Common Spelling Mistakes in Business Writing and How to Avoid Them

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In the realm of business communication, maintaining clarity and professionalism is paramount. Every email, memo, or report serves as a reflection of your competence and attention to detail. Yet, even seasoned professionals may inadvertently make common spelling mistakes that compromise the impact of their message.

This post delves into these spelling pitfalls, offering strategies to help you steer clear of them and ensure your written communication remains professional and effective.

  1. a vs. an: a comes before words starting with a consonant sound, and an before words beginning with a vowel sound
    For example:
    a meeting
    an email
  2. accept vs. except: accept means receive or agree, and except means excluding
    For example:
    accept the terms
    everyone except the interns
  3. adverse vs. averse: adverse describes something unfavourable, while averse denotes strong dislike or reluctance
    For example:
    adverse market conditions
    averse to risk-taking
  4. affect vs. effect: affect is a verb meaning to influence and effect is a noun referring to the result or consequence
    For example:
    affect sales
    effects of the policy
  5. assume vs. presume: assume means to suppose without proof, while presume means to suppose based on evidence or probability
    For example:
    why do you assume this is my responsibility?
    we can presume customer satisfaction from our sales figures
  6. biannual vs. biennial: biannual describes something that happens twice a year and biennial describes something that happens once every two years
    For example:
    biannual meetings
    the biennial report
  7. biweekly vs. fortnightly vs. semi-weekly: biweekly can mean twice a week or once every two weeks, fortnightly means once every two weeks, and semi-weekly, means twice a week
    For example:
    biweekly updates
    fortnightly catch ups
    semi-weekly progress reports
  8. board vs. bored: a board is a group of individuals that oversees a company, while bored describes a feeling of tedium or lack of interest
    For example:
    the board of directors 
    bored employees during long meetings
  9. borrow vs. lend: borrow mean to take with the intention of returning and lend means giving something temporarily
    For example:
    the company borrowed funds
    the bank agreed to lend money
  10. break vs. brake: as a noun break refers to a pause or interval from usual activities, while as a verb it means to separate or damage; meanwhile a brake is a device for slowing down or stopping a vehicle.
    For example:
    employees are entitled to a fifteen-minute break
    the contract
    the car has a brake
  11. e.g. vs. i.e.: e.g means for example and i.e. means that is.
    For example:
    include various departments, e.g. marketing
    we will evaluate key performance indicators, i.e. net sales
  12. ensure vs. insure: ensure means to guarantee and insure means to protect with insurance
    For example:
    the manager will ensure timely delivery
    the company will insure its assets
  13. everyday vs. every day: everyday means commonplace, while every day means daily
    For example:
    addressing everyday challenges
    employees arrive early every day
  14. infer vs. imply: infer means to deduce and imply means to suggest indirectly
    For example:
    investors can infer market trends
    the report implies a need for cost-cutting measures
  15. less vs. fewer: less is used with uncountable nouns, while fewer is used with countable nouns
    For example:
    staff get less time off than before
    staff get fewer days off than before
  16. loan vs. lone: loan refers to borrowed money while lone means solitary
    For example:
    apply for a business loan
    the lone survivor of the merger
  17. new vs. knew: new means recently made or acquired, while knew is the past tense of know
    For example:
    the company launched new products
    the team knew about the changes
  18. prescribe vs. proscribe: precede means to come before and proceed means to continue
    For example:
    the introduction precedes the content
    proceed with caution
  19. than vs. then: than is used in comparisons and then indicates sequence
    For example:
    faster than the previous computer system
    first complete, then submit
  20. who vs. whom: who refers to the subject, while whom refers to the object
    For example:
    who submitted the proposal? 
    to whom it may concern


By being mindful of these common spelling mistakes and their correct usage, you can enhance the professionalism and clarity of your business writing. Remember to proofread your documents carefully before sending them out.

Clear and accurate communication is key to success in the business world, and mastering spelling fundamentals is a crucial step in achieving that goal. Take your spelling to the next level today with a Spellzone free trial.


21 Feb 2024
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Sarah Taggart, Oasis Academy Lord's Hill