Grammar Spell Check |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Spell Check

An online company’s research department has revealed the top misspelled word in each state, based on search-engine queries.

In Iowa and Kentucky the chief troublemaker is maintenance. Arkansas and Utah apparently can’t spell leprechaun—but why would Arkansas and Utah want to? For irony aficionados: drought-plagued California’s top misspelled word is desert. Florida struggles with tomorrow (in more ways than one). Michigan and Oklahoma wonder how to spell gray. We wonder how to misspell it—both gray and grey are acceptable, and it’s hard to imagine any other option. Mississippi has trouble with sergeant, but in all fairness, many sergeants can’t spell Mississippi either. Oh, and Alaska can’t spell Hawaii.

Here is another of our spelling drills. In keeping with our policy, these are words that you hear all the time. You’ll find the answers directly below.

1. Her ___ is her mother’s best friend.

A) step father
B) steppfather
C) step-father
D) stepfather

2. The executives sent a letter of ___ to their best agent.

A) congrachulations
B) congradulations
C) congratulations
D) congrajulations

3. He was acting in ___ to his conscience.

A) obediance
B) obedience
C) obediense
D) obedianse

4. The changing of the seasons is a natural ___.

A) occurence
B) occurance
C) ocurrance
D) occurrence

5. The man wore a suit and had ___ just come from work.

A) evidently
B) evadentally
C) evadently
D) evidentally

6. Tests in the ___ have so far been encouraging.

A) labratory
B) laboratory
C) labrotory
D) laborotory

7. Shonda read the class an ___ from her new play.

A) excerpt
B) excerp
C) excert
D) exerpt

8. The movie was called a ___ by the critics.

A) debokle
B) dibacle
C) debacle
D) dibakle

9. Blane transformed the firm into a sleek ___ that dominated the market.

A) juggernot
B) jugernaut
C) juggernat
D) juggernaut

10. I think I’ll drive to ___ tomorrow.

A) Massachusets
B) Masachusetts
C) Massachusetts
D) Masachusets



1: D) stepfather

2: C) congratulations

3: B) obedience

4: D) occurrence

5: A) evidently

6: B) laboratory

7: A) excerpt

8: C) debacle

9: D) juggernaut

10: C) Massachusetts

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

4 responses to “Spell Check”

  1. Dave S. says:

    This article describing the difficulties that people in various states experience when spelling certain terms is certainly interesting. And yet, it’s the articles title, rather than its content, that draws my attention. It seems the computer software industry has desensitized even grammar mavens to the jarring effect of attempting to use a verb to modify a noun.

    • The term is idiomatic and familiar to all. While we might think twice before using it in a lecture at Oxford, we feel that an amiable informality for our posts is in the best interest of our readers and ourselves.

  2. David P. says:

    Can Americans spell ‘Aluminium” since they are all incapable of pronouncing it correctly? The second ‘i’ disappears when spoken. All the other elements of the Periodoc Table e.d ‘sodium’, cadmium’, ‘uranium’ all seem to have the ‘i’ pronounced. This american pronunciation annoys they ‘heck’ out of me. Unlikely to change unless educators do more to correct English pronunciation or we accept that American is another dialect/language.

    • You submitted essentially the same question to us in September 2015, when you commented on our post You Can Say That Again:

      “The word ‘aluminium’ should be pronounced as it is written viz. there is a second ‘I’. Why then does the USA drop the ‘I’ when verbally pronouncing it in speech. No other element is treated this way e.g. Cadmium, sodium, calcium. Time for American teachers to remedy this, particularly those teaching science and chemistry. Your thoughts?”

      We responded:

      “That ‘[n]o other element is treated this way’ is incorrect. Don’t forget molybedenum, tantalum, and platinum. Aluminum is actually the older spelling. Neither spelling is considered superior to the other; it’s just that one is used in North America and the other outside North America.”

      It’s unfortunate that such a regional difference in language “annoys” you. This is quite normal for languages around the world.

Leave a Comment or Question:

Please ensure that your question or comment relates to the topic of the blog post. Unrelated comments may be deleted. If necessary, use the "Search" box on the right side of the page to find a post closely related to your question or comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *