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Commonly Confused Words - Frequently Misspelled Words

This is a compilation of some of the most frequently misspelled, commonly confused and easily misused words around. Some are just words that are highly susceptible to misspelling. Others are homonyms that look or sound similar to one another, but have different meanings.

In an era of email, instant messaging, pagers, and cell phone text messaging, correct spelling and grammar, proper capitalization and use of complete sentences has become a thing of the past. The increasing use of Internet and IM acronyms makes it increasingly important for us to recognize the proper use and spelling of many of the most commonly mangled and misused words.

Far too many people blindly accept correction from spell checker software while failing to recognize that they must differentiate between the similar words. With homonyms, since both examples are valid words, your spell checker will not pick up the mistake.

Commonly Confused Words

ACCEPT- to receive
He enthusiastically
accepted the trophy for his winning entry in the contest.

EXCEPT- apart from; excluding; to take or leave out
She had visited every community in Colorado,
except the tiny town of Tincup.


ADVICE- recommendation; guidance
The police officer offered
advice on how best to secure the business.

ADVISE- to offer guidance or wisdom
The former President
advised the Senator to stop lying to voters.


ALL READY- complete; prepared
He was certain it was
all ready for scrutiny, but soon discovered it was still full of errors.

ALREADY- by this time; previously
His book was
already in print when they discovered it wasn't factual.


ALLOWED- permitted; acceptable
Visitors will not be
allowed into the concert without a ticket.

ALOUD- audibly; out loud
Only one person had the nerve to say
aloud what we were all thinking about the corrupt politician.


ALLUSION- an indirect reference
The scholar made an
allusion to William H. Prescott's work.

ILLUSION- a false perception; a magic trick
The
illusion was not convincing, as the cards were visible up his sleeve.


ALTOGETHER- completely; entirely; all in all
The study was full of inaccuracies, although its conclusions weren't
altogether wrong.

ALL TOGETHER- in unison; gathered, with everyone in one place
We were
all together at the book club when we discovered all the typographical errors.


ASCENT- climb
His rapid
ascent in the scientific world was quickly reversed when they discovered he lied in the book.

ASSENT- agreement; consent; concur
The scientist
assented to the scientific review after admitting he falsified the study results.


BARE- exposed; naked; stripped
Once the carpeting was removed, the room looked
bare.

BEAR- to endure; to tolerate; a large, heavy mammal
The lone hiker had to
bear the burden alone when the bear attacked him in the woods.


BOARDER- paying guest in a house
He plans to take in additional
boarders to help cover his rising expenses.

BORDER- boundary or edge, particularly of a geographical region
The bank robber tried to cross the
border to avoid pursuing police.


BRAKE- a mechanical device that causes a vehicle to slow or stop
The driver had to
brake to avoid hitting a dog that had wandered onto the road.

BREAK- to shatter; destroy
He would have to
break all the rules to get elected after he was caught lying again.


BREATH- noun, air inhaled or exhaled
His honesty was a
breath of fresh air.

BREATHE- verb, to inhale or exhale
I will
breathe a sigh of relief when errors in reference books are eliminated.


CAPITAL- an upper case letter; seat of government; assets, funds or financial resources
His company had sufficient
capital to open new facilities in the state capital of Topeka.

CAPITOL- the actual building in which the legislature of a country or state meets
The governor gave a speech on fighting crime at the
capitol.


CENT- a 100th of certain monetary units, such as the dollar; a coin of this value; a penny
Bananas are on sale for just 29
cents a pound.

SENT- past tense and past participle of send
He
sent a postcard, but forgot all about the recent postage increase.

SCENT- a smell; aroma; a clue by which something is tracked or discovered
The
scent was captivating in the perfume bottle, but smelled like rotten onions once applied.

SENSE- any of the five senses; a feeling or perception; sound judgment
He ended up in
Two Egg, Florida, due to his terrible sense of direction.


CITE- refer to; to quote; document
The research paper would ultimately
cite twelve sources that were later proven not to exist.

SIGHT- vision; spectacle
The snow-covered peaks surrounding Mammoth Mountain are a
sight to behold.

SITE- location; position; place
The
site of the new bank will be just down the street from its current location.


COMPLEMENT- something that completes; brings to perfection; is in harmony with
The wine
complemented the lavish feast.

COMPLIMENT- an expression of praise or flattery
She received many
compliments on her new book, until they discovered it was all plagiarized.


CONSCIENCE- principles; a sense of right and wrong; ethics
The politician claimed his
conscience kept him from cheating on his wife.

CONSCIOUS- awake; aware; cognizant
Both passengers remained
conscious following the auto accident.


COUNCIL- a group that consults or advises
The city
council voted unanimously to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants.

COUNSEL- to advise
The student was
counseled before deciding which course she would take.


DAM- a barrier built to hold back water
The entire valley flooded when the
dam collapsed.

DAMN- to condemn; to not care at all
Frankly my dear, I don't give a
damn.


DESERT- arid region; abandon
Contrary to popular belief, many
deserts are teeming with plant and animal life.

DESSERT- a sweet course served at the end of a meal
The easiest way to differentiate the spelling of these two words, is to remember that you always want two servings of that scrumptious
dessert. The scorching desert is spelled with just one "s" but that delicious dessert is spelled with two.


ELICIT- to draw out; to bring out
The police officer tried to
elicit the truth from the unresponsive suspect.

ILLICIT- illegal
The disgraced mayor refused to admit his part in the
illicit activities.


EMINENT- famous; renowned; respected
The
eminent surgeon was fired after he removed a kidney from the wrong patient.

IMMANENT- inherent; intrinsic; present everywhere
The meaning of the sonnet was
immanent, but not easily recognized.

IMMINENT- about to happen; ready to take place
A fight between the talk show guests was
imminent from the moment they walked out on stage.


FLAIR- style; stylishness; panache
The room was decorated with great
flair.

FLARE- a burst of light; an outward curve to a shape
Police placed a
flare in the road to warn approaching motorists of the auto accident.


FLEW- past tense of fly
The geese
flew over the lake without stopping.

FLU- influenza
She caught the
flu after failing to get her annual flu shot.

FLUE- a pipe or enclosed passage that conveys smoke or exhaust
The
flue needs to be cleaned before the cold winter weather arrives.


FOR- with the purpose of; in favor of; on behalf of; instead of
He searched
forJot 'Em Down, Texas on the list of bizarre U.S. town names.

FORE- toward the front; first in order; a warning calling attention to a errant golf ball
President Ford shouted "fore" to warn the golf course spectators they were in danger of being struck by his wayward golf ball.

FOUR- the cardinal number between three and five; 4; IV
The price they were charging was actually
four dollars more than the advertised sale price.


FORMALLY- officially; in a polite, mannered fashion
The Governor
formally signed into law a new ordinance on jaywalking.

FORMERLY- previously; in the past
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
formerly known as the INS, opened its new headquarters today.


HEAR- to perceive sound
He claimed he could
hear the footsteps of approaching zombies.

HERE- at this place; at this point in time
Although there was no evidence to support his claim, the frantic man continued to insist zombies had been right
here in this room.


INTERMENT- burial
His
interment at the local cemetery was interrupted when his casket was found to be filled with gold.

INTERNMENT- imprisonment; confinement
In times of war, individuals classified as "enemy aliens" have occasionally been placed in
internment camps by some countries.


ITS- of, or belonging to
The book and
its author were both found to be lacking in credibility.

IT'S- contraction for "it is"
It's going to take months before all the errors are documented.


LEAD- (noun) a type of metal
He had
lead poisoning from all the old paint he consumed.

LEAD- (verb) guide; show the way
The outdoorsman will
lead the hikers from Lake Mary, up to Duck Lake.

LED- (verb) past tense of the verb "to lead"
The criminal
led his victims into the woods, before forcing them at gunpoint to clean his cabin.


LOSE- to misplace; be defeated; not win
He was certain to
lose the election because of the infamous video.

LOOSE- not tight; baggy
The lawyer's pants were so
loose that they actually fell to his ankles, causing him to trip and fall.


MAIN- the most important; largest
Roast beef was the
main dish at dinner.

MANE- long, heavy hair on the back of or around the neck of a horse or lion; a person's long hair
The horse had a beautiful braided
mane.


PAIN- a feeling of being hurt; suffering
He was in great
pain following the accident.

PANE- a single sheet of glass in a division of a window
The
pane of glass no longer leaked after it was caulked.


PASSED- to go by; to have moved
He was killed as he
passed the truck on a blind curve.

PAST- belonging to a earlier time; long-ago
In the
past he had been a respectable attorney, but was disbarred after he tried to bribe a judge.


PEAK- mountaintop; summit
It was at the
peak of his political career that he accepted the bride from Tony Soprano.

PEEK- glance; sneak a quick look
The video clearly showed the man
peeking in his neighbor's window.

PIQUE- (Noun) resentment at being slighted; (Verb) to arouse curiosity
His curiosity was
piqued when he saw what appeared to be a photo of aliens with their landing craft.


PRECEDE- to come before
The King always
precedes his entourage.

PROCEED- to go forward; carry on
He would
proceed with the task, though he knew it was a lost cause.


PRINCIPAL- a person who has authority; primary; most important
The popular high school
principal, later became the district superintendent.

PRINCIPLE- a fundamental truth; the original source; integrity
He was a man of
principle.


RAIN- precipitation in the form of water
The mosquitoes will soon be out in force, as a result of all the
rain we've had lately.

REIGN- period of a monarch's rule; the act of presiding over a country or group
The King's
reign ended abruptly when he was killed in battle.

REIN- the strap used to control a horse (usually plural)
He frantically pulled the
reins to stop the runaway horse.


ROLE- one's position; a part in the theatre, movies or television
Angela Lansbury played the role of Jessica Fletcher, on the long-running television series, Murder, She Wrote.

ROLL- revolve; turn over
The car
rolled several times before coming to rest on its roof.


STALKING- to relentlessly pursue without being detected
The convict resorted to
stalking the woman, after she repeatedly rebuffed his vulgar, unwanted advances.

STOCKING- close-fitting hosiery; nylons
Her new silk
stockings perfectly accented her glamorous attire.


STATIONARY- motionless; standing still
Contrary to the Senator's testimony, the police report indicated his car was not
stationary at the time of the accident.

STATIONERY- writing paper and envelopes
She purchased office supplies downtown at the new
stationery store.


THAN- used with comparisons
I'd rather hear the truth, no matter how unpleasant,
than some preposterous lie.

THEN- at that time; after that
He signed the ethics bill,
then went and spent the night with his mistress.


THEIR- possessive form of they
Their scientific study was full of inaccuracies and falsified data.

THERE- indicates location; in attendance
He went
there to do some research on former U.S. Secretary of State John W. Foster.

THEY'RE- contraction for "they are"
They're going to fire him because he faked patient data in the medical study.


THROUGH- from side to side; into or out of
Passing
through the tunnel is quicker than ever, now that time warp technology is used to move traffic.

THRU- abbreviated slang for through; NOT appropriate in standard writing
When will he be
thru with this endless lecture?

THREW- past tense of throw
The politician
threw a punch at the reporter when informed his marital indiscretion had been caught on tape.

THOROUGH- methodical; careful; complete
The doctor gave his patient a
thorough examination.

THOUGH- however; nevertheless
The mayor was caught repeatedly lying,
though his constituents still reelected him to two additional terms.


TO- toward; in the direction of; on the way to
She went
to the library to get a copy of To Build a Fire by Jack London.

TOO- also; in addition; excessively
There are far
too many errors on the Web.

TWO- the number 2
"
The Barefoot Boy" and "Barbara Frietchie" are two of John Greenleaf Whittier's most celebrated poems.


WAIT- to delay or put off; to stop doing something; to serve customers
How long will we have to
wait in this long line?

WEIGHT- the amount an object weighs; the burden of care or responsibility
A healthy diet and exercise can help control your
weight.


WAY- direction; a style, manner or fashion
Which
way is the airport?

WEIGH- to measure by weight
She will
weigh the apples before going to the cashier.

WHEY- watery liquid that separates from curd when milk coagulates
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and
whey;
Along came a spider,
And sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.


WHO'S- contraction of "who is" "who was" or "who has"
Who's going to wash the dirty windows?

WHOSE- belonging to
Whose car is parked in my parking space?


YOU'RE- contraction of "you are"
You're barking up the wrong tree if you think you're and your are interchangeable.

YOUR- belonging to; done by you
Our records indicate that this is
your car.


I before E, except after C

Always keep the following in mind:

I before E
Except after C
Or when it sounds like "A" as in neighbor and weigh
Or when it sounds like "I" as in Einstein

There are many exceptions, but it's still a valuable rule to memorize.


Commonly misspelled "ie" and "ei" words

A few of the more difficult "ie" and "ei" words:

Agencies, ancient, believe, conscience, deficiencies, efficient, efficiencies, field, friend, policies, priest, science, shield, siege, sufficient, yield.

Being, caffeine, ceiling, conceited, conceive, deceit, Eileen, Einstein, einsteinium, either, foreign, foreigner, forfeit, forfeiture, heifer, height, heir, leisure, neighbor, neither, perceive, protein, receive, receipt, seize, seizure, sheikh, sleigh, sleight, stein, their, transceiver, vein, weigh, weight, weir, weird, weirdo, zeitgeist.


Other commonly misspelled words

A - absence, abundance, accelerate, accessible, accidentally, acclaim, accommodate, accomplish, accordion, accumulate, achievement, acquaintance, acquire, acquit, across, address, advertisement, aficionado, aggravate, alleged, amateur, annual, anoint, apology, apparent, appearance, argument, atheist, athletics, attendance, auxiliary, axle.

B - balloon, barbecue, barbiturate, bargain, basically, beggar, beginning, believable, believe, biscuit, bouillon, boundary, Britain, broccoli, Buddha, business.

C - calendar, camouflage, cantaloupe, carburetor, Caribbean, cartilage, category, cemetery, chagrined, challenge, characteristic, changing, chauvinism, chief, chili, chocolaty, cigarette, climbed, coliseum, collectible, colonel, colossal, column, congratulations, coming, commemorate, committee, commitment, comparative, competent, completely, concede, conceive, condemn, condescend, conscientious, conscious, consciousness, consensus, consistent, continuous, controlled, coolly, corollary, convenient, correlate, correspondence, counselor, courteous, courtesy, criticize.

D - daiquiri, Dalmatian, deceive, defendant, deferred, definite, dependent, descend, desiccate, description, desirable, despair, desperate, deterrence, develop, development, difference, dilemma, dining, diorama, disappear, disappearance, disappoint, disastrous, discipline, disease, dispensable, dissatisfied, dissipate, dominant, drunkenness, dumbbell.

E - easily, ecstasy, efficiency, eighth, either, eligible, embarrass, emperor, enemy, entirely, equipped, equivalent, especially, exaggerate, exceed, excellence, excellent, exercise, exhaust, exhilarate, existence, expense, experience, experiment, explanation, extremely, exuberance.

F - Fahrenheit, fallacious, fallacy, familiar, fascinate, feasible, fictitious, fiery, finally, financially, flabbergast, fluorescent, forcibly, foreign, forfeit, formerly, foresee, forty, fourth, fulfill, fundamentally.

G - gauge, generally, genius, government, governor, grammar, grievous, guarantee, guerrilla, guidance, guttural.

H - handkerchief, happily, harass, height, heinous, hemorrhage, heroes, hesitancy, hindrance, hoarse, hoping, horrific, humorous, hypocrisy, hypocrite.

I - ideally, idiosyncrasy, ignorance, imaginary, imitate, immediately, implement, incidentally, incredible, independence, independent, inadvertent, incredible, independent, indicted, indispensable, inevitable, influential, information, ingenious, inoculate, insurance, intelligence, intercede, interference, interrupt, introduce, irascible, irrelevant, irresistible, island.

J - jealousy, judgment, judicial, judiciary, judicious.

K - kaleidoscope, knowledge.

L - laboratory, legitimate, leisure, length, lenient, liaison, license, lieutenant, lightning, likelihood, likely, liquefy, longitude, loneliness, losing, lovely, luxury.

M - magazine, maintain, maintenance, manageable, maneuver, marriage, marshmallow, mathematics, medicine, medieval, memento, millennium, millionaire, miniature, minuscule, minutes, mischief, mischievous, misogyny, missile, misspell, misspelled, mortgage, mosquito, mosquitoes, murmur, muscle, mysterious.

N - narrative, naturally, nauseous, necessary, necessity, neighbor, neutron, ninety, ninth, noticeable, nowadays, nuisance.

O - obedience, obstacle, occasion, occasionally, occurred, occurrence, octopus, official, omission, omit, omitted, onomatopoeia, opinion, opponent, opportunity, oppression, optimism, ordinarily, origin, outrageous, overrun.

P - panicky, parallel, parliament, particularly, pastime, pavilion, peaceable, peculiar, penetrate, peninsula, perceive, performance, permanent, permissible, permitted, perseverance, persistence, pharaoh, physical, physician, picnicking, piece, pigeon, pilgrimage, pistachio, pitiful, plagiarize, planning, pleasant, poinsettia, portray, possess, possessive, potato, potatoes, practically, prairie, precede, preference, preferred, prejudice, preparation, prescription, presumptuous, prevalent, primitive, privilege, probably, procedure, proceed, professor, prominent, pronounce, pronunciation, propaganda, propagate, psychology, publicly, pursue.

Q - quandary, quarantine, questionnaire, quizzes.

R - raspberry, realistically, realize, really, recede, receipt, receive, recognize, recommend, reference, referred, refrigerator, relevant, relieving, religious, remembrance, reminiscence, renowned, repetition, representative, resemblance, reservoir, resistance, restaurant, rheumatism, rhythm, rhythmical, ridiculous, roommate.

S - sacrilegious, sacrifice, safety, salary, satellite, savvy, scary, scenery, schedule, secede, secretary, seize, sensible, sentence, separate, septuagenarian, sergeant, several, shepherd, sheriff, shining, shish kebab, siege, similar, simile, simply, sincerely, skiing, soliloquy, sophomore, sorcerer, souvenir, specifically, specimen, spinach, sponsor, spontaneous, statistics, stopped, strategy, strength, strenuous, stubbornness, subordinate, subpoena, subtle, succeed, success, succession, sufficient, supersede, suppress, surprise, surround, susceptible, suspicious, syllable, symmetrical, synonymous.

T - tangible, technical, technique, temperature, tendency, themselves, theories, therefore, thorough, though, threshold, through, till, tomorrow, tournament, tourniquet, transferred, truly, twelfth, tyranny.

U - ukulele, unanimous, undoubtedly, unnecessary, until, usage, usually.

V - vacuum, valuable, vengeance, vicious, vigilant, village, villain, violence, visible.

W - warrant, Wednesday, weird, wherever, wholly.

Y - yacht, yarmulke, yield.

Z - Zaire, zealous, zoology, zucchini.

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