Gregorian calendar
My birthday is on February.
Handkerchief or Hankerchief?
This is another word that is pronounced differently from how it is spelled. The correct pronunciation of this word is ‘han-ker-chief.’ In this case, the ‘d’ is silent. The correct spelling is handkerchief.
Handkerchief (n.) – a small cloth used for wiping your face, nose, or eyes
Mother gave me a yellow handkerchief for my birthday.
Judgment or Judgement?
Next on our list of commonly misspelled English words is ‘judgment’ and ‘judgement.’ Now, this one is not actually a mistake. In fact, both are considered correct. And no, it is not a regional thing either. Whether you are in the UK or in the US and you choose to spell it with or without an ‘e’ after ‘g,’ you will still be correct. But, for the sake of standard English spelling, the most common and accepted form is judgment.
Judgement (n.) – a strong, pronounced opinion
Don’t be quick to pass judgment on people who are different from you.
Pursue or Persue?
Another one of some commonly misspelled English words is ‘pursue’ and ‘persue.’ Once again, this one stems from the pronunciation of the word. Since the word is pronounced ‘per-soo’ a lot of people, especially non-native speakers, tend to think that the proper spelling is ‘persue’ when in fact, the correct spelling is pursue.
Pursue (v.) – to find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish
Jason decided not to pursue the case against Michael.
Rhythmn or Rhythm?
Known for being one of the few words to not contain any vowels, ‘rhythmn’ and ‘rhythm’ are among the many problems of writers and editors alike. Before we move forward, which between the two is correct? If you picked the first spelling, then you are wrong. The correct spelling is rhythm.
Rhythm (n.) – a regular, repeated pattern of sounds or movement
The drummer’s off beat threw the whole band off rhythm.
Superscede or Supersede?
Again, it’s easy to see what causes the confusion in this word. But before we continue, can you tell which of the two is correct? If you picked ‘supersede,’ then you are correct. Although the ‘sede’ sounds a lot like ‘scene’ it is still spelled without a ‘c.’ So, the correct spelling is supersede.
Supersede (v.) – to take the place or position of
Younger actors superseded the older actors.
Theater or Theatre?
Another of the English words that cause confusion is ‘theater’ and ‘theatre.’ Both words are correct, but some people argue that they don’t mean the same. According to some Americans, ‘theater’ refers to the performance space, while ‘theatre’ refers to the art form. But the truth is, ‘theater’ is the American spelling, while ‘theatre’ is the British spelling. So, as a learner of the English language, which should you use? Although both forms are correct, it is recommended that you use theater.
Theater (n.) – a building or are for dramatic performances
Are you coming with us to the theater?
Wierd or Weird?
People might argue that the correct spelling of this word is ‘wierd’ because of the “I before E” spelling rule. However, this is one of the exceptions to that rule. The correct spelling is weird.
Weird (n.) – of strange or extraordinary character
I always thought that Jack was a weird person because he likes melted ice-cream.
The English language is dynamic and ever growing. Some words that are popular now, may run out of fashion in the future and be replaced with newer words. But for now, this is the standard that all English speakers—learners and native speakers alike—must adhere to. The list of commonly misspelled English words contain many more Do you know of others? Please do share it with us in the comments.
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