The most common misspellings: Tips and tricks for tackling the tricky English langauge

It’s an ironic calamity that “misspell” is one of the 100 most commonly misspelled words—but here we are. Due to linguistic evolution and borrowing from other languages, American English spelling isn’t the easiest thing in the world to master. Here is a list of the most common misspellings and a few tricks to avoid the traps.

Common misspellings A-Z


Accidentally:   Think of the adjective first, then add –ly.

All right:          Two words. It will not be all right if you use “alright.” (Some linguists now debate that the slang version “alright” may be gaining more acceptance in both American and British English, but it may be best to avoid when in doubt.)

Argument:       Drop the “e” from “argue” and add –ment.


Believe:           Remember the rule: “i” before “e,” except after ”c.”

Business:         Add –ness to “busi.”


Cemetery:        All “e”s, no “a”s.

Completely:     Add –ly to “complete.”

Conscious:       Remember the –sc in the middle, and end with –ious.


Definitely:       Add –ly to “definite.” No “a”: think “finite,” but with de– before it.

Disappear:       That second “s” you think is there disappeared.

Discipline:       Like a disciple, you have to be disciplined to spell this right: think “sc.”


Embarrass:       Two ”r”s, ending in –ass.

Environment:  Throw in the sneak-attack “n” and you’re golden.

Exhilarate:       “e”s at the beginning and end; “a”s in the middle.


Fahrenheit:      The ”h” comes before the ”r.”

Fiery:               Fire, but fiery: switch the placement of the “r” and the “e.”

Foreseeable:    Foresee, with –able.


Gist:                No “j” in gist.

Glamorous:      Glamour (with “our “at the end), but glam”or”ous.


Harass:                        Only one ”r.”

Humorous:      An “o” on either side of ”r.”


Immediately:   Add –ly to “immediate.”

Independent:   No “a” in independence.

Irresistible:      Are you able to resist ending irresistible with –able?

It’s/its:             The contraction stands for “it is.” No contraction means it’s possessive.


Judgment:       Everyone will judge you if you leave an extra “e” in judgment.


Knowledgeable: Add –able to “knowledge.”


Liaison:           An “i” on both sides of the “a.”

License:           “c” first, “s” second.


Medieval:        It’s not evil to misspell medi”eval.”

Millennium:     Two “l”s, two “n”s, two “i”s and two “m”s.

Mischievous:   Remember: “i” before ”e”; ends in –ous.


Necessary:       The double “s” is necessary.

Noticeable:      Add –able to “notice.”


Occasionally:   There’s only one “s” for this occasion.

Occurrence:     Two “c”s and two “r”s make up occurrence.


Parallel:           The two “l”s are like two parallel lines, right between “para– “ and “–el.”

Pastime:           How do you pass the time? With only one ”t.”

Privilege:         First come the two ”i”s, then the two “e”s.

Possession:      You’ll use “s” four times.

Publicly:          Add –ly to “public,” and you have publicly.


Questionnaire: I question the number of “n”s in this word.


Receive:          Again: “i” before “e,” except after ”c.”

Resistance:      Resis ends in –ance.

Rhythm:          No vowels. The second and second-to-last letters are both ”h”s.


Separate:         The only “e”s are at the end and the beginning.

Supersede:       No “c”s in this joint.


There/their/they’re: Are we there yet? They’re not. But, their car is.

Tomorrow:      Two ”r”s, no ”a.”

Tongue:           It’s like tong, but with –ue at the end.

Threw/through: The –w is for the verb; the –ough is for the preposition.


Unfortunately:            Ends in –ely.

Until:   Drop the extra “l” you’re tempted to use, and you have until.


Vacuum:          One “c,” two “u”s. Vacuum.


Weird: It’s so weird that this word breaks the “i” before “e” rule.

Which: The wicked witch cursed us, but which witch was wicked?

So many exceptions to English language rules, so little time to hang around memorizing them all. If you’re a student that spelling doesn’t quite come naturally to, consider printing this post out and adding in any extra words that you find to be particularly arduous!

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