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Top 20 misspelt words in English

It’s always interesting to read the results of studies relating to language. The Telegraph, an English newspaper, recently reported on a study of the most commonly misspelt words in English. The top twenty misspelt words creates an interesting list – many of the words are words that an IELTS student might use in their writing. Do you think you would be able to remember how to spell all of the words in the list correctly?

Top 20 misspelt words:

1. Separate

2. Definitely

3. Manoeuvre

4. Embarrass

5. Occurrence

6. Consensus

7. Unnecessary

8. Acceptable

9. Broccoli

10. Referred

11. Bureaucracy

12. Supersede

13. Questionnaire

14. Connoisseur

15. A lot

16. Entrepreneur

17. Particularly

18. Liquify

19. Conscience

20. Parallel

You can read the full article here. Make sure that you read through the comments at the end of the article. Some of the commenters make interesting points.

vocabulary for describing data on graphs : fluctuate

The verb is to fluctuate. The noun is fluctuation. This is when the data on a graph goes both up and down. The rises and falls may not be regular but they are constant.

The President’s popularity has fluctuated during his term in office.

There has been a constant fluctuation in the President’s popularity over the last few years

vocabulary for describing data on graphs : rise

If there is an upward trend in a graph, there is a rise. A rise can be slight (not vey big) or dramatic (very quick and noticeable.) A rise can also be rapid (happens over a short period of time.) A rise that happens over a long period can be a slow rise. If a rise happens little by little, it is a gradual rise.

Why are words so confusing?

Read the following sentences. Can you work out what is wrong with them? Perhaps you can easily spot the errors and correct them but are you able to explain what the errors are? Giving this kind of explanation is good language practice : you have to be very precise and clear so that there is no doubt that you understand what the problem is.

My English teacher gave me lots of good advise about the IELTS exam.

Here’s how you would explain the error. Notice the level of detail in the explanation:

Advise is a verb (to advise someone to do something = verb + object + infinitive) but a noun is needed in this sentence. We know this because advise is preceded by an adjective (good) so an adjective+noun combination is needed. This is an example of a confusing word : a word which has a similar meaning to another word but is used in a different way, is related to another word but has a different meaning or one which looks similar to another word but has a different meaning. The noun needed in this sentence is advice.

Advise is used in this way –

Our English teacher advised us to have an early night before the IELTS exam.

Can you give a complete explanation of why the following sentences are wrong?

1. Strong coffee doesn’t effect me at all.
2. There are strong economical arguments for having high taxation at the moment.
3. He was so busy to do his homework.
4. Do you think there is an opportunity of life on Mars?
5. I was standing besides the IELTS examiner.

Think about your explanations. Do they make the errors clear? Have you given good examples of how to use the word used incorrectly? make sure that you note down these confusing words and try to use them correctly in your speaking and your writing.

Why not post your explanations in the comments box? Other users can check them and decide if they are correct or not. Full explanations are here.

There is plenty of material in this book to help you to improve your vocabulary for the IELTS exam. It covers the main vocabulary areas that you need for the IELTS exam.

Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS includes useful tips on how to approach the IELTS exam tasks and covers especially tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes.