G-E-N-I-U-S, genius. That’s what most of us call spelling bee champs. In case you didn’t know, there are 171,476 English words in the 1989 version of the Oxford Dictionary? Mind you, that number comprises of just full-entries of currently used words. Add the 47,156 obsolete words, suffixes, conjugations, and you get at least a quarter of a million words. Of course, languages, just like the COVID virus, mutate or rather evolve, with every second, making it impossible to get an exact number. So how do these fourth-grade whizzes master throngs of hard words to spell in front of an entire audience in the school’s gymnasium? And will they grow into successful new-age content writers of the digital era?
Truth be told, no one cares much about spelling hard words today. With autocorrect technology and access to online dictionaries and thesauruses at the tips of almost anyone’s fingers, we take spelling for granted. Besides, who would ever say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?” But should you roll with the old-schoolers and are intrigued by the mystery behind orthography, then stick around. This piece will uncover the unexpected list of most commonly misspelled words. Plus, we’ll decode the science behind spelling and highlight common pitfalls so you too can become a wordsmith, even without Grammarly!
Why Good Spelling is Important
An increasing amount of research has been invested in making spelling more precise. The reasons for spelling accurately supersede acing grades in school. It’s a critical skill required by almost all forms of written communication throughout life. Then there are copywriters, marketers, editors, authors, and Pro-league content writers. Even with the existence of automated spell checkers, mistakes happen. Being able to spell is part of being literate, something that’s a prerequisite for many jobs.
Indeed, we’re blessed today with language-check software like autocorrect and Microsoft Word tools. But it’s important to know that language is a complex part of human nature, and even technology fails from time to time. To be precise, a study revealed that common spell checkers are not absolute in detecting misspellings. Mistakes caught in its net lie within a vast range of 30% to 80% depending on your tool choice. Unfortunately, some misspelled words, grammatical mistakes, and punctuation errors still fall through the system.
The Basics on How to Spell
Although practice breeds greatness, a great speller doesn’t quite rely solely on a photographic memory. To illustrate what happens when you spell, imagine portions of your brain lighting up every time you use it. Science tells us that spelling triggers many parts of the brain’s left hemisphere. While we use long-term memory to recall a word we already know, we rope in other processes for new words. That process includes making sense of the word, breaking it down into syllables, converting them into letters, and then assembling them in the right order. That said, there are a couple of common strategies that we instinctively use to come up with the spelling of a word.
Because the human brain has evolved to intuitively recognize patterns, language essentially taps into our brains’ hierarchical structure. In case you haven’t heard of the pattern theory, it’s what makes spelling possible for individuals who have difficulties processing logic, recalling memories, and making calculations. Approximately 50% of the English language has regular and predictable spelling patterns. An example to demonstrate this are the words sad, sack, safe, and sand. They all pretty much follow a similar sound, and hence, their spellings can be easily predicted. Aside from considering sound patterns, we can also spell better when we understand the repetition of prefixes, suffixes, and consonants. That is why foundations in writing and phonetics play an important role in furthering ambitious spelling endeavors!
Why Hard Words to Spell – Are Hard?
While there are some cheats on taking your spelling bee career further in life, predictably, exceptions exist. Languages are evolved by time, cultural influences, nuances, and well, other languages too. So it’s not surprising that more than 30% of English words result in a misspelling based if it’s conjured solely on sound symbols. Then there’s the other 13% of English language words that are irregular. They are labeled “irregular” because they’re spelled differently from how they sound. Generally speaking, below are categories of anomalies that defy patterns and some often misspelled words.
The Silent Letters
Silent letters are silent killers at spelling bee contests! They make difficult words to spell unachievable without memorizing. In the mind of someone who reads a foreign word that encompasses silent letters, it’s virtually impossible to ascertain their existence. Ditto, those are the tricky ones to look out for because they make guessing and assembling long profound words tough.
To complicate things further, silent letters are broken down into dummy letters, auxiliary letters, and silent consonants. In short, auxiliary letters are odd combinations of letters that cannot be read by a single letter. An example is the “ng” in “song.” Dummy letters in the English language do not correspond to any sound when the word is pronounced. An example of this is the unsaid “t” in “ballet.” Last of all, silent consonants are silent sounds that take place in front of a word. For instance, “k” is not pronounced in “knee,” and “w” is not said in “wreck.” To further illustrate, we’ve provided more examples of silent letters below:
- “d” is not pronounced in “bridge.”
- “ch” is not pronounced in “yacht.”
- “g” is not pronounced in “foreign.”
- “b” is not pronounced in “subtle.”
- “t” is not pronounced in “castle.”
- “k” is not pronounced in “knight.”
The Misspelled Homophones
Homophones are two different words with completely different meanings that sound similar. They take up about 20% of the “misspelling” share. Believe it or not, it’s not just you who hear the words in your head as your type them out. And with the familiarity of spelling patterns, it’s logical for us to construct words with syllables according to what we hear instinctively. That’s the reason why misspelled homophones get even to the best of us and even writers! To add salt to vinegar, most of the time, these misspelled words are not long or “exotic” per se. Instead, they are commonly-used “difficult words to spell” in a whole different way. To demonstrate how easily they get interchangeably misspelled, you can find some homophone misspellings below:
- Weather vs. whether
- Bear vs. bare
- Master vs. muster
- Principal vs. principle
- Bite vs. byte
- Then vs. than
- Hear vs. here
- There vs. dare
- Too vs. to vs. two
The Language Difference
Even though we’re on the topic of hard words to spell, differentiating between dialects plays a huge role in spelling words right too. It’s a factor many novice writers fail to consider, which reflects poorly on their professionalism. Take the English language, for example. There are approximately 160 English dialects around the world. Some versions of English may spell a word the same way, while others spell it differently. For instance, the word for mother is spelled as “mommy” in American and Canadian English, but “mummy” in Australia and the UK. Of course, the word “mummy” can also be referred to as a preserved corpse, and that goes for most English dialects.
While there’s no wrong or right dialect in English spelling, choosing the right spelling does make a difference in content localization. And we all know that localization is king in the world of marketing and branding! As far as determining how good a content writer is when it comes to hard words to spell, consistency is key. Professional writers localize the content according to the audience they are writing for. Unfailingly, they carefully proofread to ensure that the same version of English is kept throughout the piece. So if you’re outsourcing your content to a writer, keep this in mind when picking one!
To help you distinguish between British and US English spellings, here are some commonly misspelled words.
US English vs. British English:
- Color vs. colour
- Humor vs. humour
- Neighbor vs. neighbour
- Analyze vs. analyse
- Traveler vs. traveller
The Misused Apostrophes
Hard words to spell don’t only consist of long strings of letters put together. Consider “You’re amazing.” and “your amazing.” Which is right? While the first can be considered a complete sentence, the second is a sentence fragment. Easy peasy as it might seem here, the words “your” and “you’re” are considered difficult words to spell. Many adults still get them wrong today. Simple everyday words can be misspelled too. So if you’re a budding writer or trying out your hand at DIY copywriting for your new business, look watch out for those apostrophes!
How to Avoid Making Mistakes on Hard Words to Spell
Has any of your writing pieces gotten rejected? Now that we’ve spelled it out for you, is there a particular pitfall you find yourself tripping over? While it’s human to make mistakes, but there are a few ways you can ensure that your final piece is perfect. Here’s how.
Use a Dictionary
You might be thinking “Duh!” on this one, but with the internet being so readily available, it’s easy to get lazy. Dictionaries are handy, especially when you use a word so often that it starts to look wrong. There’s really no shame in flipping through one. Dictionaries fix those “slip-your-mind” moments that happen to the best of us. Plus, it helps put your mind at ease knowing that the word you’ve used really means what you think it means.
We don’t blame you if you find rifling through the vocabulary bible a huge time-consuming hassle. But if you do decide to go paperless, make sure you get your word fix from a reliable vocabulary source. Remember that just about anyone with a computer can put information up on the internet, so choose wisely. We recommend Oxford Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and Collins Dictionary. Oxford’s online dictionary is one of the oldest and provides words in both British and American English. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to go hip with modern words and terminologies, you can try Urban Dictionary out for size.
Use a Spell-Checker
Although spell-checkers do not always have your back, they’re still a useful tool to help pick out obvious blunders. But before you go wild and “accept all changes,” do make sure you have your spell-checker set to the right language preference, such as “American English” or “British English.” Relying a hundred percent on spell-checkers and grammar-check tech is neither wise nor advisable. However, if you’re using them for your first round of proofreading, here are some problems to watch out for.
- They sometimes cannot detect homonym mistakes. Some examples include “past” vs. “pass”, “loose” vs “lose”, and “sight” vs. “site” vs “cite”.
- If you spell something really wrongly, they might not offer you the right spelling suggestions. Here’s when a good old reliable dictionary book helps.
- Expressive communication is fluid. But since technology is not human, it may red-flag words that are actually correct.
Proofread Your Work
Proofreading is imperative for any accomplished writer. And that goes even if you’re using spell checkers. We recommend reading a completed piece at least twice before publishing it anywhere. But of course, the more times you read your work, the better it’ll be. If resources are available, it’s always a good idea to get someone else to proofread your piece. Platforms such as this one employ experienced and professional and human writers who can check your work at affordable rates. That goes for content that has been translated, copywritten pieces, blog articles, or even press releases.
Cast Great Writers for Your Spell
If you have way better things to do than frown at hard words to spell, consider outsourcing! Although it might be a challenge at first, content production will be a breeze once you find the right fit. If you’re on the lookout for reliable writers, try Bunny Studio out for size. Besides being professionally written by vetted writers, every single deliverable is proofread and quality-checked by an extra pair of eyes. You’ll never misspell again. Plus, you’ll also get a dash of creativity and more time to concentrate on other vital tasks for your business.
In a Nutshell
No matter if you “accept” your flaws or feel that writing has been great “except” for your spelling, making mistakes is human. So if you encounter some hard words to spell, you’re not alone but simply on the path to becoming a better writer. But if you feel deforced are lacking mad skills to produce great content, simply outsource!