Thursday, February 26, 2015

Common Spelling Mistakes

by Katy White

Like so many writers, I'm a grammarian at heart (and a staunch one, at that), with an editor who is rather more outer than inner. So here are a few common mistakes to avoid when writing:

A lot vs. Alot

This is a common mistake, but also an easy one to remember. Alot isn't a word. Think about it this way: there's no such thing as afew. (Allot, on the other hand, is a word and means something completely different.)

Affect vs. Effect

Affect is a verb meaning to influence or to impact. Effect is nearly always used as a noun meaning a result or consequence. When using effect as a verb, use it when you mean "to bring to pass."

All right vs. Alright

This is another easy one. Although spellcheck won't tell you this because it's been beaten into submission, alright isn't a word. After all, alwrong isn't a word, either.

Anyway vs. Anyways

The right word here is anyway (anyways is considered informal dialect). Save yourself the time typing that extra letter.

Blond vs. Blonde

The difference here comes from the french words for a male and female with yellow hair. Blond refers to men. Blonde refers to women.

E.g. vs. I.e.

E.g. is short for "exe mpli gratia," a latin term meaning "for example." I.e., on the other hand, means "id est," which is short for, "that is to say." Use them accordingly.

Lay vs. Lie

In present tense, lie means to be in a resting/horizontal position. Lay means to put something down in that same state. So you lie down or you lay your head down. The past and past participle are where it gets tricky. So follow this chart:

These are just a few words and tricks to remember. What common mistakes do you see in writing?


  1. Here's how I teach people to remember the e.g./i.e. distinction:

    E.g. means "for EGsample."
    I.e. means "In Ether [other] words."

    Good work on a nice short summary of some super common mistakes! (And I would totally add "than/then" to the list of common problems.)

  2. I feel like "alright" has evolved its way into regular English usage, and I'm okay with that. (I feel the same way about "snuck". Can't we just make it the official irregular past tense form of "sneak" and get rid of the awkward "sneaked" altogether? But I digress.) It would be used synonymously with "okay". As in "Alright, people, let's get this party started!" Although, I suppose if you ask "Are you okay?" you are asking if the person is "all right". But I'd still want to use the "alright" spelling. I mean, if I can use "altogether" and "although" in my above comments, why can't I use "alright"? It's the same spelling combination. P.S. The Grammarly spell check program I have installed on Chrome had no problem with "alright" but didn't like "synonymously". Go figure.

  3. Yes yes yes I am so with you here, you could add then and than as well I often get confused about those words



Related Posts with Thumbnails