How would you suggest spelling any of these words to eliminate the problem? E-mail your suggestions to Mashabell@aol.com

Words most commonly misspelled by children in Year 8 and under

again

all right

always

an

and

animals

another

around

asked

babies

beautiful

because

before

believe

bought

came

caught

children

clothes

coming

course

cousin

decided

didn't

different

dropped

every

February

first

for

friend

friends

frightened

from

getting

going

happening

hear

heard

here

him

interesting

its

it's

jumped

knew

know

let's

like

little

looked

many

money

morning

mother

name

named

off

once

our

people

pretty

received

running

said

school

some

something

sometimes

started

stopped

suprise

swimming

than

that's

their

then

there

they

they're

things

thought

threw

through

to

together

too

tried

two

until

very

wanted

went

were

when

where

with

woman

would

you're

easily confused words because they are said the same (many are only a problem later in life as they aren't in a younger child's vocabulary)

aid/aide

air/heir

allowed/aloud

altar/alter

arc/ark

ascent/assent

assistance/assistants

ate/eight

bail/bale

ball/bawl

band/banned

bare/bear

base/bass

be/bee

beach/beech

beat/beet

berry/bury

berth/birth

billed/build

bite/byte

blew/blue

boar/bore

board/bored

boarder/border

bolder/boulder

born/borne

bough/bow

boy/buoy

brake/break

bread/bred

bridal/bridle

buy/by/bye

canvas/canvass

capital/capitol

carat/carrot

cast/caste

caught/cot

cede/seed

ceiling/sealing

cell/sell

cellar/seller

cereal/serial

cheap/cheep

chews/choose

Chile/chilly

choral/coral

chute/shoot

close/clothes

coarse/course

colonel/kernel

complement/compliment

core/corps

council/counsel

creak/creek

crews/cruise

currant/current

cymbal/symbol

days/daze

dear/deer

die/dye

doe/dough

dual/duel

earn/urn

faint/feint

fair/fare

feat/feet

find/fined

fir/fur

flair/flare

flea/flee

flour/flower

forth/fourth

foul/fowl

grate/great

groan/grown

guessed/guest

hail/hale

hair/hare

hall/haul

hangar/hanger

hear/here

heard/herd

hi/high

higher/hire

him/hymn

hoard/horde

hoarse/horse

hole/whole

hour/our

idle/idol

in/inn

intense/intents

flew/flu/flue

for/four

its/it's

jam/jamb

kneed/need

knight/night

knot/not

know/no

lead/led

leased/least

lessen/lesson

lie/lye

load/lode

loan/lone

made/maid

mail/male

maize/maze

mall/maul

manner/manor

meat/meet

might/mite

miner/minor

missed/mist

muscle/mussel

naval/navel

none/nun

one/won

oar/or/ore

pail/pale

pain/pane

passed/past

pause/paws

peace/piece

peak/peek

peal/peel

pedal/peddle

peer/pier

plain/plane

pole/poll

pore/pour

pray/prey

presence/presents

principal/principle

profit/prophet

rain/reign/rein

raise/rays

rap/wrap

read/red

read/reed

real/reel

right/write/rite

ring/wring

role/roll

road/rode/rowed

root/route

rose/rows

sail/sale

scene/seen

sea/see

seam/seem

scent/sent

serf/surf

shone/shown

side/sighed

sight/site

slay/sleigh

soar/sore

sole/soul

some/sum

son/sun

stair/stare

stake/steak

stationary/stationery

steal/steel

straight/strait

suite/sweet

tail/tale

tea/tee

tear/tier

theirs/there's

threw/through

throne/thrown

tide/tied

to/too/two

toe/tow

vain/vane/vein

wade/weighed

ware/wear/where

wail/whale

waist/waste

wait/weight

waive/wave

way/weigh

weak/week

weather/whether

weave/we've

we'd/weed

which/witch

who's/whose

wood/would

your/you're

Did You Know:

• Ask your friend what Y-E-S spells. They won't have any difficulty saying yes. Then ask what E-Y-E-S spells. It's easy when it's written down, but surprisingly difficult when it's spoken. See a YouTube video of this.

• Who has not heard i before e, except after c. A University of Warwick statistician put it to the test. He plugged a list of 350,000 English words into a statistical program to see if the math checked out. It didn't.

• When Adam met Eve for the first time, he said Madam, I'm Adam. This is a palindrome — a phrase or sentence in which the letters, words or even lines read the same in either direction. Adam hoped to impress the most beautiful woman in the world, but she more than matched him by replying simply, Eve. Not bad given that writing, and therefore palindromes, and English ones in particular, had not yet been invented! More palindromes, and a wonderful palindromic poem.

• How would you pronounce ghoti? Pronounce it like this:

and you get ... fish! Thanks to Charles Ollier for writing this in 1855 — and for showing that English spelling has been ludicrous for quite some time.

• One of the arguments in favour of keeping English spelling unchanged is to show the etymology of words. For example, the silent s in island shows the link to the Latin insula. But island actually derives from the Old English íglund, not from the Latin at all. More examples at Mental Floss.

 

Page editor: N Paterson. Contact by email or form.
FAMOUS ONES WHO WANTED TO IMPROVE
THE ENGLISH SPELLING SYSTEM
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Charles Darwin
  • Lord Tennyson
  • Mark Twain
  • Theodore Roosevelt

 

Page editor: N Paterson. Contact by email or form.