People can be too clever to spell

If you have problems with the spelling of certain words in English it may be because you are too smart.

Researchers at Collins Dictionaries discovered that the most commonly misspelt word was supersede. The problem arises because people use their knowledge of the words that have a phonetically similar ending, like intercede, precede or cede, from the Latin cedere – to yield. They then wrongly assume that supersede is spelt with a ‘c’, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.

Most commonly misspelt words – take the test

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68 Responses to People can be too clever to spell

  1. Jen says:

    My husband was recently sent an email from a friend which told of research being done at whatever University it was. The gist of the message was that you could write a whole page in misspelt words but had to ensure that the first and last letter of each word were in their correct places. The reader is then, apparently, still able to read the text. I tried it and it worked! But I do like to see correct spelling.

  2. christopher says:

    I think as you can make out the words it isnt important.

  3. cohdotuk says:

    There is only one correct spelling for each word in the English language.  If you are unsure as to a word\’s correct spelling, learn it.
     
    No doubt a significant number of people will call for a spelling free-for-all, where it doesn\’t really matter how you spell.  Wouldn\’t that make the point of schooling irrelevant? 
     
    You have to ask yourself who the people are who aren\’t overly concerned about correct spelling – could they be those who can\’t correctly spell?

  4. Sapien says:

    I personally find miss-spelt words extremely irritating, particularly in books, texts, newspapers etc. I mean there really isn\’t an excuse for proof reading something before it’s published.
     
    I admit I\’m not the best at spelling, but am easily able to pick out any misspellings when reading something.
     
    The English in some news papers, magazines and indeed books is shocking. Especially as many of these people should be able to spell, its what they do; their trade is the written word.
     
    Perhaps, I should start a new career as a proof reader…

  5. Lindsey says:

     Actually, how often is \’supersede\’ actually used? (I\’ve never heard of it, but that\’s probably \’cause of the fact I\’m a teen) And how much is it misspelt? If it\’s the most commonly misspelt word of all, then people who write English must be amazing at spelling!
     
    Oh, about correct spelling, if it\’s not really obviously wrong, then I suppose it\’s okay. I mean, to be honest, you look like a right idiot if \’yhuu spel lyk diis\’. But if it\’s not really horrible spelling, it\’s okay.

  6. lucy says:

    Dus ne1 rele care that much?? haha

  7. Dale says:

    @ A.S Is it centre or center? that has two correct spellings yes? There are other but none that come to mind immediantly

  8. barbara says:

    I am more amazed that so many people put a comma in front of the word "and".  I was always taught not to do this and, in fact, cannot do it.  Have things changed now?  Everyone seems to do it, journalists, professionals, etc.  After all, you would not say fish, and chips. It just looks so wrong to me! 

  9. pete says:

    How can anyone be to intelegnt to use a spell checker all you have to do is think am I clever or just human !

  10. barbara says:

    I think centre is the English way and center American.  Strange though that although we spell words like centre this way and Americans do not, we spell the word enter as "enter" and not entre!

  11. Unknown says:

    not being picky nibbles but it is spelled intelligent!!! oh and it\’s too not to in that context. maybe try your spell checker!!!

  12. Ben says:

    "Center" is a building for a specific purpose for example Medical Research Center. "Centre" is the middle of something, for example the centre of a circle.

  13. Unknown says:

    "My favorite flavor of ice cream had a fiber in it, so I threw it to the center of the curbstone."  There is nothing wrong with any of the preceeding spelling, save that it is written in American English. 

  14. Suzie says:

    "I am more amazed that so many people put a comma in front of the word "and".  I was always taught not to do this and, in fact, cannot do it.  Have things changed now?"
     
    It\’s called an Oxford comma, and is a stylistic choice.  Nowadays it is more common, but it\’s still correct to omit it.

  15. Pandora says:

    Our word \’centre\’ comes from the French word, but \’Center\’ does not,
    Americans tend to spell the words how they sound! English as we know it
    is made up of many languages including German, French, and even old
    Norse…look it up for yourself. Is it any wonder that it is the most
    difficult language to learn? 🙂

    Jen: I have seen similar research and yes it is true…as long as the
    first and last letters are correct, one can still read it perfectly
    well.

    A.S: Yes there is only one correct spelling but many words are
    pronounced the same, and then context becomes an
    issue…whether/weather, there/their, hear/here etc… as for making
    the point of schooling irrelevant…hahaha, have you looked at some
    of the schools lately, I really don\’t think the children would be
    missing out on much do you? LoL (Laugh Out Loud).

  16. SARA says:

    Mat Williams, it\’s a bit hypocritical to pick Nibbles up on his/her spelling whilst you are using non standard grammatical practices, by not using commas or capital letters! 
     
    Suzanne, commas after \’and\’ appear to be a feature we have picked up from studying the patterns of spoken English.  It is because when introducing a phrase with \’and\’ in our speech, we do tend to pause there, for dramatic effect or whatever.  If the writer wants to create the same effect of a pause, they use the comma.
     
    I think it\’s a good thing that the English language is constantly changing and evolving to suit our needs and wishes.
     

  17. SARA says:

    Mat Williams, it\’s a bit hypocritical to pick Nibbles up on his/her spelling whilst you are using non standard grammatical practices, by not using commas or capital letters! 
     
    Suzanne, commas after \’and\’ appear to be a feature we have picked up from studying the patterns of spoken English.  It is because when introducing a phrase with \’and\’ in our speech, we do tend to pause there, for dramatic effect or whatever.  If the writer wants to create the same effect of a pause, they use the comma.
     
    I think it\’s a good thing that the English language is constantly changing and evolving to suit our needs and wishes.
     

  18. Carey says:

    Interesting.I have a query regarding abbreviations.  I always thought that the abbreviation of until is \’til.  However, I keep seeing it written as till.  I  was under the impression that this referred to a shop till, or a farming term (eg. to till the land).  Can any of you clever people out there help?

  19. Michael says:

    \’til is an abbreviation of until.  Till is a separate, different word but has the same meaning.  If only ….. more people would learn to use one OR the other, and write them correctly.     Center is another gross Americanism : the spelling is c-e-n-t-r-e.

  20. Claire says:

    I ageree wieth the purson whhoze comeant is at the botum. I have allso seen the artikle wear you can make out what is writen as long as the first and lazt leterrs are curect.
     
    As long as we can understand each other, we should make allowances for each other. Not everyone has such excellent spelling.
     
    And provided you can make out what the person is trying to tell you, what harm does it really do?
     
    I\’m sure you were able to read the first two lines of this comment….and probably were quite pleased that you could.
     
    (For the record it\’s quite hard to mispell the first part of this message. You should try it!!\’)
     
    Anyway, lets do ourselves a favour and accept that we\’re not all excellent spellers.

  21. julie says:

    In a list, for example: David Bowie, Roxy Music, Depeche Mode, Stevie Wonder, Belle and Sebastian, and Bob Marley, it is sometimes easier on the reader to include a comma before the final \’and\’ if one of the items in the list contains \’and\’ itself.A comma before \’and\’ can also be used to literary effect, and how!"I think it\’s a good thing that the English language is constantly changing and evolving to suit our needs and wishes"- totally agree. However, you still need to know the basics in order to build something wonderful. Txtrs tk nt!

  22. Sian says:

    If it\’s something important I think you should definitely spell correctly, if it\’s a text or email etc, it doesn\’t matter how you spell, anything in between I think people should at least try and spell properly but it\’s not the end of the world if people make a few mistakes, but it is a bit annoying when every word is wrong and it\’s hard to read, like is \’nt\’ not, note or ain\’t?!

  23. Michael says:

    no name (s): Til is a variation on till. An alteration that is nonstandard but a word in its own right. Til is not an abbreviation of until. I think that you will find that an abbrev. of a word is considered to be the same word as it\’s spelled-out form, in this case, abbreviation. You won\’t find many abbrev. in the dictionary. Acronyms, yes, abbreviations, no. In the sense that people use til in place of until in a familiar, joking way-as in advertisements: \’Open \’til midnight!\’, the use of til is just lazy English.
     
    Till is properly used as a noun or verb, as well as as a preposition or conjunction with the same meaning as until when used as a prep. or conj. By the way, till is from Old English, so this is one that you can not blame on the Yanks. Till is also the older of these three words: Till, until and til. Till is not a perversion of until or til. Freely use it. Or the other two. Quite frankly, who cares if some constipated language nazi , (myself included), doesn\’t like it? Where did I get this information? The Oxford English Dictionary. An actual book, so no, no link. Look it up.
     
    Do you know where I do find common acceptance of the usage of til? The good old U.S.A. Reference: Webster\’s International Dictionary. The acknowledged source for American English. So I guess that no name (at 8:52 P.M.) has a secret love-jones going on for Americans! You can\’t fool us no name; pretending to be a hateful crackpot! You sly dog.

  24. Sana says:

    well i got 9/10 for the spelling test. i guess im a good speller eh? 😀

  25. ben says:

    I\’m sorry, but as an English user of the English language, I do not like Americanisms. I understand that the idea is to simplify the often inconsistent and irregular rules of English spelling, but I think that many of the rules are ill-conceived and often more messy than the original English rules. For example, the use of \’z\’ in verbs looks, in my opinion, clumsy and untidy – \’revolutionizing\’ is a far inferior word to \’revolutionising\’, for example. Also, I feel the whole centre/center fiasco is non-sensical; the standardised [not standardized] use of one option, as in British English, is better than the mixture employed by American English.
     
    One of the most infuriating spelling mistakes made by all English authors is the confused use of \’practise\’ and \’practice\’. The inability of most people to distinguish between the verb [practise] and the noun [practice] is, to me, often vexing.
     
    The only thing that annoys me more than the mixed use of those two words is the improper use of the apostrophe. How so many people can write \’it\’s\’ when \’its\’ is intended, and vice versa, is understandable, but I still do not appreciate it. What is completely unfathomable is the extraordinary range of situations in which some people consider the apostrophe necessary, as though it is a default punctuation mark. For example, today I saw a shop, called \’Gordon\’s D.I.Y. Shop\’ – perfect grammar, thank goodness! Unfortunately it was let down by its sign for a special offer: \’Gate\’s made from only £35\’. Excruciating!

  26. brian says:

    i always thought "centre" was a noun ,but "center",a verb, as in" centering the screw " or to "center " the screw
    and yes "center" ,used as a noun is an americanism. but the one americanism which really annoys me is   MATH,
    the abbreviation is MATHS. the singular form ,mathmatic is now archaic and i have never heard it used. 

  27. Unknown says:

    Those whom have more than half a brain can read anything – troulbe is when that people that are educationally superior; though retarded in other ways. They were frightened to leave the class-room and stayed there ever since. Bring on the superintel and get rid of theses fairground candy-flossies ruining youngsters education through rules that only they can use – they would be illiterate without them and more obscure than the deepest autistic ….I am on the spectrum…what if we had been the teachers of education ?… you would have failed the same standards you judge others by – get a life and get real, we are not all lawyers studying finest detail of how to pervert English to our own clients abuse and use. Terry Manchester, UK

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