Top Spelling Blunders Part II

It’s spreading! Run for your grammatical lives!

While emoticons and text-speak have their place in the instant messaging world (e.g. LOL b4 u go dont u hve 2 rite ur arcles? :P), readers don’t warm-up to it in articles.

Good grammar and correct spelling are paramount to your success as a credible author. That’s why we collected the most common spelling mistakes in order to help you maintain your credibility and build confidence in your writing skills.

Let’s get to it: Here are your next 5 spelling blunders you can include in your proofreading checklist to assure your credibility is untarnished!

Payed vs. Paid

It may be argued that payed is acceptable due to its traces to Middle English (between the 11th and the late 15th century). However, if we were speaking Middle English, we’d still be using thou and thy.

The confusion often occurs when you try to form the simple past by adding a d or ed to the root of a regular verb (e.g. collect becomes collected). The word pay is not your everyday verb. Pay is an irregular verb or a verb that doesn’t follow the standard conjugation. Bottomline: Pay becomes paid (past simple and past participle) and not payed.

Example: I paid a visit to my neighbor and then I paid my bills.

Key: Ease irregularity by putting pay in the past – drop the y and add an id to form paid.

Withing vs. Within

If you are scratching your head on this one, welcome to the club. Withing is the act of weaving stems or twigs twisted to form a rope called a withe. However, digging into the issue we discovered for every occurrence of withing, the author intended to use the word within (meaning: inside or indoors).

Example: Inquire within.

Key: Your article writing twin is within.

Reoccurrence vs. Recurrence

The correct word in this instance is recurrence, which means to happen repeatedly or to return. The mix-up lies in occurrence, meaning an incident or something that happens. To make an occurrence happen again and again, we need the prefix re. However, in proper English, we drop the o and the first c before we tack on the re, to form recurrence.

Example: The lack of respect for the apostrophe is a recurrence I cannot bear.

Key: Why enjoy it once? Drop the oc and make it a smashing recurrence!

Doesnt vs. Doesn’t

A contraction is the process of becoming smaller (or when a muscle becomes or is made shorter and tighter). In the English language, a contraction is commonly represented by an apostrophe, i.e. do not becomes don’t and let us becomes let’s.

The correct contraction of the phrase does not is doesn’t. Doesnt isn’t an acceptable word in the English language.

Example: He doesn’t have a pen.

Key: Doesn’t it look good to use an apostrophe!

Definately vs. Definitely

Definately: This blunder is a surefire way to upset the grammar police. The correct word here is definitely, which means without a doubt or clearly and is often used for emphasis.

Let’s break this down: Definitely

  • The prefix de: down, away, completely, removal, or reversal (e.g. derail, decrease, defunct, defrost, etc.).
  • Finite: having limits, the opposite of infinite.
  • Finate: not a word.

Example: He will definitely spell correctly in the future!

Key: The ape ate the ite in definitely!

Definitely stop the recurrence of these blunders: within, doesn’t, and paid!

It has been said if you repeat something 7 times, you can commit it to memory. Commit these 5 words to memory by writing them down 7 times (correctly) and say each letter out loud as you write. That’s easy!

There will be more spelling blunders over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for our spelling keys to ensure your articles are error free. Doing so will increase your credibility and drive more traffic to your blog or website!

Did you miss our last edition of Top Spelling Blunders? Check out the top 5 here!


Dane Fletcher writes:

Can’t forget the Loose vs Lose & To vs Too

Those are also grammatical errors seen way too often.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM


David Haines writes:

Dane, I agree with you that To vs Too happens more times than I can count.

Thanks for pointing that one out so I didn’t have to.



Vijay Khosla writes:

Reading this article is fun as well as good education. I look forward to the next series of lessons.


Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM


Dave McKay writes:

I don’t think I have ever come across “withing” for “within”, whereas I rarely come across “a lot” spelled as two words. In fact the occurence of this error is becoming so common that I fear it may one day be accepted as okay to spell it as “alot”. Where does it come on your list?

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 11:56 AM


Dave –

You’re right, using the non-word “alot” in place of “a lot” is high on the list of common spelling/grammar errors. It’s so prevalent that our editors will actively seek it out and fix it when they are reviewing an article. However, you won’t see it in one of our upcoming “Top Spelling Blunders” posts for the simple reason that we covered it just recently in this post:

– Marc


Jiles Halling writes:

My understanding is that whence does NOT require the word ‘From’ added to it
‘He has returned whence he came’ NOT ‘from whence he came’ (Whence already means’ from where’)

Insurgency, Competency, Ascendency
What’s wrong with Insurgence and Competence, Ascendence ( or Ascendent as in ‘ In the ascendent, NOT in the ascendency)?

Surely these are perfectly good words that exist already

We say ‘resurgence’, not ‘resurgency’ and emergence ( Emergency is something quite different)

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM


Opal Marrs writes:

Spelling and grammar are so closely associated. Some of the top 5 have to do with grammar as well as with spelling. Since those who are avid readers and who have been writing for several years probably learned their main knowledge of grammar and spelling in middle or high school, it might be helpful to those who feel that they are not good spellers to refer to a good high school grammar text which will help with grammar and sentence structure by emphasizing diagramming sentences and also cure some spelling problems. Of course, the spell check on the computer is quicker, but it misses some too. Most of my editing is because I type very fqast and hit the wrong key once in awhile. Again the computer tells me and I can correct as I go. Isn’t technology wonderful?

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM


Opal Marrs writes:

See what I mean – should have been fast in last comment. You just can’t depend on machines alone.
You have to edit.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 1:04 PM


Delva Rebin writes:

I agree with Opal that often a spelling error is actually a grammar or word use problem. Among my dis-favorites is the use of ‘effect’ rather than ‘affect’ eg. “I hope this doesn’t effect your mood.” While effect is a perfectly legitimate verb, this is not its proper use; yet, I see this regularly in newspaper articles.

One of the broader difficulties, of course, with online writing is American vs British/Canadian spelling. Take the whole ‘-ice’ ‘-ise’ family such as practice/practise or licence/license — right now, my spell check is telling me that both practise and licence are incorrect, yet, where I am, they are both words we use every day. It makes it very difficult to write for an international audience.

Love your blunders series and look forward to additional editions.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM


Niall Douglas writes:

Some of the errors drive me mad. There and their in particular. I will also never trust a business that uses 4 instead of for.

Great read, I only wish more people would take heed.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 3:57 PM


Russell Hamel writes:

My pet peeve is “Taken to hospital”. What happened to ‘THE’ as in, “Taken to THE hospital”?

When I speak, I don’t say, “I went to hospital.” I say, “I went to THE hospital.”

Same for, “I go to hospital.” NOT! Instead, “I go to THE hospital.”

So why – OH WHY – do I constantly see AND hear – especially in the news, “Taken to hospital.”

Did I say peeve? NOT – Drives me NUTS!

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 4:42 PM


Christina writes:

English may be a funny language, but “taken to hospital,” and “in hospital” are both correct usage, I’m afraid. “Taken to the hospital” wouldn’t make sense anyway, unless the town had only one hospital.



What I see more often than not is the misuse of “Their, There & They’re” — Maybe this can be included in a part 3 of this series.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 5:07 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

One small challenge that I’ve run across is that often the system “calls out” a group of characters as “emoticons” when I attempt to write various foot notes, as Foot Noting often includes such things as ():-;[]”,”.’ and what have you, often one character apart. It makes it tough to follow those rules and also get the system to acept the article. Just a thought here.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 6:24 PM



When coming to grammatical errors, I always remember how meaning changes:
There is a fly in the cup of coffee
There is fly in a cup of coffee
There is the fly in the cup of coffee
Change of meaning when articles changes position.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 6:37 PM


Changis writes:

Also add the often misused “your” when it should be “you’re” to the list.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 7:04 PM



That was really a good article, fun to read. I still see people using ‘Loose’ instead of lose. New age people are more addicted in making mistakes trying to type fast and using abbreviations even for short words like ‘will’ they write ‘wll’. And another common error is switching of words ‘weather’ & ‘whether’. Some are smart enough to avoid such words and write ‘wthr’.

Comment provided January 13, 2012 at 10:54 PM


Carl writes:

Hey Dave, I agree with you on alot versus a lot. In fact I am very guilty on this one. I am continuously correcting myself to use “a lot”

Another great article Marc.

Comment provided January 14, 2012 at 12:12 AM


Eapen writes:

I think we can get rid of all these spelling and grammatical mistakes by using a good word processor like MS-Word.

Comment provided January 14, 2012 at 1:28 AM


Robyn Walter writes:

Another interesting article. I like to think my use of the English language is fair, but must admit to having to think twice when I use the word definitely often seem to want to put an a in there!

Comment provided January 14, 2012 at 4:37 AM


Elena writes:

Thank you for keeping me straght with the words reoccurence vs. recurrence. I have leaned something.

Comment provided January 14, 2012 at 3:06 PM


Hilary Green writes:

These are not exactly spelling mistakes, but something that really drives me crazy is ‘off of’.
When you get off the train, you do NOT get off of it. So where did ‘off of’ it come from?

Comment provided January 14, 2012 at 5:56 PM


Kieran Gracie writes:

Also ‘inside of’, ‘outside of’. And I notice that many younger people now say things like ‘I might of …’ instead of ‘I might have …’ I have started seeing this in print, too. Aaagh!


Albert writes:

The one spelling blunder I used to make out of this is Definately vs. Definitely. But now I have improved on it and hardly do this mistake. Thanks for these spelling blunders.

Comment provided January 15, 2012 at 12:26 AM


Rajiv Sighamony writes:

check or cheque, sometimes both are used incorrectly.

Comment provided January 15, 2012 at 4:58 AM


Delva Rebin writes:

Hi Rajiv,

This is a perfect example of British based spelling vs American based. A British (Canadian, Indian, etc.) cheque is an American check.

Comment provided January 15, 2012 at 10:52 AM


Sybille writes:

what happened to “who” and “which”? More and more often “that” is used for either of these – surely that’s not correct – please help me out, as I am not a native English speaker

Comment provided January 15, 2012 at 8:29 PM


Kieran Gracie writes:

Not sure if this is pertinent to this thread, but I hate the growing use of redundant and misused words. ‘Close proximity’ – proximity IS close, for heaven’s sake! And just plain misunderstood words – ‘It was a phenomenal sunrise’. No it wasn’t, we know how the sun rises!

Just the ramblings of a grumpy old man!

Comment provided January 17, 2012 at 6:14 AM


John writes:

Yeah, nice bunch of spelling blunders. Thanks for the useful tips.

Comment provided January 17, 2012 at 10:51 AM


Dave McKay writes:

Spelling “correctness” can become an obsession, and it helps us to remember that language rules don’t always have to make sense. What may be right in one situation (or country) may not be in another, and what is wrong in one generation (if repeated often enough) can become acceptable in the next.

“Could of”, btw, comes from people SAYING “could’ve” and imagining that they are saying “of” instead.

A pet peeve I have (in Australia) is the number of people who say “X and I” when they should say “X and me”. There is some archaic English situation where it IS correct to us “I” in a me situation, but I cannot remember the rule for it, and I imagine that Australians who say “X and I” are just trying too hard to imitate that rule when it doesn’t apply.

Comment provided January 27, 2012 at 9:29 PM


Opal Marrs writes:

Most mistakes that have to do with “you and I”, he/she and I” is people who say “me and you” or “me and them. Or they make “you and I” objective instead of “you and me”. The speaker is always last like “Billy, Sally, Robert and I” when used as a nominative and “Billy, Sally, Robert and me” when it is in the objective. This rule is also violated frequently in America.

Comment provided January 27, 2012 at 9:49 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Although I believe proper spelling to be paramount, I’d also say that truly, most of the Internet surfers these days would probably never notice, and those who write online to that crowd, must realize that old-school spelling protocol is less-important today than it has been in the past, half the time I cannot even make out the Tweets, and the English language is completely botched and the news media has taken down the reading level to 5th grade now, so, I ask is all this really going to be an issue as the future unfolds, let’s say a few years from now. Half of the social networking pages and comments are riddled with spelling errors, does anyone really care accept for writers and English teachers, sorry, but I dare to throw that out their [sic].

Comment provided January 27, 2012 at 9:55 PM


Valerie Smith writes:

So often I see the incorrect use of “to” and “too” which I find quite disturbing. More disturbing is the frequent misunderstanding of the use of “bought” and “brought” which is not only hard on the eye of the reader but also on the ear of the listener. On the lighter side, thank you for the article. I will look forward to the next one.

Comment provided January 28, 2012 at 5:02 PM


Jon writes:

I like the fact and trick that you have described about “Payed vs. Paid”. I always read your articles on spelling blunders, looking forward for some more spelling blunders like this. Thanks

Comment provided January 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM


barry Perry writes:

The one that drives me nuts is the american spelling of ‘honor’ instead of the correct spelling ‘Honour” I suppose it depends on the word software used and who the proofreader is.

Comment provided July 17, 2012 at 9:43 AM


Opal writes:

My dictionary shows honour as a British spelling and honor as the American English spelling. I don’t think using the British spelling would be thought of as incorrect spelling nor would it take away any meaning of a sentence where it is used. Most of the spelling errors here have to do with misuse of words or when an apostrophe can stand for a missing letter and allows a writer to make his/her writing less formal.

Comment provided July 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM


Opal writes:

Boy, I made a mess of that – “foor” should be “for” and the last part of my comment should read: “allows a writer to…” This typewirter sometimes has a will of its own.

Comment provided July 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM


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