Avoiding common spelling mistakes
CommonMistakes
Avoiding common spelling mistakes

The spelling and pronunciation of a word are some of the first things we learn about new vocabulary, so it can be frustrating when we make basic spelling mistakes with words we've probably known for years. You shouldn't feel too embarrassed though, spelling mistakes are the most common type of error made by IELTS candidates at all levels. There are several reasons why English spelling can be tricky. In this post, we're going to look at one key issue and some ideas for remembering problem spellings. Sound and spelling: using word parts to understand spelling One common reason for spelling mistakes is that words don't always sound as they're spelled. Take a basic word like because, it's the most commonly misspelled word across all English learners! We see learners using all kinds of spellings, especially for the vowel sounds: becouse, becose, becaus, beacause, beacuse, becase. This is probably because when we say it in fluent speech, the vowel sounds are weak: "We didn't go because it was raining." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below) Even when we emphasise the word, the sounds don't seem to match the spelling: "Why didn't you go? Because it was raining." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below) One easy way of remembering the correct spelling is to break the word down into parts.  We use because to introduce the cause of something so imagine the word as: Some longer words have a silent or barely pronounced letter in the middle that leads to common spelling mistakes. Two very common IELTS spelling mistakes are: Government - /ˈɡʌv.əm.mənt/ Advertisement - /ədˈvɜː.tɪs.mənt/ Government: often misspelled as goverment with the missing N Advertisement: often misspelled as advertisment with the missing E With these words it helps to break them down and think about the verb form where the final letters are pronounced: "People are questioning the president's ability to govern." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below) "They advertise their products online." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below) Thinking about the verb + ment will help you remember the correct spelling.   Which words do you often misspell? Can you break the word down into parts to help you remember the correct spelling? What about these other commonly misspelled words: how can they be broken down to remember? (Click image to enlarge)  

Julie Moore

9 September, 2021

Avoiding common spelling mistakes

Avoiding common spelling mistakes

The spelling and pronunciation of a word are some of the first things we learn about new vocabulary, so it can be frustrating when we make basic spelling mistakes with words we've probably known for years.

You shouldn't feel too embarrassed though, spelling mistakes are the most common type of error made by IELTS candidates at all levels. There are several reasons why English spelling can be tricky. In this post, we're going to look at one key issue and some ideas for remembering problem spellings.

Sound and spelling: using word parts to understand spelling

One common reason for spelling mistakes is that words don't always sound as they're spelled. Take a basic word like because, it's the most commonly misspelled word across all English learners! We see learners using all kinds of spellings, especially for the vowel sounds: becouse, becose, becaus, beacause, beacuse, becase. This is probably because when we say it in fluent speech, the vowel sounds are weak:

"We didn't go because it was raining." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below)

Even when we emphasise the word, the sounds don't seem to match the spelling:

"Why didn't you go? Because it was raining." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below)

One easy way of remembering the correct spelling is to break the word down into parts.

We use because to introduce the cause of something so imagine the word as:

Jigsaw pieces - one with 'be' and the other 'cause'

Some longer words have a silent or barely pronounced letter in the middle that leads to common spelling mistakes. Two very common IELTS spelling mistakes are:

  • Government - /ˈɡʌv.əm.mənt/
  • Advertisement - /ədˈvɜː.tɪs.mənt/

Government: often misspelled as goverment with the missing N
Advertisement: often misspelled as advertisment with the missing E

With these words it helps to break them down and think about the verb form where the final letters are pronounced:

"People are questioning the president's ability to govern." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below)

"They advertise their products online." (Listen to the recording of the sentence below)

Thinking about the verb + ment will help you remember the correct spelling.

govern and ment on jigsaw pieces

 

Advertise and ment on jigsaw piece

Which words do you often misspell? Can you break the word down into parts to help you remember the correct spelling?

What about these other commonly misspelled words: how can they be broken down to remember?

Commonly mispelled words - entertainment, equipment, development, performance, department, information, management

(Click image to enlarge)


Julie Moore

Julie is a teacher and language researcher who uses data from IELTS test takers to better understand how we can help them improve.

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