I Feel Sorry for These Words

I should start off by saying that I try really hard not to be picky about typos in the informal written word (email, text, blogs, etc). There’s almost certainly a typo somewhere in this post.

However, there are a few words I often see–not just on the internet, but also on TV and in books–that consistently feature a common mistake. I feel a little sorry for these words:

  • Is: There’s a grammatical standard in main-words up titles that most words–including verbs–have a capitalized first letter. However, it’s extremely common to see “is” not capitalized in such titles, probably because it’s so short (e.g., “What is Your Favorite Movie of 2021?”). But “is” is one of the most important verbs! It deserves the same capitalization of other verbs.
  • Judgment: I completely understand why this word is commonly spelled “judgement”; you’re adding “judge” to “ment,” after all. Plus, UK English retains the “e,” which makes more sense. I’m still surprised by how often I see this misspelled.
  • Acknowledgments: While the reasons for the misspelling are the same as judgment, seeing “acknowledgements” surprises me even more because I often see it printed in books (you’ll now start noticing it) and in the end-credits of TV shows and movies.

Are there any other words you consistently see misspelled, incorrectly capitalized, or misused? There are the classics like peek vs peak, they’re vs their vs there, and your vs you’re. What are some more eclectic examples?

15 thoughts on “I Feel Sorry for These Words”

    • Sorry, it should be “…misspelling are…” instead of “…misspelling art…” right? This was a test wasn’t it?
      For the life of me I always spell calendar “calander” the first time, then spell-check helps me…

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  1. The one that really drives me crazy is “insure” used in place of “ensure”.

    I frequently struggle with and have not been able to get a grasp on comma splices. I put commas everywhere!

    The misspellings that I often get tripped up with are:
    “balence” instead of “balance”
    “nessecarily” vs “necessarily ”
    “grammer” vs “grammar” (Ironic I know)

    Another grammatical rule I recently have learned about is when saying “Jamey, can you join Ben and I’s meeting?”. Apparently this is incorrect (though the Google results come back mixed depending on where I look”. The more correct use is “Jamey, can you join Ben’s and my meeting?”… I THINK! I can’t say for sure because I’m still learning here.

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  2. In my case there are three conditions I mispell things. 1. When I sleep less than six hours a night. This makes me become a misspelling machine. 2. Specific words when I write or type fast, like believe which i will always spell beleive and withdraw which I will just mess up fast writing. 3. When I write a Facebook post. I can write an essay without issues, switch to Facebook and I will have two spelling mistakes in two sentences. It’s like doing something when someone is watching you.

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  3. I am from the UK so one of those really doesn’t count. But I know what you mean it amazes me how many people can’t spell colour correctly.

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  4. Speaking as an English teacher, I can tell you that my students do not know the difference between “lay” and “lie”.

    “Bureaucracy” is a word that a lot of people seem to stuff up.

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  5. Affect versus effect. Second, I have been trying to not end my sentences with prepositions. While this isn’t a spelling error, it’s a grammar error that is far too common that I’m trying to put an end to. (See what I did there? hahaha)

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  6. I really think who/whom need to leave the room! There’s never any ambiguity (or rarely) and I’m sure I get them wrong all the time.

    Not using Oxford/serial comma though does lead to ambiguity and I think more people should use them although I guess this isn’t a typo situation.

    HOWEVER for me the thing I notice most is when hyphens are misused where they should be dashes!

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  7. I came here to mention “Ben and I’s” but I see it’s already been mentioned. As a proud student of nuns, I’ve been conditioned to have a total body reaction to incorrect use of subject and object pronouns, so this one gets to me. Who/whom error is another one that I notice a lot.

    Don’t get me started on “Me and Ben are going to the store.” 🙂

    I’ve been trying to allow myself to be a progressive linguist lately, with mixed success. Language evolves over time, and that means that sometimes the rules change. An example is sentence-ending prepositions. We are taught that they are always bad, but it’s becoming more acceptable, and that rule will probably go away in the future. Because ultimately, the verbal gymnastics required to avoid it are often cumbersome. Same goes for the use of “Literally” to mean “definitely not Literally.” It’s become a way of expressing irony, and is really an acceptable use of the word now.

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  8. It is also interesting how words can be interpreted. When I read the title of this post, I thought that you were going to talk about something that needs to be said, but you thought that it might offend some people, so you were apologising for the words you were about to say!

    In Irish English, our spelling is the same as that in the UK, and so I think that both “judgement” and “acknowdgement” are correct. Also, just like in the UK, most words that finish in “~ize” in US English are spelt “~ise”, like “apologise” (thought I should point that out as I was writing “apologising” above). We also have “colour”, “honour”, “aluminium” and so on, but of course all of these are just differences between Hiberno English and US English rather than spelling or grammatical errors.

    A grammatical error that I come across a lot in Ireland is people saying “done” for “did” or “seen” for “saw”. For example, “I seen that film yesterday” or “I done it before you got here”.

    Reply

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