Spelling - whether good or bad - says a lot about you, particularly when you want to impress someone with your professional business writing.  You have one chance to make a good impression - so make the effort and check your accuracy.

English is an interesting language - different from other languages for sure.  If you listen to language, and speak it, some may say it doesn't matter how you write your words.  However, it is important to know how a word looks like to truly understand what is being said and communicated.

This is a website all about writing - so the words are very important.

A change in the order of letters or arrangement of letters in a word can change the meaning.  There are such things as homonyms (words that sound the same but differ in their letters).  You must be aware of them if you are going to succeed as a writer.

Consider the impact of your words when you are writing to an individual.  I'm sure you know how important your name is to you.  It is equally important, and perhaps more important, to others.  People care about their names.  They care if you take the time to know how to spell their names correctly.  Making an error with a person's name - particularly in a business letter or in an email - can be a very serious error.

When you care enough to put something down in writing, you should care enough to make it right.  Check for accuracy in all regards, including grammar and punctuation.

Words that are often misspelled

Websites and books will have lists and lists of words that are commonly written in error.  Do a simple search on the Internet and you will find many that you can try to memorize. I have a few favourites, and I will list them later in this page.

If you are working in a program like Microsoft Word, you will have access to a spellcheck.  Be sure to use it.  It is also important to know and understand which word you need to choose from the array presented to you, and you can do that only if you can recognize the word and the order of its letters.

Resources.  I always work with a dictionary and with a thesaurus close at hand.  The dictionary is a vital part of any writer’s resources.  You may know someone who enjoys reading the dictionary; and you may laugh at that.  But reading about words, how they are formed,  and how they have evolved can be a very interesting pastime.

Root words.  Learn the root words from which a word is derived.  Root words have a specific meaning.  When you add a prefix (a few letters added to the start of a word) or add a suffix (a few letters added to the end of a word), you get a new word and a new meaning.  You may also get a new part of speech.

However, with the root word remaining much the same, it may be possible for you to figure out what the meaning is. 

The more words you know and understand, the more chance you have of writing correctly and professionally in all that you do.

British vs US writing.  Even though the British and the US speak much the same language, there is a clear difference between some British and US .  For example, in the US, people write "labor."  In Britain and Canada, people write "labour."  Most words that end in "or" in the US will end in "our" in Britain and Canada. 

  • neighbor - neighbour
  • favorite - favourite
  • honor - honour

...and so on

A few of my other favourite "spelling" words:

Regardless of which spelling choice you make, be consistent throughout the document you are writing.

A few other of my favourite difficult words:

  • accommodate – accommodation  (always double "m")
  • among  (no "oung")
  • benefit - benefiting  (only the single "t)
  • receipt - receive ("i" before "e" except after "c")
  • Caribbean (the Carib bean)
  • convenience (include the "en" in the middle - convience)
  • independent (the ending is "ent")
  • mischievous (there is no "i" after the "v" - and one must also pronounce this word correctly!)
  • recommend (always the double "m")
  • separate (the "a" after the "p")
  • whether (pronounce this correctly so that you spell it correctly - "wh")

A little humour

When you understand words and how they can be spelled, you can also work a little humour into your writing or your speech.  What is a pun?

A pun is a tool used by someone who wants to make a joke – and puns tend to be classed as “clever humour.”  When two words are similar, using one in place of the other, can create humour.

A pun is a type of humour that is called “word play” or a “play on words.”

However, you must understand how the words are used – and that includes the letters in each one – to know that this is an intentional exchange.

A very simple example.  You may have heard of the Dutch cheese called Gouda Cheese.  Someone who likes that cheese might call it a good cheese. 

But to make a pun, you might say instead, “That’s a gouda cheese.”

Or another one that is also a favourite:

What did Father Christmas say to his wife when he looked out of the window?

-- Looks like reindeer!

People enjoy this kind of humour.   It seems so simple, and yet one must be quite alert in order to find the opportunities to make a pun. 

Because this is a “play on words,” the letters in the words and their spellings will be most important in understanding the joke.  One must clearly understand the two words in order to understand the humour.

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