Can You Spell These Common English Words?


By: Beth Hendricks

6 Min Quiz

Image: bluecinema/ E+/ Getty Images

About This Quiz

Let's just get one thing out of the way upfront: Spelling these days has gone right down the drain. "WYD," "OMW" and "BRB" have become more commonplace than "What are you doing?," "On my way!," and "Be right back."  Why? Well, texting has a lot to do with it. We started trying to send texts on early phones equipped with only numbered keypads. Typing anything very lengthy — it just took too long. (Even a "hello" would require you to punch in, "4433555555666.") Abbreviations just made it simpler to communicate. 

Fast-forward to the 2000s and we got smartphones with complete keyboards, but it was too late: We'd already adopted that shorthand way of typing as its own form of language. And, we won't lie: It works. But, as self-professed, certified "word nerds," whatever happened to the days of complete words and full sentences — with punctuation, please?

This quiz won't test your "text speak" (we have one for that, though), but it will test your ability to remember the spelling of common English words. Can you spell the name of the word for baubles on your wrist, neck and ears? What about another term for your hobbies? Maybe you're not a professional, but one of these when it comes to spelling? One thing is sure: We g-u-a-r-a-n-t-e-e you'll have fun with this one!

It's bad enough to spell a word incorrectly, but it's even worse to spell this word wrong. Which is correct?

We thought we'd start with a word that represents this whole quiz — misspell. Did you "misspell" it or get it correct? Double Ss and double Ls can make this a tricky one to get right.


You may know how to say it, but do you know how to spell this word that means "how something sounds?"

Being able to spell something correctly is one thing, but do you also know its "pronunciation?" Consider it the spoken equivalent of the proper written spelling. Both are important to make you sound extra smart!


Some people wear decorative ones in suits; others are used for blowing your nose. Which is the proper spelling?

You may abbreviate it as "hankie" to avoid having to spell the full thing, but it's always good to know the correct spelling of any word! This one can be tricky because it's usually pronounced without the "D" sound in there.


Al Yankovic made a name for himself using this descriptive word. Which one is correct?

That's "Weird Al" Yankovic to you, a man who has been entertaining people with his comedic songs since the mid-1970s. He became famous for tunes like, "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" and "White & Nerdy."


An eye doctor might do this to your eyes in order to see inside them. Which is the correct spelling?

An eye doctor may choose to dilate your eyes in order to better determine the health of your vision. The process of dilation allows components inside the eye to be viewed more clearly and carefully.


Commit a crime and a grand jury might decide to do which of these to you?

If you commit a crime, local prosecutors may present their case to a grand jury, which will decide whether to "indict," or charge, you with a crime. Grand jury indictments are usually applied only to the most serious cases.


If you're not a professional, most people would probably consider you this. Can you spell it?

Athletes who play in the NFL, NBA or MLB are professionals for sure. Athletes who play at the collegiate level, while talented, are usually considered amateurs because they don't accept money and may be less skilled.


Sunday through Saturday, January to December, this item will tell you what's happening. Which is the right spelling?

Today, most of us use a calendar system known as the Gregorian calendar, which follows a 12-month pattern from January to December. There have been plenty of other types of calendars throughout history, though, including the Roman, Julian and Mayan.


Not getting along with your spouse? You may decide to do this, but can you spell it?

We'll let you in on a little secret: A teacher a long time ago gave us a trick to remember how to spell this one. Just remember that there's "a rat" in "separate." Do you see it? Now, use it to help you remember!


The ceilings were too low to ____________ Shaq's 7-ft., 1-in. frame. Which properly-spelled word fills the blank?

You'd need some pretty tall ceilings to accommodate Shaquille O'Neal. The former NBA superstar clocks in at 7-ft., 1-in. tall and, while we're not ones to judge, he also tips the scale at 320-plus pounds. He's a big man!


Football players sometimes like to assure their fans of a win. Which of this is the correct spelling of a word similar to "assure?"

Athletes may like to promise their fans a win, but there's no "guarantee" it'll happen! That's why they play the game, after all. It wouldn't be much fun to watch if one team was guaranteed a victory.


If you're not a registered Republican or Democrat, you may belong to this group of voters who aren't affiliated with either party. How is it spelled?

Independent voters choose that designation because they don't want to affiliate with either the Republican or Democratic parties. Independent voters are at a disadvantage sometimes, though: They typically cannot vote in primaries.


Not maybe, not perhaps, but ___________. How do you spell it?

If you got this one right, you are "definitely" a word genius! The word "definitely" just means there is no doubt about something. Are you going to have fun finishing this quiz? Definitely!


Earrings, necklaces and bracelets are part of a category of accessories known as this. Which is the right spelling?

Jewelry pieces, such as fun bangles, dangly earrings and statement necklaces, are a great way to jazz up any outfit. Most historians believe that the act of wearing jewelry dates all the way back to Cro-Magnon era.


Spend enough time in one of these and your spelling will go from "eh" to "ah." What is it?

We'll be honest: A library is one of our favorite places. Maybe it's because it's quiet or maybe it's because it's full of books that can transport you to another time and place. Either way, if we ever go missing, start the search there!


We use this word to refer to a group of people born between the early-1980s and the mid-1990s. Can you spell it?

If you know someone as a "millennial," that means they were most likely born in the period of time from the 1980s to the mid-1990s. As a group, they come just after the age range known as Generation X.


Have a favorite hobby? If so, you've probably referred to it as this a time or two. How is it spelled?

You may "pass the time" doing it, but the synonym for the word "hobby" is spelled p-a-s-t-i-m-e. Seems like it's missing a letter (or two), doesn't it? But, it's not. It's correct with just one "S" and one "T."


He (or she) is the one in charge of a school full of students and teachers. Do you know how to spell it?

We hope we didn't trick you with this one! The word "principle" is, in fact, a correct spelling, but the wrong choice for this definition. A "principal" is the one charged with leadership over a school.


The 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt, is credited with this saying: "__________ you can and you're halfway there." Which spelling fits the blank?

Roosevelt hit the nail on the head with this one! Sometimes, all it takes to get something done is to "believe" that you can do it. The mind is half the battle; the rest is convincing your body to go along with it!


Be sure to grab this when you make a purchase, in case you need to return anything. How is this word spelled?

It's another one of those words that appears to have a random letter (this time a "P") in it, but it belongs there! We tend to pronounce this word so that we don't hear the "P," which is why spelling it can be a challenge.


If you're a dancer (or aspire to be one), you probably need a natural sense of this to excel. How is it spelled?

The word "rhythm" is strange-looking, isn't it? It's because, in this case, the "Y" is treated as a vowel; yet, it doesn't look like one! Rhythm is the concept of moving in time with the beat of music.


Our least favorite household chore involves this apparatus. Can you spell it?

It's true; we hate having to use a vacuum, but it's a necessary evil. Speaking of "evil," that's an evil kind of spelling, isn't it? Two "U's" side-by-side gives this word not only an interesting look, but also an unusual sound.


This word means "they are," but people struggle more with its usage than its spelling. Which is it?

Ah, the great they're/their/there debate! Will it ever end? We'll continue to champion for using the right word in the right case. In this instance, it's "they're," which means "they are."


If you've ever stood in line awaiting your turn, you've been in one of these. Can you spell it?

A "queue" is a line of sorts where you're waiting your turn for something, such as paying for your groceries or getting a new driver's license. With two U's and two E's, it's almost all vowels!


Someone might ask you to serve on one of these, but do you know how to spell it?

Schools, governments and even workplaces have groups dedicated to specific purposes, sometimes called committees. A committee may do everything from creating rules to creating new cafeteria options.


Good spelling isn't all that's important; good ___________ is too! How is it spelled?

Maybe you're already an expert speller, but how's your grammar? The word "grammar" is associated with how sentences are put together. Good grammar, in fact, can make sentences easier to read!


You may close a written letter with this word, particularly if it's for professional purposes. Can you spell it?

We "sincerely" hope you chose the correct spelling of this one! The word "sincerely" is often used to close business letters, probably because it means that you are trying to convey that you are genuine or real in your feelings.


If you don't get it done today, you might opt to do it when?

Some words have double consonants, some don't, and some have only one — as in the case of "tomorrow." It can be hard to remember whether to include two Ms or two Rs, though. Maybe you'll figure it out ... tomorrow?


Something that is considered essential, such as food and water, could also be called by which of these words?

There aren't very many things in life that are "necessary": food, water, new shoes. Wait, how'd that last one get in there? We do love us some new shoes, but they certainly aren't essential like the other two.


The ______________ of a country is what makes its rules and laws. Can you choose the correct spelling?

The term "government" is a bit challenging because of that somewhat silent "N" there in the middle. An easy way to remember to include it is to think about what the government does: It governs!


You can do things privately or you can do them in this manner. Just be careful which you choose! Which of these is the proper spelling?

If you do something "publicly," be careful: You never know who may be watching! The word "publicly" means, of course, that something is being done out in the open — in public, so to speak.


Cats and dogs are known to like doing this to one another. What is it?

Sometimes cats and dogs just don't get along. Other times, they simply like to "harass," or pester, one another. The word "harass" actually comes from the French "harer," which means to "set a dog on." Pretty appropriate for our question, wouldn't you say?


We prefer Fridays, but some people are fans of this day, known affectionately as "Hump Day." How do you spell it?

It comes smack in between Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, which makes "Hump Day" an appropriate nickname, since you're "over the hump" of the first part of the week. We still live for Fridays, though.


Has this quiz been a ___________? It will be if you can get this one right! Which is it?

The word "success" simply means that something favorable has happened. You may be successful at work, at home or in your community. Heck, you may even be successful at finishing this quiz!


This person is one who helps create links between other people or organizations. Do you know how to spell it?

Phew! We ended with a tricky one! The word "liaison" is one of those words where its letters look out of place ... even when they aren't! "Liaison" comes from the French and means "to bind."


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