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Learn about some of the most common types of spelling mistakes and how to correct them. Read the lesson and take a brief quiz to test your new skills.

Spelling Mistakes Happen

Everyone makes spelling mistakes at one time or another. Mistakes can be caused by not taking the time to proofread or lack of knowledge about what the correct spellings are, and other times it’s from confusion about usage. The examples shown below will help you stay on the right track.

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Spelling Mistakes and Homophones

Homophones are one of the main causes of spelling mistakes. A homophone is a word that sounds like other words, but is spelled differently. One of the best ways to remember the correct spelling is to consider their usage in the sentence, as shown in these examples:

their, there, they’re

The neighbors are on their lawn. (‘Their’ is a pronoun.)We haven’t ever been there. (‘There’ is a place.)They’re coming over to our house tomorrow.

(‘They’re’ is a contraction for they are.)

through, threw

He threw out the garbage. (‘Threw’ is past tense of the verb to throw.)I drove through a small town. (‘Through’ can mean physically going from one side to another, or it can mean finished, as in ‘I’m through now.


to, too, two

Charles is going to work now. (‘To’ is an article.)I am going to work, too.

(‘Too’ means also.)The two of us work late hours. (‘Two’ is a number.)

use to, used to

I used to shop at that store. (‘Used to’ is a habit done in the past.)This is the car I’ll use to drive to the shore. (‘Use to’ is a verb meaning to utilize something in the present.


break and brake

I’ll need a break before going back to work. (‘Break’ means to separate or interrupt.)This car needs a new set of brakes. (‘Brake’ is a mechanism for slowing down or stopping.)

complement, compliment

That pink blouse complements your gray pants. (‘Complement’ means to make complete or makes perfect.

)My instructor gave me a compliment on my essay. (‘Compliment’ means to give praise.)

advice, advise

Diane gave him great advice.

(‘Advice’ means to give recommendation.)The doctor will advise you about which exercises work best. (‘Advise’ is a verb that means counsel.)

affect, effect

This medicine has a long list of side effects. (‘Effect’ is a noun that means result.

)The amount of sunlight affects the way some people feel. (‘Affect is a verb that means influence.’)

accept, except

I accept your decision. (‘Accept’ means to receive what’s offered.)I like everything except that.

(‘Except’ means all but what is excluded.)

Stationery, stationary

This stationery is made of the finest paper. (‘Stationery’ is paper.)The man’s head remained stationary while the surgeon worked on him. (‘Stationary’ means not moveable.)

its, it’s

It’s hot in here.

(‘It’s’ is a contraction for it is.)The car is parked in its place. (‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun.)

Other Common Mistakes

‘Could of, would of, should of’ should all be spelled ‘could have, would have, should have.”Accomodate’ should be spelled ‘accommodate.”Recieve’ should be spelled ‘receive.

”Than’ and ‘then’ (than is a comparison to something; then refers to a time in the past or future.)

Spelling Correctly with -ible and -able

Words like ‘laughable’ and ‘incredible’ are misspelled sometimes because of their suffixes. The general rule is to use -able if the word can stand on its own without the suffix, as in laughable, and -ible if it can’t, as in incredible.

Learning Outcomes

Once you’ve completed this lesson, you’ll be able to:

  • Define homophone
  • Describe common spelling mistakes and how to correct them

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