Reading comments online, I notice that there are people who write flawlessly, while there are people with spelling and grammar mistakes littered all over their writing.
While there is no prize for the best speller, fundamental spelling mistakes in your writing can distract the reader and create a negative first impression. Here a list of words which I have observed to be commonly misspelled / misused, along with their correct forms (note that I use American English on PE):
Common Spelling Mistakes
Spelled with two “c”s and one “s”.
Usage: “Weddings are such joyous occasions.”
Spelled with one “s” and two “p”s.
Usage: “He really disappointed me when he forgot all about our first year anniversary.”)
Spelled with two “r”s and two “s”s.
Usage: “John really embarrassed Ann in front of the crowd when he made fun of her like that.”
Spelled with “ite” at the end, not “ate”. There is no “a” in “definite”.
Usage: “I will definitely be there at your wedding. You can count on me for that.”
Spelled with two “p”s and one “s”.
Usage: “She is supposed to be here at two pm but she is still not here yet. She must be running late.”
Usage: Regardless of what he did, he is still your father at the end of the day.
Often wrongly used in place of “regardless”. There is no such word as “irregardless”. [More on wikipedia.]
believe — believable (remove the last “e” when you add “able”)
The extended forms of the root words are commonly misspelled, either with an extra “e” or missing an “e” in the middle. This is where the quirks of English kicks in: there is no set rule on when to remove the “e” or not from the root word. The best way is just to memorize them by heart.
Spelled with two “a”s in the middle.
Usage: “The two brothers have been separated at birth. They have since been reunited.”
Spelled with three “s”s — one before the first “e” and two after that
Usage: “You are obsessed with catching that thief. Stop thinking about it; he has already escaped with your purse and there’s nothing that can be done about it anymore.”
Spelled with four “s”s — two before the first “e” and two after that
Usage: “He is a very materialistic person. He is often comparing his material possessions with other people.”
Commonly Misused Words
The words in both columns are correct and exist in English language, but are often wrongly used.
effect (verb, noun)
To cause/bring about a change. Most commonly used as a noun.
E.g., “He effected these changes with his great persuasion skills.” (verb) or “The effects of the company merger are still being felt after two years.” (noun)
To produce an effect.
E.g., “He affected me a great deal when he said those harsh words.”
Contraction for “you are”.
E.g., “You’re the most beautiful person I have ever met.” or “You’re such a true friend to me.”
A possessive term. It refers to someone’s ownership over something.
E.g., “Is this your book?” or “Your boyfriend borrowed money from me yesterday.”
Contraction for “it is”.
A possessive term. It refers to an item’s ownership over something.
E.g., “This is a cat. That is its tail.” or “This book is a gift. Its cover is beautifully designed.”
Contraction for “they are”.
E.g., “They’re very good friends.” or “They’re arguing with each other right now.”
A possessive term. It refers to a group’s ownership over something.
E.g., “That is the Stepford family. Their house is right across the block.” or “Mavis just got married to Prince yesterday. Their wedding was beautiful.”
Refers to a position or a point.
Contraction for “we are”.
E.g., “We’re currently living in New York.” or “We’re not on speaking terms at the moment.”
Past tense of “are”.
E.g., “We were at the Stepford’s yesterday. Their place was beautiful.” or “They were planning to go fishing, but the rain made them change their plans.”
Writing materials such as pen, pencils, eraser, and envelopes.
E.g., “We need to buy some stationery for Tadi. He doesn’t have anything to write with for his English lessons.”
To remain motionless.
E.g., “That car has been stationary for a while.”
An accepted rule of conduct.
E.g., “You can find many principles of happiness in this happiness guide. Adhering to them will definitely make you a happier person, starting today.”
principal (adjective, noun)
As an adjective: First in importance.
E.g., “The principal rule of baseball is to score more runs than the other team by crossing all four base paths.”
As a noun: The chief or head of an institution, usually an educational one.
E.g., “The principal of this school is Mr Quek. He has been here for over three years.”
to (preposition, adverb)
As a preposition: To express direction, motion, or to a point in time.
E.g., “This shop opens from nine am to six pm.” or “Go to Grandpa and give him a kiss.”
As an adverb: Into a state of consciousness.
E.g., “After he came to, his family began fussing over him.”
Excessive, extremely, very.
E.g., “She is too spoilt. Her parents should keep her in check.” or “He is too fat. He needs to start losing some weight.”
Spelled with two “s”s. Refers to cake, pie, ice cream, etc. that is typically served after the main course of a meal.
E.g., “What’s for dessert today? I hope it’s chocolate fudge ice cream.”
Spelled with only one “s”. Refers to a region with so little rainfall that only few forms of life can exist.
E.g., “The Sahara is the largest desert on the African continent and the hottest desert in the world.”
Free from restraint; not bound together.
E.g., “Your shoe laces have gone loose. Tie them before we get off the car.” or “He set his dogs loose on the intruder.”
To come to be without possession of something, usually through accident or theft.
E.g., “He lost his wallet this morning.”
To be bereaved of by death.
E.g., “The loss of his sister devastated him.”