English can be a complicated language with words and homophones that even the most astute writers can mix up every now and then. However, these mistakes can be preventable if you are aware of them. Here, we break down the correct ways to use and write some of the most commonly confused and misspelled words.
Then vs. Than
One of the most frequent spelling mistakes occurs with “then” vs. “than.” “Then” is associated with time or events that happen in order of one another. For instance, you would write, “I will go home; then I will shower.” Meanwhile, “than” shows a comparison or relationship between objects or people. For example: “Susie is taller than Jenna.”
Palate vs. Palette
When you use the word “palate,” you are talking about a person’s sense of taste. However, when discussing a “palette,” you are referring to colors. For instance: “The spicy dish needs to be toned down to be more suitable for those with sensitive palates.” Or: “I enjoy the varied palette of colors you used in your living room.” To make things even more confusing, the spelling “pallet” describes a flat wooden structure that transports goods.
Today, many use the word “plethora” to mean “a lot” or “many.” But this is incorrect. “Plethora” actually means “too many” or an “overabundance” of something.
“Infamous” is often misused to mean “extremely famous.” However, “infamous” actually means “well-known for a bad quality.” So, for example, you would use the term to say, “The infamous burglar robbed another store downtown.”
The word “acknowledgment” is often misspelled as acknowledgement (with an extra “e”). However, technically, it depends on where you are. In British English, the preferred spelling is “acknowledgement.” No wonder this one is so difficult!
The word “espresso” (correct spelling) is often mispronounced as “expresso,” thus contributing to the frequent misspelling of the word.
There vs. Their vs. They’re
Last but certainly not least, we have a trio of misspelled homophones: “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” “There” refers to a location, whereas “their” signifies possession or ownership. For instance, you would say, “The bay is a fun place; we are going there tomorrow.” Meanwhile, you would say, “Their dog should go to the groomer for a haircut.” Finally, “they’re” is a contraction used to designate the words “they are.” For example, “I wonder where they’re going.”