Common Spelling Mistakes
Today’s lesson is all about spelling mistakes involving adding an extra letter to a word, or accidentally removing a letter from a word. There are so many words in English where these errors can happen, but again I’m going to focus on the most common ones.
Let’s begin with accidentally removing a letter.
FORGETTING THE “R” IN SURPRISE, FORWARD, AND FEBRUARY
This error is probably caused by the fact that when speaking fast, we often don’t pronounce the R: surprise, forward, February.
Listen to how they sound in sentences:
We’re planning a surprise party.
If I call your name, please step forward.
The month of February has 28 days.
FORGETTING THE “N” BEFORE THE “M” IN ENVIRONMENT AND GOVERNMENT
A similar mistake is forgetting to include the “N” before the M in words like environment and government. Again, it’s because when speaking fast, the “N” sound gets shortened or eliminated.
This new law will help protect the environment.
He’s considering a career in government.
FORGETTING DOUBLE LETTERS
Double letters can also cause difficulties in spelling. I often see students spell opportunity with only one “P,” or necessary with only one “s.”
FORGETTING DOUBLE “L”S
Words like finally, equally, really, locally, generally, basically all have two “L”s before the final Y. But the words definitely and fortunately only have one “L” before the final Y.
MISSPELLING OCCUR, OCCURRING, OCCURRED
Another common mistake involves the words occur, occurring, and occurred. As you can see, the base form has two “C”s and one “R” – but when we add the -ING or -ED, then we need to double the R.
The word occur means essentially the same thing as the word happen. But with happen, we do NOT double the N when we write happening or happened.
WORDS WITH MULTIPLE PAIRS OF DOUBLE LETTERS
Some English words have multiple pairs of double letters, and English learners and native speakers often forget one of the letters.
Here are some of the most common:
committee has two Ms, two Ts, and two Es
embarrassed has two Rs and two Ss
succeed has two Cs and two Es
successful has two Cs, one E, and two Ss
possession has two sets of double Ss
accommodation has two Cs and two Ms
Now let’s look at some words where the mistake involves adding an extra letter.
ADDING AN EXTRA DOUBLE LETTER
Sometimes people take a word that has a double letter elsewhere, and add an extra double letter:
tomorrow has only one M and two Rs (not “tommorrow”)
recommend has only one C and two Ms (not “reccommend”)
beginning has a single G in the middle and two Ns (not “begginning”)
disappointed has only one S and two Ps (not “dissappointed”)
commitment has two Ms and a single T in the middle (not “committment”)
ADDING A “U” TO “FORTY”
The words for the number four (4) and fourteen have a “u,” but the word forty (40) does not.
ADDING A “U” TO “CURIOSITY”
The adjective curious contains the letter “u”, but the noun curiosity does not. The word stress is also different:
He was a curious boy. (CUR-i-ous)
His curiosity got him into trouble. (cur-i-OS-i-ty)
ADDING AN “E” TO “TRULY”
The adjective true has an “e,” but the adverb truly does not.
It’s similar with the words argue and arguing / argument – the base form, argue, has a silent “e” at the end. We keep the “e” in the past tense – argued – but in the continuous form arguing and the noun form argument, there is no “e” after the “u.”
ADDING AN EXTRA “O” TO “PRONUNCIATION”
A common error I see when students are writing about English is to add an extra “o” to the word pronunciation. This probably comes from the fact that the verb pronounce does have “noun” in the middle. But the word pronunciation has “nun” in the middle, not noun.
ADDING AN EXTRA “L” TO “UNTIL”
The word until is very common in English, and it only has one “L,” not two.
What makes it confusing is we also have the word till, which is an informal, short word meaning “until.” Till has two “L”s, but until has only one.
I’ll wait until you’re finished. = I’ll wait till you’re finished.
PROBLEMS WITH -GE AND -DGE ENDINGS
Finally, the endings -ge and -dge often cause spelling problems because they’re pronounced the same, so you might not be sure when to include the letter “D.”
college and privilege and huge and image do not have a D; they all end in -GE
knowledge and bridge and judge and edge do have a D; they all end in -DGE