Published 8th February 2019


Spelling is one of those things that you can either do or you can’t. It’s something we are all taught in school but somehow some of us seem to have the spelling gene while the rest of us rely on spellcheck a bit more than we’d like to admit. In this blog we feature 7 of the particularly confusing  words to spell in English for native speakers and English language learners.

Embarassment or embarrassment?

Accommodation or accomodation?

A lot or alot?

But as an English as a Foreign Language teacher it is important that you are sure of your spelling to avoid teaching your students incorrect spelling. Truth be told, English is a tricky language anyway so there are loads of words which even native speakers who are good spellers have to think twice about. Silent letters (answer, dumb, knight), homophones (vein, vain, vane), heteronyms (converse – to talk or the reverse), and flimsy spelling rules (I before e except after c, except for either, foreign, seize, weird), all make English spelling difficult to master.

7 words  particularly confusing for native speakers and English language learners alike.


Though it looks like it should be pronounced as it is spelt, this word is actually pronounced indite, hence the confusion with the spelling. Indict means to formally accuse someone of or charge someone with a crime.


Because it sounds like genius, many people assume that it is spelt the same way but with in at the beginning. Alas, it is not so. The fact that it means clever, original and inventive probably doesn’t help either.


Considering the verb is pronounce, it’s not surprising that many people misspell this word.


So many problems with this word. Beware the two c’s which are often forgotten. Acquiesce means to comply or agree without question.


How can a colour be so confusing! The pronunciation would have you believe the s would come somewhere before the h but unfortunately, this word actually comes from the German surname of a botanist – hence the reason this word refers to a colour (bright pink) as well as a flower.


The ending of this word is pronounced –ia ­­which causes endless problems with spellers and non-spellers the world over. Onomatopoeia refers to words which are formed from the sounds they represent, for example boing, splash, clap.


Even fans of the fast food chain often get this one wrong! A colonel is a senior ranking military official, though the title is pronounced the same as a kernel of corn.

Just when our learners thought learning English couldn’t get any harder, we have to introduce them to all the funny little idiosyncrasies (there’s another one!) of English.  To make sure we set them on the right path to correct spelling, make sure you know your accept from your except!

Just FYI, it’s embarrassment, accommodation and a lot