Home » Uncategorized » Fifteen Common Spelling Mistakes

Fifteen Common Spelling Mistakes

Now we all know that people often get their and there mixed up, forget where an apostrophe should go with its/it’s and many confuse of and off. But, there are so many other words which writers have problems with. Today I’m going to give a few examples I’ve come across in the past few months. So, do any of these trip you up?

You might feint in fencing, but it’s a faint smile on someone’s face.

You could have a flair for writing, but it’s your temper which flares up.

We talk of someone’s personal effects, but how a death in the family affects you.

Famous artists might produce works of art on canvas, but politicians canvass voters.

The brakes on your car might fail, but you break a leg. And that means handbrake too.

I wonder what I’ll have for lunch today, as I wander around the park.

Lead has a few meanings, but in this instance I am talking about the verb. Often writers will write ‘lead’ as the past tense of ‘to lead’, when it should be ‘led’. I led him by the hand, but he knows how to lead.

He was prostrate on the bed, ruminating over the fact he had to go and see the doctor about his prostate.  (Prostate without the R is related to the prostate gland, whereas prostrate means lying down.)

You might find the baked beans in aisle 11 of the supermarket, but you reach the isle of Arran by ferry.

You’re a sight for sore eyes. The building site was just past the shops.

I had no idea he had put the TV on mute. Who does the most housework in my house is a moot point. (in the sense of open for debate)

She scolded her toddler for climbing on the table. He scalded himself with boiling water from the kettle.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the following examples trip up even the most seasoned writer:

You sow your wild oats, but you sew a button on your shirt.

You don’t want to waste a precious moment of your writing time, but watch your waistline when consuming all those chocolate biscuits at your desk.

I’d like to lose a stone in weight, but hopefully I won’t have to wait for my sister’s wedding for a good excuse to do so.

That’s all for now, folks! Happy writing!




  1. Enjoyed this – and recognise them all. Lead and led get me every time!

  2. Annecdotist says:

    I’m afraid an awful lot of these happen to me as a result of using voice-activated software as the mistakes are always proper words. Obviously, I proofread like mad, but some still slip through. Another is STYLE as in type and STILE that you climb over in a country walk – which unfortunately I am doing quite a lot of the time.
    I’m hoping other people will be willing to confess!

    • Oh there are so many more, Anne. I feel a second post coming on this very subject next month! Thanks for sharing and commenting. Yes, hopefully others will ‘fess up! I tried voice-activated software years ago and also again recently – it drove me mad!

  3. There is a hymn we used to sing in the Episcopal (Anglican) church, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8Vk59SHSWs if you’re curious), that opens with “All hail the power of Jesus’ name! / Let angels prostrate fall.” And it always used to make me giggle.. because of what I wanted to sing instead. Poor angels.

  4. […] Getting the details right is important. Jay Korza provides surveillance information for writers, MJ Wright has 3 rules for naming your fantasy world (which works just as well for reality-based fictional worlds), and Perfect Prose Services lists 15 common spelling mistakes and how to avoid them. […]

  5. Yvonne Wallace says:

    The one that really bugs me is when someone claims they are going to ‘loose weight’…..arghhhhh!!!!!

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