How Can I Improve My Spelling?

How Can I Improve My Spelling?

Do you want to become a spelling champion? We’ve put together a list of common spelling mistakes, complete with tips and tricks.

First, give yourself a pat on the back.  Being able to spell anything in English is an accomplishment. Ours is a language that works without rhyme or reason, if only because it’s a mix of so many different influences.

You can get an idea of how jumbled the English language is from Bill Bryson‘s book Made in America, which is about the history of English over there. Bryson says that for various periods, we not only had the same words spelled in different ways, but pronounced differently as well.  How confusing is that?


Below are commonly misspelled words from the Oxford Dictionaries, and our accompanying spelling aid:

  • Achieve – I before E
  • Accommodate – two Cs, two Ms
  • Espresso – no X needed
  • Embarrass – two Rs and two Ss
  • Independent – it’s all Es
  • Misspell – two Ss (I always get this one wrong)
  • Manoeuvre – oeu and vre
  • Phlegm – there’s a G before the M
  • Possession – two Ss in the middle and two at the end
  • Separate – two As (remember it means to sEt ApArt)
  • Unfortunately – it ends with ELY


And here are some tips to remember #howtospell:

  • One trick is to use a #mnemonic (‘neh-mon-ick’), which is where you make the letters part of a memorable sentence. For example, RHYTHM is Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving. So if you find it difficult to remember the spelling of a particular word, come up with a mnemonic that makes sense to you.
  • Get a dictionary and keep a list of the words you get wrong. Each time you make a mistake, write it down as is and note the correct spelling. This will be your list of Repeat Offenders to check against when you write.
  • Finding a long word difficult? Then break it up into smaller ones you can handle – think of it as Language Lego. (Tip: Don’t try this with supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.)
  • With some words, you can use how they sound to remind yourself of their spelling. My favourite is one that has a nice cadence to it. Can you tell what it is?

Em eye double ess, eye double ess, eye double pee, eye

  • The BBC’s Skillswise website is also useful.  It has tips for English and maths for adults, so it’s like being back at school. Well, without all the drama of who fancies who and being the last person to be picked in sports. (But maybe that’s just me.)
  • Finally, don’t rely on Microsoft Word’s spellcheck.  It often defaults to American spelling and can add mistakes to your work.

 Which words do you struggle with? Tell us in the comments!


Have you seen our other Euroffice blogs on language? Read on:

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