11 Common Spelling Errors Spell Check Won’t Catch

Spelling and meaning are important to knowSpelling and meaning are important to know

Yes, our computer's spell check function points out glaring spelling errors. But that's not the case for words that are spelled correctly but used in the wrong context. Because the English language is full of homonyms (words that sound and look similar but have very different meanings), it's easy to introduce errors that make you look less intelligent or more sloppy than you are. For this reason, it's critical to not only spell check but also proofread your documents, especially for the following common misuses.

1. 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. It's as simple as that.

2. Would Have NOT Would of

The subtlety in pronunciation leads to the rampant misuse of this phrase; however "would of" is never correct and may make you appear as if you are not well-read.

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3. Through versus Threw versus Thorough
"He threw the ball through the window." "Threw" is a verb and "through" is a preposition. Additionally, in relation to "through," be careful not to mistake it for "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 a serious oversight-especially if it's slipped into a job-application cover letter.

4. Then versus Than

Five is more than four; after five, then comes six. "Than" refers to a comparison, while "then" refers to a subsequent event.

5. Supposed To NOT Suppose To

"Suppose" is a verb, meaning to think or to ponder. The correct way to express a duty is to write, "I was supposed to…"

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6. Sales versus Sails

Pity the author who writes on his or her résumé that he "increased sails by 20 percent." Unless you're applying to a job for a sail boat manufacturer, this careless mistake is likely to send your application sailing into the recycling bin.

7. Compliment versus Complement
"Compliment" refers to an admiring remark (Nice smile!). "Complement" has nothing to do with kind words. According to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, it refers to something that "fills up, completes, or makes perfect."

8. Wonder versus Wander
You can wander the globe while you wonder why these two similar-sounding words have such different meanings.

9. Their versus There versus They're
"Their" is possessive; "there" refers to distance; and "they're" is a contraction of "they are."

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10. 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, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean.

11. Its versus It's (and all other apostrophes):
According to a copy editing instructor for California-based copy editing service provider Edicetera, confusing "its" and "it's" is the most common error in the English language. That one minuscule apostrophe (or lack thereof) drastically changes the meaning of the entire sentence. "It's" is a contraction of "it is," whereas "its" refers to possession. Also, watch out for "your" versus "you're."

Did we miss some of your favorite errors? Tell us the spelling error that irks you most!

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