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10 Most Common Mistakes


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(1) Lose and Loose

Lose is the opposite of win.

Loose is the opposite of tight.

(2) Weird not Wierd

You probably have heard of the rule "i before e except after c".

Well, the word "Weird" is so weird that it doesn't follow that rule.

(3) Their, They're, There

Their is used to show possession. (Their house is so big.)

They're is a contraction for they + are. (They are very mysterious.)

There has many usages. If their and they're sounds wrong, then there is most likely the word you're looking for. (Look over there! There is a UFO hovering above their house!)

(4) Your and You're

Your refers to your own possession. (Your pet mouse ate my clothes again.)

You're is a contraction of you + are. (You are going to pay for the damages.)

(5) It's and Its

It's is a contraction of it + is. (It's not alright to climb the Empire State Building and swat at planes.)

Its refers to a thing's possession. (That thing is dangerous. Its black fur looks cozy though.)

(6) Definitely not Definately

It definitely doesn't have an A in it.

(7) Effect and Affect

Affect is a verb.

Effect is a noun.

Just keep this in mind, if the word can end with -s, -ed, -ing. Then it's definitely the A one (Affect).

(8) Weather and Whether

Weather describes the atmosphere, usually of our own planet - Earth.

Whether is used when there is a choice between alternatives.

Just think of it this way, if you can spell the word Earth using its letter, then that word is the one that describes the Earth's atmosphere.

(9) A lot not alot

You don't say abundle, abunch, or alittle. So don't say alot.

(10) Then and Than

Then is used to describe time. (I logged out then went to bed.)

Than is used for comparison. (I'm lazier than my cat.)

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I'm guilty of misspelling weird myself, and without spellcheck, I'd probably continue on making the same mistake. I only noticed myself making this mistake recently too and it's made me wonder how many writings out there I have with a misspelled word.

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These are definitely some common errors made in English. I have certainly caught myself a few times on some of them. It's not that I wasn't aware of the correct word or spelling either, it just happened. Maybe it was an error I made as a child and it's still in my brain but double checking always payoffs most times.

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  • 1 month later...

I admit that I consider myself a Grammar Nazi, but I am still guilty of spelling of these. I misspell some of these words especially when I am in a hurry. What's horrifying sometimes is that I write speeches for public officials. One mistake that I committed was misspelling public as pubic. Suffice it to say that I am fortunate that my boss has a sense of humor.

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It might be easier for a fluent non-native speaker to avoid all those spelling mistakes than it is for a native speaker. I know I never use the wrong word in each of the pairs you listed.

Probably this happens because I first encountered those words in their written form, and then used them in everyday language. A native speaker, on the other hand, hears them constantly even before he starts reading, and thanks to the pronunciation "quirks" of English it's easy to mistake them because they sound quite similar. And once a mistake is stuck in your head it can be hard to correct.

I believe it happens less often in languages where there is a more regular correlation between letters and phonemes. In Italian, for instance, the most common words are rarely misspelled. Misspellings happen mainly in tricky cases, like accents and apostrophes.

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There was once when I completed a document and stared at it, finding no mistakes with 'spell check', yet feeling something was wrong. It was 'Weather'. Sometimes these things do happen. I've made mistakes when I have actually rechecked a document in a word processor, like modifying the its to it's, quite unconsciously. The same goes for lose and loose. But it mostly happens in long documents, when you are already tired and want to give up for the day. Or short boring ones.

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  • 4 weeks later...

#9 was always my honest mistake before. I used to say, "There's alot of food in the table," and because it sounds right, I didn't think it was wrong.  Well, thank you so much for this!  It would help me a lot.  :smile:

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  • 3 weeks later...

When it comes to spelling mistakes being made by other persons, I usually let it pass because I can understand the fact that English is not their first language.  However, I'll admit that I get ticked off whenever I go through written texts with obvious spelling mistakes.  The word "wierd" is already weird, since it is not only a spelling mistake but also a definition of being unable to spell correctly.  "Alot" is just like "irregardless," and I was once guilty of using irregardless a couple of times.

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I completely agree that the words listed are often confused with each other. I also agree with someone who pointed out that mostly native speakers commit this for the reason that they first learned of these words through hearing and all of them sound so similar that it's pretty understandable that misspelling them occur unintentionally.

But careful with #7's affect. This one will have to depend on the context.

This word can also be a 'noun' which means  = the conscious subjective aspect of an emotion considered apart from bodily changes; also :  a set of observable manifestations of a subjectively experienced emotion <patients … showed perfectly normal reactions and affects — Oliver Sacks> (taken from Merriam Webster)

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I think that many of us confuse these words often, English speaking people make these mistakes on a regular basis.

My mistake with spelling errors is with lose and loose and another one is quiet, quiete.

I always seem to spell these incorrectly and obviously the meanings are completely different.

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  • 2 months later...

Add the genitive here. People often make mistakes when it comes to adding 's.

Assassin's - it's only one assassin and something belongs to him

Assassin's Blade, for example.

Assassins' - plural:

Assassins' Cave

And if you have a long phrase, especially with ''of phrase genitive'' (King of Spain, my old friend, his big sister) you add genitive to the whole phrase, not the head or nominal expression:

King of Spain's sceptre, my old friend's daughter, his big sister's friends

NOT *King's of Spain sceptre

Two genitives may be clumsy...

Heidi's mother's lipstick - the lipstick of Heidi's mother

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