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Can you Speel It?

Courtesy, as pretty much always, of Bryan A. Garner, here’s a list of 25 of the most commonly misspelled words…

Courtesy, as pretty much always, of Bryan A. Garner, here’s a list of 25 of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

  • accommodate
  • committee
  • consensus
  • definitely
  • embarrass
  • expedite
  • grammar
  • harass
  • hors d’oeuvre
  • innovate
  • inoculate
  • lieu
  • millennium
  • minuscule
  • misspelling
  • noticeable
  • occurrence
  • pavilion
  • persevere
  • playwright
  • receive
  • restaurateur
  • separate
  • supersede
  • ukulele

Commit these to memory, and should you ever find yourself needing to accommodate a ukulele player who wishes to receive an inoculation from a playwright while persevering at his art in a pavilion, you’ll be spared the embarrassment of making any innovative misspellings, whether minuscule or easily noticeable.

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  1. Believe me, we are in the accommodation business, and in my metadata, I have all the different permutations of accommodation. In my stats, I sometimes find acomadation…

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    1. Maybe that’s true in some countries or in some parts of some countries, but where I’ve lived (on the east and west coasts of the U.S.), hors d’oeuvre is very much alive and it is quite different from a snack.

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  2. Reblogged this on Gerry Wilson and commented:
    I would add to this list: knowing how to distinguish between its/it’s, your/you’re, there/they’re/their . . . and how to use nominative and objective pronouns (nominative = pronouns that name; objective = pronouns that receive action)! These are musts for a polished manuscript.

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  3. Years ago in a letter to senior management of the company where i worked I misspelled definitely as defiantly thanks to spell-check. I believe it nearly cost me my job. Oops.

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  4. I’m almost afraid to say anything here, lest I misspell it. My husband has his own list that is twice as long as this one. When we do crossword puzzles together, I have to check his spelling while I’m filling in my share of the answers. Keeps me on my toes. Thanks Daryl.

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    1. I learned diarrhea when I learned that the rrhea part was from a Greek word meaning (if I recall correctly) “to flow.” Hemorrhoids comes from the same root, and I learned to spell that one properly at the same time.

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      1. I was really surprised to see that what we in the UK spell ‘diarrhoea’ is not spelled the same in the USA. I had always assumed this was a medical term and the spelling would be universal.

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      2. You have a point there. I guess it’s like most words we spell differently regardless of the fact that it’s a medical term. Whatever the reason, it stills boils down to the same problem. :)

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  5. Daryl, love this. I reposted on my Facebook page. If you’d ever like to add to your list, how about the spelling of “a lot” which too many write as “alot.” That drives me bonkers.

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  6. American or UK dictionary and keyboard? have to keep adding words to dictionary because of the difference in each others spelling. ‘Colour or color. memorised or memorized. ;)

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  7. I would agree with couple of your previous commenters, that hors d’oeuvre is not English. And, being English myself, and not American, would like to point out that over here some of us like to pronounce it ‘Horses Douvres’ in deference to more than a thousand years of intermittent strife with the expression’s origin… but be very careful in using this pronunciation and only use it in front of people who know you know how it should be said and are just taking the piss!

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  8. Please add Gerry’s words to your list. I think folks disregard the purpose of the apostrophe and don’t read it’s as ‘it is’. It’s the most common glaring mistake I see in the best of newsletters. If we read aloud what we write, at least in our heads, we would read it’s as ‘it is’, you’re as ‘you are’, and they’re as ‘they are’, we could catch our mistakes!

    I have a question, where do you put ‘ and ” inside or outside the period, question or exclamation mark?

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    1. I’m old-fashioned and tend to put the quotes outside, but I believe there’s a growing trend of putting them inside, which does sometimes make sense, even if it doesn’t look as tidy.

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    1. My friend took a picture of all her children dancing in Depends undergarments. She posted it to facebook and wished everyone to have a Happy “In Depends Dance Day.” But she is odd.

      The most recent, I can’t believe they wrote that was a home educator offering their used “ciriculum” on our town’s FreeCycle. There are enough people arguing that parents aren’t qualified to teach their own children. No need to add fuel to their argument…

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  9. Funny thing is, though the browsers make a spell check for everything that is typed, still people tend to make spelling mistakes. Especially for the words mentioned in this post.

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  10. About punctuation marks inside or outside the quotation mark: as is often the case, the ‘English’ rules are much more complicated than the ‘American’ rules.
    In general, the ‘American’ rule is to put them inside the closing quotation marks.
    The ‘English’ rule is to place them according to the sense (Fowler), and that makes life pretty complicated. One example: if the final word inside the quotation marks is the end of a sentence as spoken, ie it would have had a period (or question mark, or exclamation mark) after it, then the period should come inside the quotation marks. A further complication is that the rule is different for fiction and non-fiction (Butcher); in fiction the ‘American’ rule is used.
    We have the same problem with ‘ize/ise’ in the UK. Because the adding of ‘ize’ to nouns to create a verb – words like ‘hospitalize’ (personally I think such words are often ugly, sometimes preposterous) – is understood to originate in American English, the ‘z’ version is generally referred to as ‘American’ – though the Oxford English Dictionary prefers it. However, some authorities say that it depends on whether the word derives from Latin or Greek. As few of us will know that, it’s better to settle on one but use it consistently. Where the word ending in ‘ise’ is not a verb created by adding ‘ise’ to a noun, eg ‘compromise’, then the ‘s’ cannot be changed.

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  11. Makes a Lot of sense, and with the advent of Microsoft products, you hardly need to be perfect in your spelling skills. I am not saying its a good thing, but that’s how things are shaping up now. You must have written so many combinations of the words above and all the time, your dear old MS Word would correct it for you.

    Someone has posted a study that after we get the style of writing we only look out for the first and the last letter of the word and the context to make sense of it, hence the long spellings are often wrongly spelled, we just don’t focus on the minutiae these days.

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