6 Commonly Misspelled English Words


commonly misspelled english words

6 Commonly Misspelled English Words

It doesn’t matter what type of writing you’re trying to do – whether you’re writing school essays, blog posts, novels, or just emails for personal use – words are the building blocks of everything you write. Everything.

So, it’s important to know what they mean and how to spell them to ensure your message gets communicated as effectively as possible. In this post, I’m going to be exploring six of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language, and I’m going to provide you with some tips that will (hopefully) help you remember how to spell them.

I’ve always had a knack for spelling things correctly. I don’t know why. Spelling has just always come pretty naturally for me. Maybe it’s because I used to sit around reading the dictionary as a child. Yes, I actually did. Probably because my dad used to tell me to look things up in the dictionary so much whenever I asked him how to spell something that I just got used to spending time there. The dictionary became my really good friend.

Still, I know spelling isn’t easy for everyone, especially not when it comes to the English language and our current education system that puts such an emphasis on phonics. That can be dangerous because most English words are not spelled phonetically, at least not strictly phonetically. Take, for instance, the word “phonetically.” If you’re spelling that phonetically, you’d put an “f” there, instead of the “ph,” so you’d come up with something like “fonetickly.”

You can say “ph” makes an “f” sound too, and it does, in “phonics,” “philosophy,” and “graphic.” But what about “shepherd?” The “ph” makes an “f” sound rule breaks down. I don’t remembering learning much phonics when I was a kid, and I’m awfully grateful for that. My daughters are going through that hassle now, and it’s really tripping the older one up, as far as knowing how to spell things. She knows a lot of words; she just doesn’t know how to spell them because she tries to spell them the way they sound. The younger one doesn’t fall for that trap as much, but it’s still an issue sometimes.

But this isn’t a post about phonics. Maybe I should create one on that topic at a later date. This post is about helping you remember how to spell some super-tricky English words. Here we go:


One of the definitions of this word is to “provide lodging or sufficient space for,” so one easy way to remember how to spell this word is to think of it being big enough to hold both double “c’s” and double “m’s” on their “date.” That’s what usually trips people up when they’re trying to spell this word.


Now, arguably, this is not a word that’s used all that often, unless you’re in business or political circles. It basically means “leader of the pack or herd.” But its archaic meaning refers to a castrated male sheep (a wether) that would wear a bell around his neck and be used to help the shepherd in leading the sheep around. So, try to remember the sheep with the bell – bell + wether. It has nothing to do with the weather.


I always used to have trouble spelling this one myself when I was a kid, and I blame Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. No, I didn’t read the book or see the movie when I was a kid, but I sure did see the book cover in bookstores, and the movie trailer and posters at theaters. Even the movie description on the Amazon Instant Video site has “cemetery” spelled incorrectly. Seems I’m not the only one King fooled. Thanks, Stephen King. You’ve ruined the spelling of that word for millions of people all over the world, and who knows how many future generations. 🙂


Part of the phonics information being taught to my girls says that a final “silent e” at the end of a word gives the vowel before it a long sound, and that’s true for the word “finite.” It’s no wonder so many people forget to put an “e” on the end of this word. But this isn’t “finite,” even though it looks like it. This word means “clear, unambiguous, certain.” And it’s “clear” you’re going to misspell this word if you forget to put an “e” on the end of it.


People who are “grateful” are “great” … except they might “grate” on your nerves after a while, if you’re feeling particularly bitter or down in the dumps. Is that why you knocked the last “l” off of “full”? You just couldn’t take all that happiness? I think I understand.


It’s easy to forget that this word (and its antonym) are dependent on “e’s,” but maybe this will help: “depend” in indent, just take away that final “d.”

in – depend – dent

Don’t forget to take away that final “d.” This is not a puddle or a muddle, even though it is kind of in the middle.

say what

So, these are just a few of the most confusing words in the English language when it comes to spelling. I’ll probably post some more soon, but until then I want to know: What words do you have trouble spelling correctly?

I’m not talking about texting here, either – where people leave out letters and change things up on purpose. (Yes, I do text in full sentences, and I almost always use correct spelling. I just can’t help myself!)

Which words do you think are missing from this list? I just might add them in future blog posts.

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