Embarrassing Grammar and Awkward Spelling Mistakes Everyone Needs to Avoid

Despite most people having attended all their ninth-grade English classes and done the required reading, some folk still can’t wrap their heads around basic spelling rules.

Whether it’s accidentally typing two “Ls” in the word ‘truly’ or writing the wrong homophone altogether (I’m looking at you their, they’re and there), these common spelling errors are bound to elicit a few groans and eye-rolls.

Some people refuse to change their ways and signal that they don’t care, even though the poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation can make them look less intelligent and give easy ammunition for people in the comments section to criticize.

Grammar and Spelling Pet Peeves

Even if you are guilty of making some basic spelling mistakes, it’s not too late to change your ways. Here are a few common spelling errors to avoid:

1. Affect Vs Effect

This one is pretty common. Affect means to influence or cause a change in someone, while effect means the result of something.

For example,

  • Changing temperatures can affect the flowers.
  • The effect of changing temperatures is shorter blooming seasons.

2. Your Vs You’re

This one really trips people up, even though it shouldn’t. Your is used to show ownership of something, while you’re is a contraction of the words “you” and “are.”

For example,

  • Your car looks nice.
  • You’re going to have a great time at the concert!
  • You’re welcome.

3. Compliment Vs Complement

This one can be tricky because it looks so similar. Compliment means to praise someone or something for their qualities, while complement means to complete or bring out the best in something else.

For example,

  • We gave money and complimented the busker for the entertainment.
  • This dress complements your figure perfectly.

4. Its Vs It’s

Another common mistake is confusing two very similar words: its and it’s. While they sound almost identical, the main difference between them is that its is a possessive pronoun (i.e., belonging to it), and it’s is a contraction for “it is.”

For example,

  • The cat licked its paw.
  • It’s raining outside.

5. Loose Vs Lose

Loose means not securely held or fixed in place, while lose means to suffer the loss of possession or someone’s companionship.

For example,

  • The screws were loose, so we tightened them.
  • I’d hate to lose my wallet.

6. Woman Vs Women

Woman is singular, while women is plural.

For example,

  • That woman is wearing a nice dress.
  • These women have come from all over the world.

7. Everyday Vs Every day

Everyday is an adjective meaning ordinary or commonplace, while every day imeans on each day.

For example,

  • Chocolate is my everyday treat.
  • She practices yoga every day.

8. Quiet Vs Quite

Quiet means without noise, while quite means to a certain degree or rather.

For example,

  • The library was quiet during the exam period.
  • He’s quite an interesting person.

9. Could of Vs Could Have

Could of is a common misspelling for could have, which means to be able to do something in the past.

For example,

  • He could have gone to the party but chose not to. (NOT could of)
  • They could have done more research before making it.

10. Monkies Vs Monkeys

Monkeys is the correct spelling of this animal.

For example,

  • The monkeys were jumping from branch to branch.
  • Sometimes the monkeys would make funny noises.

11. Too Late Vs To Late

Too late is the correct spelling of this phrase, which means after the expected or desired time.

For example,

  • It was too late to turn back now.
  • It’s never too late to make a change.

12. Goodnight Vs Good night

Good night is an interjection; wishing you good luck in your sleep. Goodnight is the adjective spelling of this phrase.

Goodnight Vs Good Night Examples

13. Kindergarten Vs Kindergarden

Kindergarten is the correct spelling of this word, which means a school for children, usually ages 5-6 years old.

14. Commit Vs Comit

Commit is the correct spelling of this word, which means to pledge or promise.

READ MORE: 10 Things We Teach Children That May Do More Harm Than Good

15. Volumn Vs Volume

Volume is the correct spelling of this word, which means the amount of space a substance or object occupies.

See: Is Volumn Correct? With Examples

16. Definitely VS Definately

Definitely is the correct spelling of this word, which means without a doubt.

17. Principal Vs Principle

The principal is an adjective meaning most important or first in rank; while principle is a noun meaning a fundamental law, doctrine or assumption.

For example,

  • He is the principal of the school.
  • The principal reason for their success is hard work and dedication.
  • The principle of honesty is important in any relationship.

18. Stationary Vs Stationery

Stationary means standing still; while stationery refers to paper and writing materials (i.e., pens, pencils, envelopes, etc.).

For example,

  • The car was stationary for several minutes.
  • I need to buy some stationery for my office.

19.  Separate Vs Seperate

Separate is the correct spelling of this word, which means to keep or divide something from another.


Spelling mistakes can be embarrassing and lead to confusion. Therefore, paying attention to your spelling when writing is important so that your work is clear and accurate. Whether it’s something as simple as its or it’s or something more complex like compliment or complement, being mindful of the differences can go a long way towards avoiding any embarrassing spelling pet peeves.

What are some other grammar and spelling mistakes you see people make?

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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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