Most Common Misspelled Words

My wife recently handed me a list purporting to contain the 100 most often misspelled words in the English language, and I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of them and the hints given for remembering how to spell them correctly. No, you do not have to wade through all 100 of them today. We’ll just go through the letter A. My comment about each one is added.

  • acceptable – Several words made the list because of the suffix pronounced -êbl but sometimes spelled -ible, sometimes -able. Just remember to accept any table offered to you and you will spell this word OK.

Sounds kinda silly, but maybe it’ll help someone remember.

  • accidentally – It is no accident that the test for adverbs on -ly is whether they come from an adjective on -al (“accidental” in this case). If so, the -al has to be in the spelling. No publical, then publicly.

This seems sensible. If the root word ends in al, the adverb ends in ally. Okay.

  • accommodate – Remember, this word is large enough to accommodate both a double “c” AND a double “m.”

For some reason, I’m good at misspelling this one. I always get the double “m” but frequently forget to double the “c.”

  • acquire – Try to acquire the knowledge that this word and the next began with the prefix ad- but the [d] converts to [c] before [q].

Seems like someone is really stretching to be cute here.

  • acquit – See the previous discussion.

Same as above.

  • a lot – Two words! Hopefully, you won’t have to allot a lot of time to this problem.

I almost never see this one spelled right. Please, folks. There is no alot.

  • amateur – Amateurs need not be mature: this word ends on the French suffix -eur (the equivalent of English -er).

This one would be easier if we’d pronounce it properly—amater–instead of amature.

  • apparent – A parent need not be apparent but “apparent” must pay the rent, so remember this word always has the rent.

This doesn’t even make sense. Just remember the double “p.”

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

They’re right, but is this clue easier to remember than just remembering the spelling to start with?

  • atheist – Lord help you remember that this word comprises the prefix a- “not” + the “god” (also in the-ology) + -ist “one who believes.”

Has anyone actually ever misspelled this one?

Don’t know how helpful this will be. Should I do more of these or just quietly retire the idea? Which of these words have you had trouble remembering how to spell?


WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.


For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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21 Responses to Most Common Misspelled Words


  2. David – I’m one of those kids that learned spelling by rote memory. Thus I have zero skill. How I wish wordpress would automatically alert me when I’ve butchered yet another word.


  3. As a college professor I cringe at the lousy spelling these days (okay, I’m starting to sound like my grandmother here; not a good thing). So thanks for the tips, David.

    Another ‘a’ word: awhile… I get comments from beta readers and even the occasional editor about this. Either ‘awhile’ or ‘a while’ is technically correct, but ‘awhile’ is becoming more commonly used. It is NOT wrong!


    • Thanks, Cassandra. I personally use “awhile” to mean soon, as in “I’ll do it in awhile.” I use “a while” to denote a longer period, as in “It took a while to finish it.” Don’t know if there’s any logic behind that other than my own.


  4. Karlene says:

    These are great! A fun way to learn. I’ve been reading flash cards for vocabulary for my GRE and been stretching the creativity to remember some of my words. Thanks for a great post!


  5. violafury says:

    David, I truly enjoyed this post, but I fear the ravages of time and hardening of the arteries have caught up with me. I had to stare at “amateur” for a full 10 seconds before thinking, “oh, yes. That IS how it is spelled.” Coming from someone who can’t remember not knowing how to read and has had a lifelong preternatural ability to spell anything, rather than running around with my hair on fire, I’ll just accept that my brain was having a little rest and move on from there. Thanks! 🙂


  6. Barb Estinson says:

    Your tips make me grin, David. How accommodating is that?


  7. David, You are after my own heart. As an ex-spelling bee champion, misspelled words are my pet peeve. I like some of your tips for remembering, but let me share with you one hint my elementary school teacher gave us about the words ‘a lot’. She said an easy way to remember that it is two words is to put the word ‘whole’ in the middle of it. Since she said that I never made that mistake again.


  8. Sharon Walker says:

    Going through all 100 words in great detall would probably become too tedious, so why not just list the 100 most commonly misspelled English words without any further explanation? I consider myself a fine speller, but some of these words have really given (or still give me) me headaches.


  9. Yes! I love tips and tricks about proper spelling. I don’t always write with that handy squiggly red line telling me to rethink my spelling. Sometimes, I *gasp* use pen and paper.

    I’m stubborn determined to learn from versus depend on MS Word. I rarely right click for the correct spelling. I delete and retry until I write it right on my own.

    Of the ones you’ve listed, accommodate is the word that tripped me up. Correct spelling became imbedded in an empty brain cell (previously used for lose and loose). This happened about…


    Three minutes ago.

    I see lose and loose misspelled all the time. The trick I use? Loose Goose. If it doesn’t play with goose, it’s a loser.


  10. Thanks for sharing these tips David. Enjoyed it 😉


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