Spelling mistakes can happen to anyone, even
too to me (queue gasps). Weather Whether typing an email, writing compelling web copy, crafting product descriptions, or drafting a book, its it’s easy to mix up these commonly misspelled words in your business.
These silly misspellings are arguably not the end of the world (I mean, there are bigger problems that deserve our energy), but they could cost you, your company, and your brand respect in the eyes of some clients, customers, employees, investors, journalists, or potential partners.
“Look at this, Jo! They said ‘allude’ instead of ‘elude.’ Damn. This company is so silly.”
Misspelled words can also cause confusion (and frustration) for the reader, draining time and mental energy they don’t want to spend (often leading to head shaking and website bouncing).
So, to help you avoid written faux pas (and have a knowing laugh at yourself when you see some words you have misspelled or mixed up so frequently that you wonder if you are trying to mess ’em up), here’s a list of the top 21 words that are commonly misspelled in business because
their there they’re easily mistaken for another word.
Plus, we’ve added tips on how to remember the correct spelling for all words involved.
Top 21 Most commonly Mixed Up Words in Business Writing
Here are 21 sets of most commonly misspelled words in business — in alphabetical order, ’cause we nerds like dat 🤓:
1. Accept vs. Except
- Accept is a verb that means to receive something willingly.
- “I will accept your Zoom invitation. That time works great.”
- Except is a preposition that means excluding or apart from.
- “Everything works for the meeting, except for the date. Can we do Thursday instead?”
To remember the difference between accept and except, think of the phrase:
- “I accept the invitation, except for the date — rain check?”
2. Affect vs. Effect
- Affect is a verb that means to influence or have an impact on something.
- “How will my absence affect our ability to hit the deadline?”
- Affect, for you fellow Psychology fans, is also a noun meaning mood or emotion, especially as demonstrated in external physical signs. (This is not commonly used in business writing, however).
- “He affected a cheery disposition despite feeling left out.”
- Effect is a noun that means a result or outcome.
- “The effects of the financial crisis on small businesses will be felt for years to come.”
To remember the difference between affect and effect, think:
- Affect is the action
- Effect is the end result
3. Allude vs. Elude vs. Illude
- Allude means to refer to something indirectly.
- “Her joke, although playful, alluded to my poor behavior last week.”
- Elude means to escape or avoid.
- “I know I’ve met him at a conference before but his name eludes me.”
- Illude means to trick or delude (not commonly used)
- “The competitor’s false advertising campaign is clearly an attempt to illude potential customers into switching to their product.”
To remember the difference between allude, elude, and illude:
- Allude is to talk about things without mentioning them directly
- Elude means to escape or evade
- Illude is to try to trick, like a magician does with illusions
4. Brake vs. Break
- Brake is a noun or verb referring to slowing something down
- “The cars brakes use new technology.”
- “I need more time. Let’s pump the brakes for a minute.”
- “Please brake gently when approaching the red light.”
- Break is a noun or verb meaning pause or to destroy or separate into pieces.
- “We’ll take a 15-minute break after this presentation.”
- “If you drop it, the phone will break.”
To remember the difference between brake and break:
- Brake has an a in the middle of it just like car and helps stop the forward action of a car.
- Break has an e in the middle of it just like piece — and breaking leads to pieces.
5. Complement vs. Compliment
- Complement is a noun that means something that completes or enhances.
- “This wine complements the meals perfectly! Delicious.”
- Compliment is a noun or verb that means an expression of praise or admiration.
- “Please send my compliments to the chef.”
To remember the difference between complement and compliment, think of these phrases:
- “Complements Complete” (It has an “e” in the middle)
- “Compliments are Charming” (It has an “i” in the middle)
6. Conscious vs. Conscience
- Conscious means aware or intentional. (It is an adjective like delicious, oblivious, spacious, furious).
- “I was feeling very self-conscious during my presentation to the partners.”
- Conscience refers to one’s moral sense of right and wrong. (It is a noun like Science, experience, resilience, patience).
- “It goes against my conscience to lie to our customers, no matter how small.”
To remember the difference between conscious and conscience:
- Conscious is being aware, not oblivious.
- Your conscience sense of right and wrong is developed through experience.
7. Definitely vs. Defiantly
- Definitely means for sure, without a doubt, or certainly.
- “We can definitely match any competitor’s price!”
- Defiantly means in a disobedient or rebellious manner.
- “As a company, we stand defiantly against any practice that puts others down.”
To remember the difference between definitely and defiantly:
- Definitely has finite in it, which means limited in number or certain.
- Defiantly is when you defy or challenge authority.
8. Discreet vs. Discrete
- Discreet means careful or cautious in speech or action.
- “Let’s be discreet about the details of this merger for now.”
- Discrete means separate or distinct.
- “Our online training courses are broken down into discrete modules, allowing you to complete them at your own pace.”
To remember the difference between discreet and discrete:
- Discreet is being careful and cautious with etiquette
- Discrete is separate and exact, which is why the two e’s are separated by a t.
9. Emigrate vs. Immigrate
- Emigrate means to leave one’s country to settle in another.
- “I emigrated from the US, so I am an ex-pat.”
- Immigrate means to enter and settle in a new country.
- “I immigrated here to Thailand last year to work remotely.”
To remember the difference between emigrate and immigrate:
- Emigrate is to exit from (like export)
- Immigrate is to go in to (like import)
10. Farther vs. Further
- Farther refers to physical distance.
- “I can throw this money farther into the Trevi fountain than you can!”
- Further refers to something abstract such as time, extent, or degree.
- “I can make this money go further while we travel Rome by eating where locals eat.”
To remember the difference between farther and further:
- Farther refers to how far something is in distance
- Further refers to something abstract or unreal
11. Its vs. It’s
- Its is a possessive pronoun that denotes ownership.
- “The shipping speed of that product is the best part of its offer.”
- It’s is a contraction of it is or it has.
- “If the shipping fee isn’t included, it’s not a worthwhile offer unless it’s far cheaper.”
- “No returns accepted if it’s been over 30 days since product delivery.”
To remember the difference between its and it’s:
- Its means belonging to it (like theirs belongs to them, or his belongs to him)
- It’s is a contraction for it is
Okay, we are over half-way in our list of 21 sets of commonly misspelled words in business!
• Which word so far irks you the most to see misspelled?
• Which word eludes you the most in spelling correctness?
12. Lead vs. Led
- Lead is a verb meaning to guide, direct, or take charge or a noun meaning a type of heavy metal.
- “If you lead, we will follow.”
- “Our pipes are completely lead-free.”
- Led is the past tense of the verb to lead (but pronounced like the heavy metal).
- “She led the group in a guided meditation during the retreat.”
To remember the difference between lead and led:
- Lead, the verb, is done by leaders — it’s an action that is happening now.
- Lead, noun, looks like “lead as in leader,” but sounds like “led.”
- Led rhymes with dead and happened in the past — the action is over, so we drop the a.
13. Loose vs. Lose
- Loose means not tight or free from constraint.
- “If the screws come loose, watch this video for how to fix.”
- Lose means to be deprived of or unable to find.
- “If you lose your receipt, we can look up your order by your last name.”
To remember the difference between loose and lose:
- Loose rhymes with goose and “loosey-goosey” is an informal way to say excessively relaxed or imprecise.
- Lose is missing the second “o,” and if you lose a game, then you lost and are the loser.
14. Principal vs. Principle
- Principal is the main person or thing.
- “The principal from your son’s school is on line 1.”
- “The principal of a company is the top, key management figure, such as a CEO.”
- “Our principal objective is to deliver quality ingredients at a fair price.”
- Principle refers to a truth or foundational belief.
- “Our mission is based on the following core principles: one is honesty above all else…”
To remember the difference between principal and principle:
- Principal has “pal” in it, and the principal of a school is usually kind and friendly and is the main person or position in the school.
- Principle has “le” in it just like rule.
15. Stationary vs. Stationery
- Stationary refers to something that is standing, steady, or not moving.
- “Our stationary bikes beat Peleton any day of the week.”
- Stationery is writing paper or other materials.
- “Make sure to send the thank you note on company branded stationery.”
To remember the difference between stationary and stationery:
- Stationary is something that is standing.
- Stationery is often sent in an envelope.
16. Than vs. Then
- Than is used to compare things.
- “Your coaching program worked better than anything else I’ve tried before.”
- “I wish I had more than two days to finish this landing page.”
- Then is used to indicate time or a sequence of events.
- “We used to offer more options back then, but not anymore.”
- “First add your products to the cart, then enter the promo code.”
- “If you don’t see results, then we’ll give you your money back!”
To remember the difference between than and then:
- Than is for comparisons like “apples to oranges.”
- Then is for time.
17. Their vs. There vs. They’re
- Their shows possession, belonging to
- “Have you tried their supersized desserts?”
- There indicates location
- “The conference is next week. Can’t wait to see you there!”
- They’re is the contraction of they and are
- “If they’re offering a special today, let’s order that.”
To remember the difference between their, there, and they’re:
- Their has “heir” in it. The heir to the thrown is the person to whom the kingdom will belong.
- There has “here” in it, indicating location.
- They‘re is just “they” and “are” smushed together with the “a” turning into an apostrophe.
18. To vs. Too vs. Two
- To is a preposition, used to indicate direct or purpose
- “Send questions to info@CompanyName.com.”
- Too means also, as well, or excessively
- “I’m speaking on stage next week too.”
- Two is the number 2 spelled out
- “We have two options in that size.”
To remember the difference between to, too, and they’re:
- To is the most commonly used of the option, the most likely go-to option
- Too has double o‘s, which is a bit excessive 😉
- Two has a w in it, which is made up of two v’s. The letter w is also often used in mathematical equations with numbers like 2.
19. Your vs. You’re
- Your shows possession or belonging.
- “Your business is growing.”
- You’re is the contraction of “you” and “are”
- “Thank you!” “Ahh, you’re very welcome!”
To remember the difference between your and you’re:
- Your is possessive like our (or yours and ours)
- You’re is “you” and “are” smushed together with the “a” turning into an apostrophe
20. Weather vs. Whether
- Weather is a noun referring to what’s going on outside like with clouds, wind, rain, and temperature.
- “If the weather is bad, we’ll have to postpone the grand opening party.”
- Whether is a conjunction used to show conditionality (like “if”) or a choice between alternatives.
- “Let me know whether or not the meeting time works for you.”
- “The cost is high whether we go with Company A or Company B.”
To remember the difference between weather and whether:
- Weather has to do with atmospheric conditions
- Whether has two he‘s in it, representing two choices
21. Whose vs. Who’s
- Whose is a possessive pronoun showing ownership or possession.
- “Is Alex the developer whose code was broken?”
- “Whose email bounced?”
- Who’s is a contraction combining “who” and “is” or “who” and “has”
- “No matter who’s on the Zoom call, don’t be nervous.”
- “I think Jan is the one who’s close the most sales this quarter.”
- “Who’s going to the event?”
To remember the difference between whose and who’s:
- Whose is used to ask about the ownership of those document.
- Who’s is just a mash up of who and is (drop the i) or has (drop the ha)
Two Questions for You
- Which of these commonly misspelled words in business most irk you to read in others’ writing?
- (For me, it’s #11, 17, 18, an 19 — the contraction ones)
- Which of these commonly misspelled words in business do you most often mess up?
- (For me, it’s #12 — I think because the noun ‘lead’ sounds like the past tense ‘led.’ English is cray cray.)
Conclusion a la the Most Commonly Misspelled Words in Business
Again, making writing errors by mixing up common words like the 21 sets we’ve shared in this article is not the end of the world, but it can cause confusion and frustration for many readers (who are clients, customers, partners, investors, journalists, or people interested in becoming one of those things).
So, by remembering which is
witch which, you can ensure you are putting yourself, your brand, and your business in the best possible light.
It doesn’t take
alot a lot of effort to remember the correct spelling of the right word for your intended meaning! Need more creative or clever examples of ways to remember any of the above? Let us know! We’d love to create more ways to keep these most commonly misspelled words straight!
grate great day!
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