How to Avoid Common Spelling Mistakes


Many highly intelligent people who have a lot of good things to say get overlooked because of spelling errors. Only a handful of mistakes, no matter how small, can make readers think the writer isn’t competent. Here are a few tips about the most common mistakes in English spelling and how to get them right.

1.“There”, “their” and “they’re” all sound alike, but each one means something different from the others. These three words are a good place to start.

  • “There” indicates a place. Tips: You can tell because it contains the word “here” that is another place. Here and there is a pair of words that indicate places. “There” means that something is in a certain area.
  • “Their” means “something that belongs to them”. Tips: It contains “heir”. An heir is someone who has inherited something, so An heir is someone who owns something. ‘T’ plus ‘heir’ equals their. “Their” is a possessive pronoun.
  • “They’re” means “they are”. In fact, it is just a compound version of the two-word phrase. The apostrophe (‘) shows that a letter (the letter being “a” in “they’re”) has been removed and replaced by the apostrophe.

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2.”Two”, “to” and “too” are also three different words that sound alike.

  • First is “to”. It usually indicates going somewhere, so “go” and “to” each have just one “o” and one different letter. “To” is used as a preposition and infinitive phrase conjunction.
  • “Too” means an excessive amount of something, such as “It’s too hard to learn all the rules of English spelling.” Tips: You can tell it’s the right “too” for this job, because it has too many “o’s” in it. The “to” with the extra “o” means “excessive”.
  • “Two” is the number 2.There isn’t really a way to help you remember why the “w” is in there, except that you can always think “Why am I spelling this Word out instead of just using the numeral?” When you are writing an essay or legal paperwork, spell out “two” unless they tell you to do specifically. However, when you are writing elsewhere, you can use two.

3.Here’s the hardest one: Which “its” gets an apostrophe? By the standard rules of English, “its” is a possessive pronoun. “It’s” is a contraction, meaning that it means “it is”. Do not use “it’s” like this: It’s dog has gone.” This translates into: “It is dog has gone.”

  • When the word is supposed to mean “it is”, but you want to write “it’s”, use the apostrophe. When something belongs to “it”, leave the apostrophe out. Using “its” and “it’s” properly will make your writing look smarter and help to maintain people’s attention better.

4.“Write”/ “right” and “tried”/”tired” are two more pairs of words that sound the same but have different spellings for different meanings. These are homophones.

  • “Write” means to inscribe or pencil in, or to write with a pencil. “Right” mean correct, and can also be the opposite of left.
  • “Tried” means to have made an effort, and “tired” means being exhausted or fatigued.
  • Also, “loose” means the opposite of tight, and “lose” is the opposite of win and the opposite of found.
  • “One” is the number 1 and “won” is the opposite of lost, meaning victory.

5.Dictionaries are valuable things: Invest in one! Happy spelling!


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Note: This article has been adapted from the following source.


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