This article, from David Halpert, originally appeared on the Writinghood site on 7/21/09.
Not only is the English language one of the most complex languages on the planet it is also one of the most verbose, awkward, and contradictory. That being said here are the five most commonly misspelled expressions in the English Language.
Pored over texts, not poured over texts
This one probably stuck with me the longest in terms of misspelled expressions but among the public it’s also one of the most misspelled expressions as well. Want to know what “pouring” over texts has to do with water. Absolutely nothing. While it’s easy to assume that one might pore over a document the way water pours over a surface, the two have nothing in common. In this case, “pore” means “to read or study with steady attention or application“.
Just deserts, not just desserts
A lot of people think that when you say to someone they will get their just deserts, it somehow relates to a giant sundae you will get to eat and the other person won’t, but actually the expression “just deserts” relates to the way you’d spell an arid piece of sandy land. “Deserts”, however, can also mean “‘that which is deserved” from the Latin desiree meaning to get one’s come uppance. Don’t fall into this common trap.
Wreak havoc, not wreck havoc
When spelt “wreck” (pronounced reek) the general public believes to wreak havoc is synonymous with taking your car out on the highway and wreaking havoc on the road, and while “wreck” means to destroy or cause chaos it is used completely out of context. Havoc itself as a noun means chaos, destruction, and general disorder, but so does wreck when used as a verb. To be used beside one another would be a double negative, for example, to cause destruction to chaos, meaning in the wrong sense, to cause order. In the correct version, “wreak havoc” means “to inflict or execute (punishment, vengeance, etc.)“.