By Geraldine Woods

You can misspell any word, at any time. All it takes is a slip of the finger, and ‘rain’ becomes ‘rayn’. Some words, though, attract errors the way a black sweater attracts lint. Memorise these ‘devils’ so that next time you want to write one, you will place each letter where it belongs.

Here is a list. First you see the spelling word. Next is the definition. Last is what you should remember, so you can spell the word correctly.

embarrass ‘to make someone feel shame’ Remember: double r, double s

argument ‘disagreement’ Remember: no e after the u

beginning ‘start’ Remember: double n

committed ‘pledged to’ Remember: double m, double t

deceive ‘to trick’ Remember: i comes after e, when both follow c

conscience ‘inner guide to right and wrong’ Remember: science is part of the word, with an s and a c

business ‘store, company, work’ Remember: an i comes before ness

February ‘second month’ Remember: an r comes before u

dependent ‘relying on someone or something’ Remember: ent, not ant

despair hopelessness’ Remember: des, not dis

separate ‘apart’ Remember: pa, not pe

disappear ‘vanish, go away’ Remember: one s, double p

forty ’40’ Remember: no u

grammar the structure of a language’ Remember: ar, not er

knowledge ‘information, awareness’ Remember: dg, not just g

eighth ‘8th’ Remember: add h to the word eight

laboratory ‘science workroom’ Remember: o before ra

jealous ‘envious’ Remember: ea, not e

exaggerate ‘make bigger, stretch the truth’ Remember: double g

excellent ‘great’ Remember: ent, not ant

success ‘achievement of a goal’ Remember: double c, double s

definite ‘fixed, certain’ Remember: i, not ate

original ‘the first, unchanged’ Remember: nal, not nel

sincerely ‘honestly’ Remember: ely, not just ly

weird ‘strange’ Remember: ei, not ie

weight ‘heaviness’ Remember: ei, not ie

whether ‘expressing a choice between two things’ Remember: wh, not just w

therefore ‘thus, so’ Remember: ends with an e

all right ‘all acceptable’ Remember: two words, not one

Many more spelling devils could appear here. As you notice words you often misspell, add your own personal ‘devils’ to the list.