Let’s file this discussion under: Random Things That Cross My Mind on a Monday Morning. And yes, I did check to confirm that I had spelled “misspell” correctly.
I have no formal English background other than what was required, by law, via my provincial public school curriculum, along with a few elective courses in university. Still, you’d think by this point in my life I could remember how to spell words like balloon or marshmallow without my brain cells collapsing in an exhausted heap.
For the record, I did spell balloon and marshmallow correctly above – on my first try, no less. But it’s not infrequent that I find myself writing down ballon or marshmellow.
Other words that regularly trip me up:
- Occasionally. I always, always want to add a second ‘s’.
- Accommodate. This was a real beast for me to manage as I worked on a project for several years where I had to spell the word accommodate almost daily. Maybe because of my hangups with occasionally, I was always tempted to drop the second ‘m.’ I have only learned to spell accommodate correctly by sheer force of will, repeating over and over again that accommodate includes a double ‘m’.
- Colleague. I get hives whenever I have to write this word. I managed to get it right on my first attempt for this blog post, but I’d say that only happens 25% of the time.
- Travelling. Does it have one ‘l’ or two? I can never remember. FYI: it’s two ‘l’s’ for British English and one ‘l’ for American English. Which opens up a whole other can of worms. While I quite enjoy throwing an extra “u” into words like neighbour and favour and colour, I can’t remember when I’m actually misspelling a word versus when I’m just using the British or American equivalent. Defence (British) vs defense (American); licence (British) vs license (American). It’s a gong show living here in Canada: we’re part of the Commonwealth but geographically closer to America. I do prefer the British spelling for most words, but am not always consistent in what I choose. For example, I would spell a children’s doctor as a pediatrician (American), not paediatrician (British). I write instill (American) not instil (British). I write cheque and doughnut (British), but also skeptical and plow (American). Throwing all caution to the wind, I use grey and gray interchangeably, but with marked unease.
- Isaac. A truly embarrassing story: some of our closest friends have a son named Isaac. For years, on every Christmas gift or note I addressed him as Issac, with a double ‘s’ instead of a double ‘a’. Not once did he, or anyone else in this sweet family, point out my mistake. Eventually, I spelled it correctly – likely more by good luck than good management – and he made a comment about how incredible it was I had spelled his name correctly. Ever since, I still have to look up the name Isaac every time to make sure I have it spelled correctly. (To be fair, Issac is a less common variation of the name Isaac…but it is not the norm, this is not how this particular Isaac spelled his name, and really I was just hopelessly oblivious.)
To a lesser extent, the following food words can trip me up:
- Spaghetti. I always spell it correctly, but I always have to think.
The theme, I think, tends to be a major issue with the handling of double letters?
But that’s enough spelling for one day; my brain cells are starting to overheat.
Your turn. Do you reliably struggle with the spelling of certain words? If you live in Canada, do you primarily use British or American spelling? How do any American readers feel about all the extra “u’s” floating around? Do you notice?