Spell-Write (Part 3)

spellcheckThere are certain words that even I, an exceptionally good speller, get wrong occasionally. One pair of words used to be “desert” and “dessert.” Used to be, as opposed to still is, because, when I was a fifth grade teacher, one of my students taught me a trick. She said, “You always want more dessert, so there’s two s’s in that word!” I have never forgotten that and can cross that pair off my list of confusion.

Since I was a math teacher for many years, I know that complementary angles are two whose sum is 90 degrees. I can also remember that red and green are complementary colors, as are yellow and purple. (For those who are curious, the complement of a primary color – red, yellow or blue – is the color you get by mixing the other two.) And complimentary? That’s easy – I love getting compliments on my writing, my fashion statements and my cooking. But, I have yet to find a way to remember “complimentary,” as in “free.” So, I always have to check myself before using the correct word.

acceptThat said, I have continued on my quest to find public signs with misspelled words. I offer the following: Is there something inherent in food stamps that is missing in credit cards? Why is one accepted and the other excepted?

Finally, in this Space for Rent sign, I could see a lot more possibility for misspelling warehouse (wherehouse? wairhouse? wharehouse?) and offices (ofices? offises?) than night! But, far be it for me to say which of those words the sign maker found a challenge. Like the others, it will become part of my “Misspelled Photo Montage” which I will seek to exhibit in the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Dedham, Massachusetts. Look for it.night


  1. I remember my mom taught me that ‘separate’ had ‘a rat’ in it.

    For a long time I had a mental block with ‘fundamental’ (I tended towards ‘fundimental’). There have been a couple other nemesis words for me (‘guarantee’) — usually (as with ‘fundamental’) a vowel confusion. Learning to mentally “hear” the word properly helps: “fun-da-mental” not “fun-di-mental”. And “gar-ran-tee” not “gar-ren-tee”. The only other rule I remember the old, “i after e, except after c.”

    (Coincidentally, I have a post about color–a subject near and dear to my heart–planned for the near future! It’s mostly written and in draft now, but will probably get pushed until after the holidays. I have an idea that’ll give the post some zip!)

  2. What would you say about a blogger who thinks the home of the Museum of Bad Art is in Denham? It’s actually in DEDHAM, Mass.

    • Yikes! I would say that Blogger didn’t do his homework. Will fix ASAP. Thanks for your correction.

  3. Stationary and stationery are the two I ALWAYS have to think about: the “e” as in envelope never occurs to me until I’ve already thought about it too long! Love posts on spelling but I’m weird that way.

    • Yes, there certainly are pairs of words that present challenges, but we smart folks wouldn’t send something out to be published without checking words we’re not certain of. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Some such errors are typos, so people should be more careful if they care!

    • Disagree. Don’t be so soft; it is my opinion that most are NOT typos, they are the result of ignorance and apathy (BTW do you know the difference between IGNORANCE and APATHY? Ans: I don’t know and I don’t care.)

  5. How about “I love free stuff.” for remembering the “i” in compliment? Oh, and on the inside of the exam room door at a recent doctor appointment, I noted a sign reading “We are now open Saturday’s.” Arlene will be proud of me for spotting that one, I thought.

    • Thanks, good idea! Doctor’s office sign? Shame on them! Maybe they can use their extra Saturday time to study up on spelling a little.

  6. Jordana

    Free LIMES! You’ve taught me a few – sepArate (dissect a rat!) and definItely (finite). And, not really a misspelling but I finally figured out how to remember when to use Affect vs. Effect – but it requires a cartoon….maybe I’ll forward it to you!

    • Ah, yes, good method….I’ll keep that in mInd.

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