The Five Most Common Spelling Errors
  • 3-minute read
  • 30th November 2022

The Five Most Common Spelling Errors

Everyone makes spelling mistakes. Yep, everyone! William Shakespeare, H.P. Lovecraft, Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, Steven King, and even your high school English teacher have all made spelling mistakes from time to time.

Some spelling mistakes are more common than others. In this guide, you’ll find the most common types of spelling errors and tips on how to avoid them.

Five Common Spelling Errors

Missing silent letters

Many common spelling mistakes come from words not being spelled how they’re pronounced.

Silent letters (letters that aren’t pronounced) can take credit for many spelling errors. Here are some frequently misspelled words with silent letters:







Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Often these words will get mixed up, leading to a word that sounds exactly right when spoken aloud, but is spelled the wrong way.

Sunday vs sundae

Bare vs bear

Cell vs sell

All the spellings above are correct, but they spell different words.

Similar sounding words

There are words that sound similar but are different, like:

Accept vs except

Affect vs effect

Complement vs compliment

Cafatiere vs cafeteria

These spellings are all correct, but the words have different meanings, so it’s no surprise they can cause confusion.

Pro tip: Affect vs. effect is a common spelling sticking point. If you’re struggling to remember which word to use, remember that affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

Double-lettered words

Embarrassed vs embarased

Accompanied vs acompanied

Fossils vs fosils

Positioning of I and E

The letters I and E are major culprits in spelling mistakes. It’s widely known that I comes before E in most words in which the letters appear next to each other.

However, there are exceptions, like the word receive. A good way to get this type of spelling right is to think of the mnemonic I before E, except after C.

Unfortunately, in many cases, you must take time to learn the correct spelling of words to get them right. But – and this is a big but – there are some tricks out there that can help you with your spelling. Here are three of them:

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How to avoid spelling errors

Use mnemonics

Mnemonics are helpful rhymes, songs, and expressions that aid learning and remembering. There are lots of mnemonic tricks to help you remember spellings, such as:

Goofy Greg likes to exaggerate

The repetition of the letter G in Goofy Greg reminds us that there are two Gs in exaggerate.

Click here for 5 mnemonics to help you with difficult spellings.

List your most common spelling mistakes

When you notice there are particular words that you’re often misspelling, note them down. Compile a list. Then, spend some time learning them – even if that’s just a few minutes per day before you go to bed.

Say it aloud

Sometimes people misspell because they’re writing quickly and not taking the time to think about each sound in the word. When you’re writing a word, say each syllable aloud – make sure it doesn’t have silent letters or other spelling quirks first!

As we said, spelling mistakes happen. That’s why editors exist.

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