black and white photo of a woman bumping her hand against her forehead as though she forgot something

Source: Doh, Auntie P, Flickr

A real elementary school once posted a “Congradulations” (rather than congratulations) sign for its two spelling bee winners. In another school, an excellent student speller was presented a certificate by her school district for her accomplishment in the county’s “speling” bee. While providing us with some good examples of irony, these mistakes are a reminder that no one is immune from spelling errors.

Another irony is that the word “misspell” often shows up on lists of commonly misspelled words. In this section, you’ll watch a video called “Mispeled Wirdz,” which reviews many common spelling errors.

Homophones, or words that are pronounced the same, are among the frequently misspelled. You already know when to use it’s and its. It’s, with an apostrophe, is a contraction for “it is” or “it has.” Its, with no apostrophe, is possessive. An apostrophe is out of place in this possessive, just as it would be out of place in “your’s” or “his’s.”

You might also know how to use the homophones they’re, their, and there, but if not, here’s a reminder. They’re is shorthand for “they are,” their is the possessive form for “they,” and there means “in or at that place.” In Woe is I, Patricia T. O’Conner shares a limerick using all three words.

The Dinner Guests

They seem to have taken on airs.
They’re ever so rude with their stares.
They get there quite late,
There’s a hand in your plate,
And they’re eating what's not even theirs.

Now it’s your turn. From each of the pairs, choose the word that is spelled correctly.

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