The Letter “A”: History and Commonly Misspelled Words

If you write, you know how important correct spelling is. Many people are excellent spellers, but the best of us sometimes misspell words. Spell checkers help, but even they can’t find every misspelled word. That’s why, over this year, I’m going to be writing posts that contain lists of commonly misspelled words. Every few weeks, I’ll publish a list for a different letter, including a little history about it, and then the list of commonly misspelled words.

 

How can I use these lists?

Go through them and make note of the words you know you misspell often. Or, save them and refer to them when you’re writing something. You might even search your documents for different words to see if you’ve misspelled them.

Without further ado, here’s a little history of the letter “A,” followed by a list of commonly misspelled words beginning with the letter “A”.

History of the letter “A”

The letter “A” has stood at the beginning of the alphabet during its entire history. During the Phoenecian period, the name of the letter looked like the Hebrew name “aleph,” which meant “ox.” The Greeks took over the letter in the form of alpha. In the Phoencian alphabet, the letter stood for a species of breathing, because vowels weren’t represented in the Semitic alphabets. The sound it consistently stood for in Greek and Latin was an open back vowel, sometimes called the continental “A” in English. The A’s sound has gone a lot of changes since the Middle English period because of fronting, which means pronouncing sounds more toward the front of the mouth, or to rounding – slightly rounding the lips, which causes the sound to be pronounced higher in the mouth. Now, the letter A represents six main sounds:

  1. It’s original pronunciation, which was like the “a” in the word father;
  2. A more intermediate sound as in the word plain;
  3. A closer vowel pronounced more towards the front of the mouth, as in the word “hare,”
  4. A diphthong, or what we call a long “a” sound, as in the word “spade,” or “take”
  5. The sound that we hear in the word “water,”
  6. The sound that we hear in the word “was”

And now, for the list of commonly misspelled words beginning with the letter “A” –

Abdicate
Absence
Academically
Accelerator
Accessible
Acclaim
Acclimated
Accommodate
Accompanied
Accomplish
Accumulate
Achievement
Acknowledge
Acoustics
Acquaintance
Acquitted
Acute
Adequately
Adjacent
Adjective
Admission
Admittance
Adolescent
Adultery
Advantageous
Adverb
Advertisement
Aerial
Aerobic
Aggravate
Algebraic
Alleged
Allegiance
Alliance
Alliteration
Allotting
Almanac
Already
Altogether
Amateur
Amateur
Ambassador
Among
Analogy
Analysis
Analyze
Anecdote
Angle
Annihilate
Annual
Annul
Antagonist
Antithesis
Apartheid
Apartment
Apologetically
Apparatus
Apparent
Appearance
Appositive
Aptitude
Arguing
Argument
Arrangement
Ascend
Aspirin
Assessment
Associative
Assonance
Asterisk
Atheist
Athletics
Attendance
Attitude
Autumn
Auxiliary
Awfully

How many of these surprised you? Some surprised me, some didn’t; many of these words have double consonants, or silent letters in them. For example, “ascend” – I can somehow understand how someone would misspell that “asend” or “assend.” And “autumn” – I even have to remind myself that it has an “n” at the end of it even though I don’t hear it.

I hope you’ve found this list helpful. If you have any other ideas for how to use these lists, feel free to mention them in the comments – I love to hear how my advice is helping others improve their writing.

Be sure to stay tuned for the list of commonly misspelled words beginning with the letter “B,” which will be published in a few weeks.

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