10 commonly misspelled words -and how to remember them (1)

Which words do you find difficult to spell?

Here we're going to look at 10 words native speakers find most difficult to spell and ways to remember the spelling. Next time (or very soon) we'll look at the words that non-native speakers have most trouble with and how to remember those spellings.
(Photo from vancouverfilmschool at Flickr)

This word comes from minute (tiny), not mini, so there's a u after the min not i.

We can remember it has double l because it's like million, but what about the double n? I just think of the year 2000 and remember there are 2 n's.

If you are embarrassed you have two red cheeks, so there is a double r.

If a word ends with a consonant, vowel, consonant (CVC) pattern we double the final consonant before adding a suffix beginning with a vowel. However, if the CVC syllable is unstressed we don't double the consonant, eg open > opening. Here the stress is on the final syllable ocCUR, so we double the r.

The most misspelled word! Just remember: "The best accommodation has two double beds" (double c and double m).
(Photo from toddwight1 at Flickr)

If you have perseverance you are willing to do something several times before you get it right.

This word literally means to sit on top of something (to replace it). So super is 'on top of' and sede is 'sit' (think of sedentary).

Normally we drop a final e before a suffix beginning with a vowel (like > likable, persevere > perseverance). However, if the letter before the final e is a c or g with a soft sound (as in notice or outrage) we need to keep the e before a suffix that begins with a, o or u, because c and g are only usually soft before e and i. So we write notice + able = noticeable and outrage + ous = outrageous.

The word harhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/daveynin/ass (and harassment) may come from an Old French word meaning 'to set a dog on' (to get a dog to attack somebody or something). Whether this is true or not, we can remember that a dog harasses a hare, so just one r. If you have trouble remembering how many s's you might like to think about which part of the hare the dog bites first! (Photo of Hare by Daveynin at Flickr)

When you have an inoculation they only use one needle. Just one n. In fact there are no double doses (no double letters) in the word.


Without looking at the words above, on a piece of paper, write the words according to the clues below:
1. A hotel, hostel or apartment, for example.
2. To annoy or repeatedly attack somebody.
3. 1000 years.
4. Very, very small.
5. Replace something with a newer type.
6. A feeling of shyness or shame.
7. You can see something easily, obvious.
8. The quality of continuing with something although it is difficult.
9. Something that happens, an event.
10. An injection which prevents you from getting a disease.

Other related posts on The Spelling Blog:
How do you spell...
5 reasons why English spelling is difficult
Mnemonics for tricky spellings
-able or -ible?


  1. For me the key to the nn in millennium is the (etymologically identical) nn in annual.

    If you pronounce harass American-wise, with the accent on the second syllable, the spelling becomes intuitive. I understand that some BrE speakers use this stress pattern in séxual harássment at least.

  2. Thanks for the 'annua'l > 'millennium' hook (though there may be some who struggle with the double 'n' in 'annual'!)

    I pronounce 'harass' on the second syllable (both pronounciations are heard here in Britain)but still have to hesitate over the number of 'r's.

  3. Do you know of a spelling trick for "exaggerate"? The other day someone asked me how to spell that word and I told them "With an egg." I think I must have learned some trick many years ago, but now don't remember the trick.

  4. No, sorry DC, I don't. 'With an egg' seems to be a better answer to 'How do you pronounce it'! Maybe you could make something up about the 'g's being exaggerated (there are two) - 'girls always exaggerate'. Not a very good one I'm afraid. Can anyone come up with something better?

  5. You need to exAGGERate to stAGGER me. Andy.