FREE Printables Language Arts Spelling

Common Spelling Errors and How to Avoid Them

For emerging readers and writers, spelling can be very challenging. Word processing systems don’t catch all of the misspellings. Check out these common spelling errors and how to avoid them.

Spelling Errors and How to Avoid Them


Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. The English language has so many homophones, and many of them are sight or high frequency words that early readers will encounter often.

Some homophones include:


  • two, too, to
  • your, you’re
  • there. they’re, their
  • it’s, its
  • ate, eight
  • knew, newUse homophones together in sentences to help differentiate meaning and reinforce spelling. For example, try “The two girls invited Maddy to the store, and I came too.” Your reader will see that two describes more than one girl, to is used as a preposition (or motion, direction), and too means also.


Adding apostrophes to form contractions can be a little confusing. Words like can’t, let’s, and didn’t are commonly misspelled when the apostrophe is dropped.

The best way to avoid contraction infractions is by teaching your children how each contraction is developed. Start with cannot. Show your children that the no (letters between the can and t) becomes the apostrophe to combine both words. Writing out the words and corresponding contractions next to one another will help your children remember how to use them correctly.

I before E except after C. . .

The old saying i before e except after c is broken quite often in the English language, making it easy for common spelling errors to pop up when this vowel combination is used.

Sometimes, an additional phrase is added to that rule to help with common misspellings. Tell your children the extra phrase when they are starting to encounter words with “eigh” spellings.

. . .or when sounded like “a” as in “neighbor” and “weigh.”

Words with “eigh” like “eight”, “neighbor”, and “weigh” fit the long a sound exception, but not all words follow these two tips for using i before e. It gets a little confusing when the sound is not a long a sound like in “height”.

Some words that have a gerund (-ing) ending also break this rule. These words include being and seeing. Still other words like “weird” and “their”.

More complicated misspellings exist that break this “rule”, but these are the most frequent young readers will encounter.

Teaching the rhyme to help with the misspellings is a start, but with so many exceptions, using flashcards with pictures and words to help students remember common spelling errors is a great way to avoid repeating them again and again.

Check out online games and printables to practice and avoid more spelling errors. We love Winning Words’ Homophone Match, Asteroids (to help with ey, eigh, and ei words), and Contraction Action. As for any reading and writing skill, practice will make permanent. Keep reviewing these common spelling errors and how to avoid them to help your young readers!


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About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - and

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