Spelling errors that make you look like an idiot

November 11, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Writing Basics 

dumb spelling errorsEvery copywriter takes pride in delivering clean, error-free copy. That’s why you proofread, run a spell checker, or use a program such as WhiteSmoke to catch goofs.

But sometimes you can spell a word correctly and still have a spelling mistake when two words are similar and you type the wrong one. Spell checkers never catch these errors. It’s up to you to watch for them.

Here are some of the most commonly confused and misused words.

loose vs. lose

  • My shoelaces always come loose when I jog.
  • It’s embarrassing to explain to my neighbors why I lose my running shoes.

it’s vs. its

  • It’s time to have another long meeting with management.
  • Management never understands why its employees never get anything done.

they’re vs. there

  • Dad just had heart surgery, but they’re planning a surprise party anyway.
  • After we all yelled “surprise,” the ambulance took Dad to the hospital over there.

effect vs. affect

  • When you wear those jodhpers, the effect is less than masculine.
  • I told you those jodhpers would affect your social life!

you’re vs. your

  • Danny, you’re going to get sick if you put hot sauce in your cereal.
  • Now I’ll have to call your dad and tell him your stomach is upset.

lay vs. lie

  • Cutting down that tree made me so tired I have to lie down.
  • Sorry about the tree landing on your house. Just lay the broken window over there and I’ll fix it after my nap.

a lot vs. alot

  • I hate it when people show off with a lot of trivia.
  • “Alot” is not really a word. Well, actually Alot is home to the 5,000-year-old ancestral temple of Shiva in the Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh, India.

who’s vs. whose

  • “Hey! Who’s been eating my candy bars?”
  • “I don’t know whose candy bars these are, but they’re fantastic!”

lets vs. let’s

  • Mary lets her husband fix the plumbing whenever there’s a leak.
  • Let’s not panic. We’ll just bail out the house and replace the carpet.

You can find some excellent proofing and editing tips in the resources area.

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Smart Comments

3 Comments on Spelling errors that make you look like an idiot

  1. SH on Nov 12th, 2009 10:34 am
  2. My pet peeve… I see this abused everywhere…

    “everyday” vs “every day”

    Everyday low prices YES

    Low prices everyday NO…NO….NO!!!!

  3. Dean Rieck on Nov 12th, 2009 10:36 am
  4. SH,
    The sad thing is, most readers won’t know the difference.

  5. Dennis on Apr 13th, 2011 2:44 pm
  6. SH,
    English is not my native language. Will you please explain the difference?