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Spelling Demons

Frustrated young woman, shaking her fists

Don't be frustrated! You CAN master your spelling demons. No matter our age, we all have at least a few pesky words that confound us.  Don't give up!

You can increase your spelling skills when you:

  • identify a handful of words that most often give you trouble
  • memorize the correct spelling for each word, and/or
  • figure out a trick to help you remember to spell them correctly

Common Spelling Demons

Partial List of our Spelling Demons, along with tips for remembering the correct usage and spelling of each

Sometimes the biggest "demons" in your own writing are NOT the words that weird, obscure and very long. Rather, they are more frequently-used words that are easily confused with other words.

Here's our list of devilish words. We've included a brief definition of these words. You'll also see some tricks to help you remember some of them in bold.

Printable version of our list of Spelling Demons

accept to receive
except other than; Everyone came except Tex.
affect to have an influence on
effect result; effects of contaminated beef...
allusion an indirect reference
illusion misleading belief or perception; Her good health was only an illusion. She was actually very ill.
altogether entirely; completely
all together all at the same time; All of us are together in the car.
ascent a movement upward; The scent of the skunk sent me running up the hill
assent agreement
counsel advice given to someone else, or to advise
Wise counsel sells
council a group of people selected to advise others
descent a movement downward; descent - decline
dissent disagreement
desert to abandon, or an arid place;  
Sahara desert has just one s
dessert after-dinner course
elicit to bring out
illicit illegal;   Both illicit and illegal begin with il
gorilla a large primate;  Do you like gorillas or apes best?
guerilla a type of soldier
loose not tight; The noose was loose.
lose to come to be without something; lose your keys
quiet making no sound
quite completely; That's quite a nice kite.
straight without a bend
strait narrow passage of water; I can't wait to ride through the straits.
weather the state of the atmosphere, including temperature, wind, moisture, etc.
whether introduces the first choice; Whether he goes or stays, he must decide soon.
which one of a group
witch a sorcerer;  The witch outwitted the fox.

Check This Out!

A friend recently send me this cute and helpful blog post about some of these same words, and similarly confusing ones, too. Enjoy!


Important Note

Many spelling demons are actually homonyms, such as capital/capitol and principle/principal. Learn more about confusing homonyms on this helpful page.

More Spelling Helps

You may also be interested in these lists of difficult words:

We have an assortments of spelling lessons and lots, lots more tips. Find links to all of them here.

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