32 simple words that 5th graders can spell, but you probably get wrong all the time

jazbeck / GettyMisspelling a word like ’embarrass’ can be embarrassing.
  • The English language is as unpredictable as it is colourful.
  • From “grateful” to “disappear,” these common words are deceptively hard to spell.
  • “Occasion” gets two “c’s” and one “s.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Let’s face it – spelling is hard. Without spell check and autocorrect, our texts and emails would likely include a handful of typos.

From homophones such as “soar” and “sore” to words with doubled letters like “parallel” and “committee,” the English language is as unpredictable as it is colourful.

To find common words that are deceptively hard to spell, Insider searched for 5th-grade spelling lists. Keep reading to learn about 32 words that a 10-year-old student can spell, but you probably get wrong a lot.


Achieve

Christian Hartmann/ReutersRafael Nadal.

The “i before e” rule may have exceptions, but in this case it will help you “achieve” spelling success.


Receive

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty ImagesGift bags from the beauty store ULTA.

When you “receive” a “c,” you put “e” before “i.”


Disappear

REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstFormer Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, trying to disappear.

At first glance, “disappear” appears to have a tricky spelling. If you keep in mind that “dis-” is a Latin prefix, you’ll remember not to double the “s.”


Grateful

Sara R./YelpThe gratitude wall at Cafe Gratitude in Los Angeles.

It’s great to have gratitude, but there’s nothing great about “grateful.” In Latin, “grat” is a root word that means “pleasing, thankful, or favourable.”


Noticeable

Bryan Steffy/Getty ImagesKendall Jenner in costume.

If you pay attention, you’ll notice there’s an “e” in the middle of “noticeable.”


Cemetery

Meinzahn / iStockLafayette Cemetery in New Orleans.

Think Terry rather than tarry when spelling “cemetery.” The “-ery” suffix derives from the Old French “-erie.”


Embarrass

jazbeck / GettyMisspelling a word can be embarrassing.

You might feel humiliated if you misspell “embarrass,” a word whose double “r’s” come from the French “embarrasser.”


Occasion

Chris Jackson / GettyPrince William and Kate Middleton at their wedding in 2011.

A special event like a royal wedding is a good “occasion” to remember how to spell this word, which gets two “c’s” and one “s.”


Separate

HBOSarah Jessica Parker stars in the HBO series ‘Divorce.’

The spelling of “separate” is on par with its Latin etymology, a combination of “se-” (“apart”) and “parare” (“prepare”).


Fiery

Alison Millington / INSIDERA fiery cocktail.

You might feel the heat if someone asks you how to spell “fiery” – the “e” doesn’t go where you think it would.


Soar

REUTERS/Jim UrquhartDan McManus and his service dog Shadow hang glide together outside Salt Lake City, Utah, July 22, 2013.

Unless you’re talking about a bird with an injury, our feathered friends “soar” when they take to the sky.


Interrupt

Christopher Polk/Getty ImagesKanye West infamously interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

Formed from the Latin prefix “inter-” (“between”) and the verb “rumpere” (“to break”), the double “r’s” in “interrupt” can lead spellers astray.


Committee

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesMembers of the Caméra d’Or jury at the 71st International Cannes Film Festival.

Don’t commit to spelling “committee” if you forget about the word’s three doubled letters.


Calendar

Rawpixel / ShutterstockCalendars are easier to use than they are to spell.

Dare to spell “calendar,” which doesn’t end with the vowel you think it will thanks to its roots in the Latin “calendarium”(“account book”).


Nickel

Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesNickelback arrives before the 2012 NHL Awards at the Encore Theatre at the Wynn Las Vegas on June 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The humble nickel may only be worth five cents, but the word itself has a rich etymological history. That’s why its spelling is not the most phonetically straightforward.

“Nickel” comes from the Swedish “kopparnickel”(“copper-coloured ore”) – a half-translation of the German “Kupfernickel” (“copper demon”).


Caribbean

Shutterstock.comBottom Bay, Barbados.

You can’t list a popular pirate movie franchise or famous cruise line without knowing how to spell “Caribbean.” A common misspelling doubles the “r” instead of the “b.”

The word comes from “Carib,” the name of an indigenous people from Central America and northern South America.


Humorous

AP Photo/Charles DharapakFormer US President Barack Obama helps a young girl make a building block tower.

Some might be tempted to add a “u” to the middle of “humorous,” but there’s nothing funny about spelling mistakes.


Argument

Jaime Lawson/Getty Images for USTASerena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women’s Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan.

A bickering couple might emphasise the “you” in “argument,” but there’s only one “e.”


Prejudice

BBCColin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 TV adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’

If you’re biased toward spelling words phonetically, “prejudice” – which only has one “d” -could trip you up.


Absence

The U.S. Army/FlickrUS Army personnel fill out absentee ballots at a voting assistance drive at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, in 2008.

It requires more than common sense to spell “absence,” which was taken from Old French via Latin.


Apparent

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesCharles, Prince of Wales, is the heir apparent to the British throne.

While some people might find the spelling of “apparent” to be obvious, the word’s “-ent” suffix isn’t evident to everyone. Many spell it with an “-ant.”


Parallel

ReutersA farmer works in a flax field after harvest.

If the double “l’s” in “parallel” confuse you, think of how they illustrate the word’s meaning: “extending in the same direction, equidistant at all points, and never converging or diverging.”


Rhythm

REUTERS/Eduardo MunozA marching band performs outside the stadium before the start the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, February 2, 2014.

The silent “h” and scarcity of vowels make “rhythm” a perplexing word to spell. Pertaining to poetic metre and patterns of sound and movement, this word entered English via the Latin “rhythmus” (“movement in time”), which came from the Greek “rhythmos.”


Tragedy

John Moore/GettyNews of the Titanic sinking.

It would be a tragic mistake to add a “d” before the “g” in “tragedy.” This gloomy word comes from the Old French “tragedie,” which in turn has Latin and Greek origins.


Forty

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesCans of WD-40.

When spelling “forty,” think of forts rather than the fourth digit in the Hindu-Arabic numeral system.


Capitol

REUTERS/Jason ReedThe United States Capitol in Washington, DC.

Homophones can confuse even the most astute speller. While “capital” refers to a country or region’s most important city – in addition to being a financial term that describes the amount of money owned by a person or institution – a “capitol” is the physical building that houses the legislative branch of a government.

To distinguish between the two words, you can think of the “o” in “capitol” as a symbol of the domed roofs that characterise these governmental structures.


Privilege

Antony Jones/Getty ImagesChampagne.

You can check your privilege, but you might not be spelling it correctly. As with “tragedy,” some people are tempted to add an unnecessary “d.”


Decimal

mamiw/ShutterstockA calculator.

Although it rhymes with and shares a prefix with “decibel,” the word “decimal” comes from the Medieval Latin “decimalis” (“of tithes or tenths”).

The “bel” in “decibel” is taken from the surname of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell.


Sleight

Stephen Lovekin / Getty ImagesA magic trick.

There’s only a small difference between “slight” and “sleight,” but the “e” is necessary if you’re referring to “deceitful craftiness.”


Recommend

Rawpixel.com/ShutterstockIt’s recommended that you study how to spell words correctly.

You might be tempted to double the “c,” but keep in mind that the prefix in “recommend” is “re-” rather than “rec.”


Approximate

Melia Robinson/BIA ballpark estimate is an approximate number.

Don’t be imprecise in spelling “approximate.” With two “p’s,” this word from the Late Latin “approximatus”(the past participle of “approximare,” “to come near to”).


Conscious

Westend61/Getty ImagesMeditation.

If you’re mindful of the order of the letters in “conscious,” you’ll remember that you need the “sc” to make a “sh” sound.

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