Frequently Misspelled Words Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 28, 2011


Certain words are frequently misspelled by even the best spellers. In this lesson, you'll see why some of these words are misspelled, and review a list of the most commonly misspelled words.

PEOPLE MISSPELL WORDS for a host of reasons. Many of the most commonly misspelled words, however, have one of four characteristics in common. These characteristics are double-letter combination, confusion between c and s, misuse of -able / -ible, and misuse of -ance and -ence.

  1. Double-letter combination. Many words with double letters are misspelled with single letters. For instance, the words accommodate, possess, committee, occurrence, and millennium often have their double letters erroneously written as single letters. Other times, double-letter combinations are used where they shouldn't be. The word harass is often written as harrass, for example, and fulfill as fullfill.
  2. Confusion between c and s. When c and s both appear in the same word, they often cause confusion, leading people to use the wrong letter. The words absence, descend, license, and discipline are often misspelled. If you have trouble with words that contain both c and s, you might want to create a mnemonic for those words.
  3. Misuse of -able / -ible. Since these suffixes are pronounced alike, it can be difficult to remember which words are spelled with –able and which with -ible. Keep in mind that -able is most often added to words that can stand alone such as regrettable, manageable, or noticeable. The suffix -ible, on the other hand, is added to roots that cannot stand alone, such as eligibleor susceptible.
  4. Misuse of -ance / -ence. Here again, you can't rely on pronunciation to tell you whether to use -ance or -ence. What you can do is determine which words ending in -ance or -ence you have trouble with, and then exaggerate the a or e sound in the endings. For example, you would stress the a in -ance in the words resemblance, abundance, maintenance, and acquaintance, and the e in -ence in the words independence, persistence, coincidence, and correspondence.

Commonly Misspelled Words 

The following list contains 150 commonly misspelled words; they are all spelled correctly in the list. As you read through this list, be alert to those words whose spelling surprises you. Pay special attention to these words and add them to your master list of words that you need to practice and learn.

One way to use this list effectively is to read through it and check off the words that you thought were spelled differently. Then, go back through the checked words to see whether you can find any patterns. Do you have a hard time with certain vowel combinations? Are there particular suffixes that give you trouble? If you notice any patterns that emerge, spend some extra time on the lessons that apply to them.

Frequently Misspelled Words

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Frequently Misspelled Words Practice Exercises

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