Do you need to use the word “separate” in your writing? As it has different pronunciations, it can be tricky to figure out which vowels go where. Take a look at our tips below to remember how to spell it right every time.
What Does “Separate” Mean?
“Separate” can be an adjective or a verb, but it is pronounced differently in each case. The adjectival form indicates that something is set apart from other things, or not connected or united with anything else:
They divided the class into three separate groups.
Marketing and development are two separate departments.
When someone uses this form in speech, it has a “ret” sound at the end.
As a verb, meanwhile, it means to move things apart, distinguish them from each other, or divide something up into distinct elements. For instance:
The police separated the aggressive men.
They separated the candidates into groups based on their test results.
We need to separate the different elements of the compound.
When someone uses this form in speech, it has a “rate” sound at the end. And now we’ve seen what this word means, let’s look at some errors.
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Most of the spelling mistakes with this word occur because a writer uses the wrong vowel or misses out a vowel altogether. For example:
You should seperate dark clothes from light ones before a wash.
The club has seprate changing rooms for men and women.
The second error here is especially common, as it can be hard to make out the vowel sound in the middle of this word. However, it should always be spelled with an “a.” Below, we’ll look at some ways to remember this.
Spelling Tips for “Separate”
So, how can you avoid making mistakes with this word? Perhaps the best way is with this simple mnemonic (i.e., a phrase that works as a memory aid):
There is “a rat” in “separate.”
If you can remember this, it should be easy to remember that “separate” has an “a” in the middle. Remembering these key points should help, too:
The adjective and verb forms are spelled the same.
There’s a vowel in between each consonant and the next one.
The vowels in “separate” make a nice, symmetrical pattern: e–a–a–e.
This guide offers some ideas to help you spell “separate” correctly. But if you’d like any extra support with any aspect of your writing, remember that our expert proofreading service is available 24/7.