G'day folks,

Here are some words you might find difficult to spell. Of course, not everyone spells these words wrong – but lots of people do! Let’s take a look at a few words that are always putting our spelling to the test. From sneaky silent letters to devious double letters, English sure doesn’t make spelling easy.

1. weird (wierd)

Breaking everyone’s favourite spelling rule – ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ – the word weird is, well, weird.

2. accommodate (acommodate, accomodate)

The easiest way to remember the two double letter pairings in accommodate is to remember that this word ‘accommodates’ a lot of letters.

3. handkerchief (hankerchief)

The lurking ‘d’ in handkerchief can be remembered by thinking about the fact that these squares of nose-blowing cloth fit in one’s hand. Don’t get confused by the shortened hanky! (Nor should you try adding a ‘d’ in there: handky is far from correct.)

4. indict (indite)

The silence ‘c’ in indict (and related words indictment, indictable, etc.) baffles lots of people, both in its spelling and its pronunciation.

5. cemetery (cemetary)

Though many are tempted, there is no ‘a’ in cemetery. You might contrast the word with graveyard, which has two ‘a’s.

6. conscience (conscence, conscious)

The first step is to avoid confusing conscience – a person’s moral sense of right and wrong (noun) – and conscious – aware and responding to one’s surroundings (adjective). Once you clear that hurdle, you need to make sure that ‘science’ makes an appearance in your spelling.

7. rhythm (rythm, rhythym, etc.)

This notorious word boasts only a single vowel – and ‘y’, at that! – plus a couple of ‘h’s running amok. The related word rhyme is only slightly easier.

8. playwright (playwrite)

Even though playwrights do write, the ‘wright’ in this word actually refers to a builder, as in similar words like shipwright. You can remember this by thinking of a playwright as someone who ‘builds’ a theatre experience.

9. embarrass (embarass, embaress)

This word unequivocally demonstrates that language has a sense of humour. Why else make the word embarrass embarrassingly difficult to spell?

10. millennium (millenium)

The incorrect spelling of millennium with only a single ‘n’ is very common, possibly because similar words, such as millenarian and millenary, follow this single ‘n’ pattern. When you’re talking about the ‘millennial’ generation, take to care to keep that second ‘n’ in there.

Clancy's comment: Mm ... Some words trick me up every time. The real tricky ones are jotted on my study wall for future reference.

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