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Spelling & Grammar

Common Spelling Mistakes in English

English can be confusing at times, even for native speakers, expert writers, and linguists. There are so many words that sound the same but are spelled different and mean different things. (These are known as a homophone.)

As a writer and as someone who has worked as a freelance editor, I’ve run into plenty of spelling mistakes. These are the ones I’ve noticed people confuse most often.

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Most Common Spelling Mistakes

To vs. Two vs. Too

Three words that sound the same but are all spelled different and mean different things are two, to, and too.

Two is an easy one because it’s spelling and meaning are both quite different. But, we’ll look at it anyways.

Two: a number

I ordered two cakes.

To: a preposition with many meanings

I went to the store today.

I hoped to see them.

I walked from one country to another.

Too: an adverb, meaning also, in addition, or very

I liked that, too.

I wasn’t too tired.

They’re vs. Their vs. There

Some of the most confused words (rather, the most confused words) are they’re, there, and their.

They’re: a contraction of “they are”

They’re excited about the food.

Their: possessive form of they

It wasn’t their favorite movie.

There: many meanings depending on its use

There weren’t enough seats.

Did you see it there?

He arrived there.

Affect vs. Effect

Affect: to change or impact

That movie affected him.

Effect: a consequence or result

The effect of the weather was great.

It’s vs. Its

Easy to mistake because of their similarities, here are the differences between the two words.

It’s: contraction of “it is”

It’s beginning to rain.

Its: possessive form of it

It hurt its leg.

Aspire vs. Inspire

Aspire: to want to

aspire to be perfect.

Inspire: to influence or affect

She inspires me to do better.

Pray vs. Prey

Pray: to offer or wish (usually used in a religious context)

prayed for a sunny day.

He prayed she would say yes.

Prey: a target or hunted animal

The rabbit was prey for the fox.

The stalker preyed on his victim.

Capital vs. Capitol

Capital: many definitions including towns or cities that hold significance and capital letters

Washington D.C. is the capital of the US.

Capitol: Dictionary.com defines ‘capitol’ as a building that is occupied by state legislature.

Principle vs. Principal

Principle: a doctrine or truth

The students have good principles.

Principal: the leader of a school or high-ranking official

I like the new school principal.

Words That Are Often Misspelled

Correct vs. Incorrect

✅ definitely ❌ definately

✅ necessary ❌ neccessary

✅ a lot ❌ alot

✅ business ❌ buisness

✅ calendar ❌ calender

✅ embarrass ❌ embarass

✅ maintenance ❌ maintainance

✅ recommend ❌ reccommend

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