While we can count on spell check to catch glaring errors, a computer can't pick up mistakes if you've simply used the wrong word. Homonyms-words that share similar spellings and pronunciations but have different meanings-are a big cause of unintentional embarrassment in written language. That's why it's so important to double- and triple-check your writing and not just rely on a computer program to proofread for you-especially considering so much of our professional communication is now done via email and not the telephone. The following 10 spelling errors are the most likely to be missed by spell check-making a less than ideal impression on the reader.
Its versus It's
According to a copy editing instructor for California-based copy editing service Edicetera, confusing "its" and "it's" is the most commonly made error in the English language. That one little apostrophe (or lack thereof) drastically changes the meaning of the entire sentence. "It's" is a contraction of "it is," whereas "its" is the possessive form of "it."
Affect versus Effect
There is a lot of confusion around this one but here's the rule: "Affect" is a verb and "effect" is a noun. "Affect" means to influence; "effect" pertains to a result, as in the phrase "cause and effect."
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Would Have NOT Would of
The casual way in which we pronounce words when we speak leads to the rampant misuse of this phrase. However "would of" is not grammatically correct. "Would have" is the appropriate phrase.
Your versus You're
This is another all too common mistake, but it's easy to ensure you're using the correct word when you stop to think about what you're typing. "You're" is a contraction of "you are," while "your" is the possessive form of "you."
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Through versus Threw
"He threw the ball through the window." "Threw" is a verb and "through" is a preposition. And speaking of "through," be careful to make sure you don't actually mean "thorough" or vice versa. The slight variation in spelling will not be picked up by a computer, but writing "I am through" when you mean "I am thorough" is rather ironic, don't you think?
Then versus Than
Six is more than five; after five then comes six. "Than" refers to a comparison, while "then" refers to a subsequent event.
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Supposed To NOT Suppose To
"Suppose" is a verb, meaning to think or to ponder. "Supposed" is an adjective that refers to things that should have occurred. The correct way to express a duty is to write, "I was supposed to walk the dog," not "suppose to."
Wonder versus Wander
You can wander around while you wonder why "wander" and "wonder" have such different meanings, yet sound so similar.
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Their versus There versus They're
"Their" is possessive; "there" refers to distance; and "they're" is a contraction of "they are." Easy peasy!
Farther versus Further
While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish "farther" as physical distance and "further" as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project but you would dive farther into the ocean.
We know we missed many more common errors. What mistakes do you see (or accidentally make!) most often?
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