- Just for fun
- Language hints and tips
If you've ever had the feeling a word doesn’t look right after you've typed it, you are not alone. The most commonly misspelled words from this list pose challenges for more people than you think. English native speaker or not, hard-to-spell words are determined to give you a headache. And if bad spelling does happen, it’s usually in very important contexts like a vital application letter or during a conversation with your crush – which can really change the tone and potentially cause confusion or embarrassment.
English has drawn inspiration from many different languages, so it’s perfectly normal to get confused because of its double consonants and silent letters. We all know that moment when you stare at a word for ages and still can’t believe it has two sets of double letters. There are many such examples. In fact, “misspelled” is one of them and people often misspell it.
Here are some of the most commonly misspelled words in English (both British and American, where necessary), along with their common misspellings.
1. Accommodate not accomodate
Also commonly misspelled as: acommodate
Let’s start strong with a typical example of double consonants – two sets of them.
2. Acquire not aquire
Think of this rhyme whenever you encounter the word: 'I c that you want to acquire that wire'.
3. Awkward not akward
It also describes how we feel when we realize we’ve just misspelled a word.
4. Believe not belive
Remember the rhyme ‘I before E, except after C’. The same rule applies to 'believe', so use this mnemonic when in doubt. There are some exceptions to the rule, so be careful.
5. Bizarre not bizzare
It’s bizarre that there is only one Z but that’s the way It is.
6. Colleague not collegue
Also commonly misspelled as: collaegue, coleague
It’s hard to get this one right! Make a funny association like 'the big league of the double Ls', you may just win the misspelling match.
7. Embarrassed not embarassed
Also commonly misspelled as: embarrased
If you remember this one, you’ll reduce the chances of finding yourself in an embarrassing bad spelling situation.
8. Entrepreneur not enterpreneur
Also commonly misspelled as: entrepeneur, entreprenur, entreperneur
It’s not only hard to spell, but also hard to pronounce. The origins? It’s a French word coming from the root entreprendre (‘undertake’).
9. Environment not enviroment
The N is silent, so it’s quite easy to misspell this one too. Luckily, it’s similar to 'government' whose verb is 'to govern' which ends in N. A very long, but good association.
10. Definitely not definately
Also commonly misspelled as: deffinately, deffinitely, definitley
You’ll definitely get this one right if you remember it’s not a case of double letters. Neither does it feature any As.
11. Liaison not liasion
There’s a reason why you’re never sure how to spell 'liaison', 'bureaucracy', 'manoeuvre', 'questionnaire' and 'connoisseur'. They do not follow the same patterns because they are all French words.
12. License not lisence
In American English, it’s always spelled 'license' – no matter what. On the other hand, in British English, it’s spelled 'license' when it’s a verb and 'licence' when it’s a noun. Once you decide which spelling you’ll use – American or British – it’s best to go forward with that and stick to it.
13. Publicly not publically
Words ending in 'ic' receive the 'ally' suffix when transformed into adverbs (e.g., organically). But 'public' makes an exception so it’s understandable if you misspell it.
14. Receive not recieve
Remember the 'I before E, except after C' rule? This is the kind of word where the rule applies. It also applies to 'niece' and 'siege', but it doesn’t apply to 'weird' or 'seize'. So remember the rule but keep in mind it has some exceptions.
15. Responsibility not responsability
People often get tricked by this word’s pronunciation. And if you think about it, it does really sound like it has an A in the middle. Safe to say – it doesn’t. So keep an eye out.
16. Rhythm not rythm
This is another borrowed word; in this instance it comes from the Greek word ‘Rhuthmos’ which mean a reoccurring motion.
17. Separate not seperate
'Separate' is apparently one of the most misspelled words on Google and it’s understandable why. The same as with 'responsibility', its pronunciation can trick you into thinking there’s an E there.
18. Strength not strenght
Even spelling pros will sometimes have to think twice about this one. Our mind is probably used to seeing the H after the G because of words like 'through'. Not this time though (wink wink).
Don’t forget that the same goes for 'length' (and not 'lenght').
19. Successful not successfull
Also commonly misspelled as: succesful, sucessful
There are so many double consonants in English, that it can become tempting to double them all at times. But for the love of English, don’t do that to 'successful'.
20. Succinct not succint
Some people would say two Cs are enough. This is why the word 'succinct' gets misspelled so frequently. The third S is indeed very soft, but don’t let pronunciation deceive you.
21. Thorough not thurough
You may have heard of this tongue twister: “English can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.” It’s hard not to get confused with so many similar-looking words. You add an O to 'through' and its pronunciation changes completely.
22. Until not untill
In fact, 'until' was spelled with two Ls in the Middle Ages. If it helps you remember, you can think it just lost some weight but getting rid of the last L (unlike 'still').
23. Whether not wether
Not as confusing as the 'through' and 'thorough' example, but still pretty challenging.
24. Which or witch not wich
Do you know which one is which?
Advice to avoid misspellings
One obvious answer would be spell-checkers, but the truth is that spell-checkers won’t actually help you to improve your spelling. You will continue to misspell words and they’ll continue to correct them. This process is passive and won’t stimulate you to learn the correct spelling because somebody else already does the job for you.
The best advice? Practice, practice and practice!
If you keep attempting to spell challenging words and checking them it will begin to sink in and become second nature over time. Using tools like dictionaries and language learning apps such as Mondly can help you practice and learn spelling. If you persevere and practice you can avoid any spelling mishaps.