Spelling Tips: Definitely or Definately?
  • 2-minute read
  • 6th March 2022

Spelling Tips: Definitely or Definately?

Is accurate spelling important? Definitely! Or should that be “definately”? In this post, we’ll explain which of these spellings is correct and why people get this word wrong so often.

What Does Definitely Mean?

“Definitely” is an adverb that means without any doubt or certainly:

He will definitely arrive by 8:30 am.

Cheetahs are definitely faster than snails.

I definitely didn’t eat the last slice of cake.

The word is formed of three parts:

●  de: a Latin prefix, which in this case means completely.

●  finite: meaning bound or limited.

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●  ly: the suffix used to form an adverb from an adjective.

When spelling this word, the crucial part to remember is finite, which is always spelled with two “i”s, and never an “a.”

The Error: Definately

It’s easy to misspell “definitely” as “definately” because the word isn’t pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. The second “i” sounds like “uh” when it’s spoken, so people often wrongly assume that the vowel after the “n” should be an “a.” After all, that’s how we spell a lot of other words with the same sound, such as immediately, accurately, and approximately.

However, if you remove the suffix “ly” from those words, you’re left with the correctly spelled immediate, accurate, and approximate. But you won’t find definate in the dictionary!

Summary: Definitely or Definately?

“Definitely” is an adverb meaning without any doubt. It’s often misspelled as “definately” because when you say definitely, the second “i” doesn’t sound like an “i.” Instead, it sounds like “uh,” and other words with the same sound are usually spelled with an “a” (e.g., accurately).

To avoid making this common spelling mistake, remember that “definitely” contains the word finite (meaning limited), and therefore, it must always have two “i”s.

Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on spell checking software to pick up mistakes in your writing. If you’d like a human proofreader to check your work for typos, misplaced punctuation, and grammatical errors, we can help. Why not send us a free sample to proofread today?

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