Humanities › English The 201 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English Memory tricks can help you spell the words correctly Share Flipboard Email Print The adjective excellent already appears in our list of 201 Commonly Misspelled Words. Now you might want to add the noun excellence. Janet Fekete/Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated November 04, 2019 With a little practice, you can improve your spelling. Begin by reviewing this list of 201 of some of the most commonly misspelled words in English, including advice on how to remember the correct spelling and how to use the words in a sentence. When you're done, test your ability to spell these words with spelling review exercises and a quiz on 25 commonly misspelled words. Commonly Misspelled Words The following table includes the word in the first column, tips such as advice or mnemonic devices for remembering the correct spelling in column two, and the word used correctly in a sentence in column three. Where appropriate, some letters are intentionally uppercased while others are lowercased to make the mnemonic device more useful. Word Spelling Tip Use in a Sentence accommodate This word can accommodate a double "c" and a double "m." I would like to accommodate his wishes. achieve Remember “i” before “e” except after “c.” He achieved all his dreams. acquire I “c” that you want to acquire it. The team acquired three new players this year. across Let “Ross” row across. Let’s row the boat across the pond. address Deliver the double “d” to the right address. Make sure you have the right address before you send the package. advertise The ADVERT was revISEd. Madison Avenue knows it pays to advertise. advice I “c” that you gave me advice. Good advice is as good as gold. among A "monk" was among the worshipers. He was among the living. apparent The AP ate with his PARENT. It’s apparent that he made a mistake. argument Gumbo lost an "e" in an argument. The two politicians got into a heated argument. athlete Don’t delete the “l” in athlete. Tom Brady is one of the country’s top athletes. awful Something that is full of aw is always very bad. That food smelled awful. It must have spoiled in the fridge. balance The BAd man used a LANCE. Try to strike a balance between diet and exercise. basically It’s BASIC that I have an ALLY. He is basically dishonest. becoming BEes will be COMING to flowers near you. The boy is quickly becoming a man. before BEe went to the FORE when called upon. He’ll be going away to college before you know it. beginning Add an “n” and “ing” to begin to get beginning. In the beginning, there was the heaven and the Earth. believe Do not believe a lie. I believe in magic. benefit BENE is very FIT. The benefit raised quite a bit of money for charity. breathe Take an extra “e” when you breathe. I can’t breathe; I need some air. brilliant The BRILLo pad was gIANT. Einstein’s theory of relativity was brilliant. business The BUS IN the terminal was a mESS. It’s not personal; it’s just business. calendar Dara checked the calendar every day. Look at the calendar to see what date Thanksgiving is on this year. careful Careful not to add an extra “l” to careful. Be careful when crossing the street. category The CAT’s Ear is GORY. When you play jeopardy, pick the right category. ceiling Remember “i” before “e” except after “c.” Do you know how to install a ceiling fan? cemetery Eileen found herself at e's in the cemetery. Many horror stories take place in a cemetery. certain He’s CERebral, so don’t TAINt it. I’m certain I left my keys by the door. chief Remember “i” before “e” except after “c.” The chief of police just took over the job last month. citizen Don’t CITe It; practice ZEN. The good citizen votes in every election. coming Coming is too short to have two “m’s.” I’ll be coming home soon. competition COMe PET IT, ION. The competition at the track meet was fierce. convenience Remember "i" before “e” except after “c.” The convenience store opened at 7 a.m. criticize There’s no “s” in criticize. I don’t mean to criticize, but you did the problem wrong. decide Clide, remove the “l” and spell decide. You need to decide which man to marry. definite DEb had a FINITE spending limit. I’ll need a definite answer today. deposit DEb POSITed that we deposit the money. Don’t forgot to deposit the check at the bank. describe DEb hired a SCRIBE. Please describe the man who attacked you. desperate DES, PER your direction, rATEd it. I am desperate to find a new place to live. develop Lop off the “e” in develop. They used to develop film in a darkroom. difference We DIFFER about pENCE. What’s the difference between pink and mauve? dilemma Emma faced a dilemma. I’m in a terrible dilemma; I don’t know what to do. disappear It takes two “p’s” but only one “s” to spell disappear. The boy just disappeared. I hope he wasn’t kidnapped. disappoint You have a point; add the second “p” in disappoint. I hate to disappoint my mother. discipline The DISC Is Perfectly in LINE. He is a believer in strong discipline. does The DOE Sang. Does she want to come with us? during DU bought a RING. It happened during the night. easily The bEASt Is loveLY. My mom is so easily fooled. eight There’s an eight in height. “Eight Is Enough” was the name for a TV show. either Ed Is THERe. Either he goes, or I do. embarrass It's hard to EMBArrass Really Righteous And Serious Students. I don’t want to embarrass you, but your pants have a rip. environment A new environment will iron me out. Many people are concerned about the environment. equipped Emphatically, hE QUIPPED that he had the gear for the job. The plane is equipped with many of the modern luxuries and comforts. exaggerate Goofy Greg loved to exaggerate. Don’t exaggerate; the fish you caught was only three inches long. excellent The EXact CELL is bENT. The meal was excellent. except My EX is Certain I’m inEPT. The student completed all the problems except the last one. exercise I EXERt and I’m preCISE when I exercise. To lose weight, you need to eat nutritious foods and exercise. existence I EXIST with mike pENCE. Many have debated the existence of an all-powerful being. expect I met my EX in PE, what did you expeCT? What did you expect? experience My EX said that PER Irv we’ll invite mike pENCE. The trip was a great experience for the kids. experiment PER my EX, I MENTored him. Scientists perform many experiments to find the truth. explanation My EX had a PLAN AT the unION. I think he deserves an honest explanation. familiar That liar looks familiar. The surroundings look familiar, but I’m still lost. fascinating It's “s” before “c” in fascinating. Mr. Spock found many things to be fascinating. finally In the end, there are two “l’s” in finally. He has finally arrived; now we can eat our Thanksgiving meal. foreign FOR EIGght, the Nation said they were foreign dignitaries. He grew up in a foreign country. forty There’s no “u” in forty. The punt return specialist ran the ball back forty yards. forward FOR sam, he was a WARD of the court. Be optimistic; always look forward. friend Don’t be a fiend; insert the “r” in friend. He was a dedicated and loyal friend. fundamental Fundamental is just FUN, DAMEN, and TAL. We have fundamental differences of opinion. generally Generally, a general is your best ally. The teacher was generally correct. government The GOVERNor was deMENTed. The government might shut down if the parties don’t reach a deal. grammar GRAM didn’t want to MAR our grammar. I try, but my grammar is atrocious. guarantee The GUARd ANd the TEEn guaranteed it. The car has a 100,000-mile guarantee. guidance The GUIDe was in a trance because there’s only one “e” in guidance. The guidance counselor advised the student not to attend college. happiness Drop the “y” and replace it with an “i” to achieve happiness. Jefferson wrote that all people are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. heroes HE ROped an E for hiS heroes. World War II produced many heroes. humorous He HUMs fOR the mOUSe. The author was very humorous. His books displayed great wit. identity There is an “ID” in identity. It’s easy to have your identity stolen. imaginary IMAGINe there’s no heaven. It’s eAsy if you tRY. The little girl had an imaginary friend. imitation Don’t imitate. There’s only one “m” in imitation. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. immediately Mom ate immediately. Come here immediately. incidentally He INCIted by DENTing the car of his ALLY. Incidentally, I borrowed your car last night. independent There is a dent in independent. The young man was very independent. intelligent IN TELLIng the GENT, he showed he was intelligent. She is extremely intelligent; she scored 1,600 on her SAT. interesting The INTERn was bEST at showING he was interesting. This article is very interesting. interfere The INTERn watered the FERn, I sEe. Please do not interfere. interpretation The INTERn PRETended that stATION was near. The two had very different interpretations as to what happened. interruption Don’t interrupt: Interruption has two “r’s.” The interruption couldn’t be helped; his wife was having a baby. invitation INVITe me to offer a rATIONale. He received an invitation to the birthday party. irrelevant Don’t make the second “r” in irrelevant irrelevant. And there’s an “ant” at the end. The information he provided was irrelevant. irritable It would irritate me if you forgot the second “r” in irritable, and set the table at the end. After the operation, she was very irritable. island An island IS LAND surrounded by water. Hawaii is made up of a group of islands. jealous JEAn’s a LOUSe to be jealous. He was jealous of her former lover. judgment Unlike judge, there is no “e” after the “g” in judgment. He showed bad judgment by putting that story in the paper. knowledge I KNOW you can reach the LEDGE. How do you measure the sum of all knowledge? laboratory I had to LABOR at orATORY. The scientist labored away in her laboratory. length Make it longer by putting a “g” between the “n” and “t” in length. He ran the kickoff return the length of the football field. lesson Listen to the lesson, and spend LESS time ON studying. The teacher gave a lesson on World War II. library Take the liberty of putting two "r's" in library. You’ll find many books in the library. license To say he had LICE is nonseNSE. That’s not a license to steal. loneliness The LONE LINE did have SS at the end. Emily Dickenson suffered from great loneliness. losing I like to hear LO SINGers. Coach Vince Lombardi hated losing. lying, laying Truthfully, there’s a “y” but no “ie” in lying. I was lying on my back, while he was laying the book down. marriage He MARRied her in a carrIAGE. Their marriage is on the rocks. mathematics MATH plus E equals matheMATICS. The professor was an expert in mathematics. medicine Club MED Is at the CINEma. All medical doctors practice medicine in one form or another. miniature MINI A has no staTURE. Legoland has many miniature scenes built from the interlocking blocks. minute Minute is MINU and TE. It only takes a minute. mysterious MY STERIO is for US. She was very mysterious. naturally NATURe has an ALLY. She is naturally blond. necessary It's necessary to remember the CESSpool in the middle. Is that really necessary? neighbor The horse NEIGHed at the BORing man. My neighbor lends me his tools. neither NEll Is THERe. It's neither here nor there to me. noticeable The notice is able to help. His gray hair was very noticeable. occasion It’s an occasion to remember that occasion has two “c’s” and one “s.” Christmas is a special occasion. occurred It occurred to him that there are two “c’s” and two “r’s” in occurred. It never occurred to her to change the light bulb. official Old Frank Finklestein Is Cute In A Loving way. It's official: He's now the president. often OF mice and men there were TEN. I don't come here very often. omission Omit the second “m” but not the second “s” in omission. Forgetting the wine was an omission on my part. operate I hOPE to RATE it. The doctor decided to operate. optimism Let's hOP with TIM into the schISM. I have great optimism that better days are ahead. original ORIGamI is NAL’s favorite. His work wasn't very original. ought Ought is “bought” minus the “b.” He ought to have told you. paid PA Is Done with work. When do you get paid? parallel Two “l’s” form parallel lines in parallel. Parallel parking can be difficult. particularly PART Is in the CULt with ARLY. His error was particularly egregious. peculiar It’s peculiar the PECU is a LIAR. That bird is very peculiar. perceive It's "i" before "e" except after "c." I perceive things differently from you. perform PER the directions they FORMed a line. Will the band perform tonight? permanent The PERM on the mAN cost just a cENT. That change was permanent. persevere PER the directions, he SEVEREd it. The only way to succeed is to persevere. personally The PERSON was an ALLY. Personally, I don't like it. persuade PER the SUn, he had it mADE. I tried to persuade him that he is wrong. picture The PIC was taken at the right aperTURE. That's a beautiful picture. piece Have a piece of the pie. He was eating a piece of chicken. planning Plan to put two “n’s” in planning. I was planning to come later. pleasant He tried to PLEASe the ANT. The visit has been very pleasant. political The POL Is noT ethICAL. Everything is so political these days. possess Remember to possess two double “s’s” in possess. You don't possess an ounce of dignity. possible The POSSe Is BLEssed. It’s not possible to get the assignment completed in time. practical PRACTICe to replace the “e” with “AL” in practical. It’s not practical to rely on magic. prefer PREp the FERn. I prefer orange juice to lemonade. prejudice Don’t PREJUDge; think twICE. The racist was full of prejudice. presence The PRESident chose pENCE. He made his presence known. privilege Privilege is just PRIVI with a LEG and an E. It’s been a privilege to meet you. probably He handled the PROBlem ABLY. I could probably meet for lunch next week. professional The PROFESSor said there are two “s’s” in professIONAL, too. He was very professional in his conduct at work. promise The PROM date was a surprISE. I will never promise you a rose garden. proof I have proof that there are two “o’s” in proof. Einstein showed proof of his theory of relativity. psychology Please Say You Can Hit Old Ladies, Or Get Yogurt. He practiced psychology for many years. quantity The QUANT Is TinY. That’s a large quantity of grapes. quarter The QUARTEt is Ready. Four quarters make a dollar. quiet Please keep quiet about my diet. Just be quiet! quit Quiet lost its “e” and became quit. No, I won’t quit this job. quite Quit added an “e” and became quite. That’s quite a statement you made. realize The REAl man materiaLIZEd. I didn’t realize I was being so loud. receive Remember “i” before “e” except after “c.” It’s better to give than to receive. recognize Ryan Epping was COGent about having to orgaNIZE. He was recognized for his bravery. recommend I recommend you put two “m’s” in recommend. I highly recommend the applicant. reference REFER it to mike pENCE. I’d be happy to serve as a reference. religious RELIGate the task to the pIOUS man. There’s a great divide between religious and nonreligious people. repetition REPEaT IT In unisON. Repetition is the best way to learn. restaurant REST before you and your AUnt start to RANT.. He ran a very clean restaurant. rhythm Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move. Dance to the rhythm of the night. ridiculous RID the Island of CUrious LOUSes. Your crazy plan is just ridiculous. sacrifice Use the SACk to RId the ofFICE of mice. It was a great sacrifice for me to come here. safety Safely add “ty” to safe to get safety. He needs to heed the safety rules. scissors Steve Cut Into the Seven Samurai on Orders from Rick Smith. Never run with scissors. secretary Just add “ary” to secret to get secretary. The secretary is very quick at taking dictation. separate There's A RAT in separate. There are separate doors at the front and back of the house. shining Marty hurt his SHIN choppING wood. The sun was shining brightly. similar SIMI valley has a lot of LARd. The two theories are very similar. sincerely Pair SINCE and RELY to get sincerely. Generally, end a letter by saying “sincerely.” soldier Sam Ordered Larry to DIE Respectfully for his country. The soldier died in battle. speech Draw it out: Put two “e’s” in speech. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a memorable speech in Washington. stopping STOP and hear the PING. We’ll be stopping at the store on the way home. strength Schwarzenegger Trained REally Nicely at Gold’s gym on THe highway. The athlete showed great strength and agility. studying Just add “ing” to study to get studying. I’ve been up all night studying. succeed To succeed requires two “c’s” and two "e's." If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. successful Be successful: Put two “c’s” and two “s’s” in successful. The businesswoman is very successful. surely Sure, just add “ly” to get surely. Surely you don’t believe that! surprise The SURPlus caused inventory to RISE. It was a wonderful surprise to see you here. temperature The TEMP, Ed, Realized Afterward That Umpire Rick Equivocated. He had a temperature of 100.4 F. temporary The TEMP Or Rick Ate Real Yogurt. Relax. This situation is only temporary. through Just add “hr” to tough to get through. He counted every number from one through 10,000. toward I TOW an ARDvark. Never run toward danger. tries Just switch the “i” and “r” in tires to get tries. He tries so hard, but he rarely succeeds. truly Tom Really Understands Libby’s Yeti. I truly appreciate your help. twelfth The TWin ELF THought about it. He worked until the twelfth of the month. until To spell until, just think untile without the “e.” He worked until the twelfth of the month. unusual UNUSed, Uni Asked Larry for a loan. It’s unusual to duplicate sentences, but sometimes it’s called for. using Using is just like use, but replace the "e" with “ing.” I don’t like using a computer. usually USU was his ALLY. He usually arrives early. village It takes two “l’s” to spell village. It takes a village to solve problems. weird Moving the "e" turns wired into weird. That man was weird. welcome WE Love COmmunists from MEndecino. Welcome to the jungle. Whether, weather Heather likes cold WEATHER, WHETHER or not anyone else does. Whether I want to accept it or not, the weather will soon turn to snow. writing To write writing, just drop the “e” and replace with “ing.” As of this writing, the information is correct. Spelling Review Exercises for Commonly Misspelled Words 30 Top Spelling Mnemonics The Mechanics of Writing Composition Quiz on 25 Commonly Misspelled Words Proofreaders' and Teachers' Correction Marks 9 Very Important Russian Grammar Rules Spelling Tricky Words: Dessert vs. Desert Tips for Remembering How to Spell Wednesday and Other Tricky Words What Is an Abbreviation? Strategies to Proofread Effectively Tips to Improve Your Spelling Gray or Grey: How to Choose the Right Word How to Pronounce German Words in English Mnemonic Devices for Students There, Their, and They're: How to Choose the Right Word What Is an Acrostic?