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14.8: Commonly Misused and Misspelled Words

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    225959
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    WHAT ARE SOME COMMONLY MISUSED AND MISSPELLED WORDS?

    As English teachers who read a lot of essays, we see some words that are regularly used incorrectly, and we see some words that are commonly misspelled. Here are lists to help you avoid these errors.

    COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS

    accept and except - Accept means to receive while except means to exclude.

    affect and effect - Affect is usually a verb meaning to influence. Effect is usually a noun meaning result. Effect can also be a verb meaning to bring about.

    a lot and allot. A lot means many; allot means to distribute something.

    cite, sight and site. A sight is something seen; a site is a place. To cite is to quote or list as a source.

    it's and its. It's is a contraction that replaces it is. Its is the possessive determiner corresponding to it, meaning "belonging to it."

    lose and loose. Lose can mean "fail to win," "misplace," or "cease to be in possession." Loose can mean the opposite of tight, or the opposite of tighten.

    of and have. In some dialects of spoken English, of and the contracted form of have, 've, sound alike. However, in standard written English, they are not interchangeable. Could of, would of, should of is non-standard English. Instead use could have, would have, should have.

    past and passed. Past refers to events that have previously occurred while passed is the past tense of "to pass.”

    than, then - Than is used for comparisons; then means it came next.

    there, their, they're - There refers to the location of something. Their means "belonging to them." They're is a contraction of "they are."

    to, two, too - Two is a number, too means also, to is used with verbs (going to) or as a preposition.

    weather, whether - Weather is what the meteorologist always predicts wrong; whether is used when making a choice.

    who's, whose - Whose is possessive; who's is short for who is.

    who, which, that: Do not use which to refer to persons. Use who instead. That, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to a group or class of people.

    your, you're - Your is something that belongs to you; you're is a contraction for you are.

    COMMONLY MISSPELLED WORDS

    a lot - Two words! We know this is listed under misused words as well but it is misspelled a lot!

    accommodate - This word is large enough to accommodate both a double "c" AND a double "m."

    argument - Let's not argue about the loss of this verb's silent [e] before the suffix -ment.

    committed - If you are committed to correct spelling, you will remember that this word doubles its final [t] from "commit" to "committed."

    conscience - Don't let misspelling this word weigh on your conscience.

    conscientious - Work on your spelling conscientiously.

    conscious - Try to be conscious of all the vowels after the “sc” in this word's ending.

    definite (ly) - This word definitely gets confused as having an “a” in the middle but there are e’s on the ends and i’s in the middle.

    grammar – If you’re pointing out errors in grammar, then be sure not to end this word in “er.”

    independent - Please be independent but not in your spelling of this word. It ends in -ent.

    indispensable - Knowing that this word ends on -able is indispensable to good writing.

    mischievous - This mischievous word holds two traps: [i] before [e] and [o] before [u]. Four of the five vowels in English reside here.

    misspell - What is more embarrassing than to misspell the name of the problem? Just remember that it is mis + spell and that will dispel your worry about spelling "misspell."

    noticeable - The [e] is noticeably retained in this word to indicate the [c] is "soft," pronounced like [s]. Without the [e], it would be pronounced "hard," like [k], as in "applicable."

    occasionally - Writers occasionally tire of doubling so many consonants and omit one but this word has 2 c’s in the front and 2 l’s in the back.

    occurrence - Remember not only the occurrence of double double consonants in this word, but that the suffix is -ence, not -ance. No reason, just the English language keeping us on our toes.

    perseverance - All it takes is perseverance and you, too, can be a (near-) perfect speller. The suffix is -ance for no reason at all.

    playwright - Since they write plays, they should be "play-writes," right? Wrong. Remember that a play writer in Old English was called a "play worker" and "wright" is from an old form of "work" (wrought iron, etc.)

    weird - This word is an exception to the rule about [i] before [e] except after...? So, rules can be broken!


    This page titled 14.8: Commonly Misused and Misspelled Words is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

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