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It’s National Spelling Bee Day here in the US, but here on my blog, I’m declaring this a Spelling Terror Amnesty Zone.

We all have them. Words guaranteed to trip us up, to embarrass (Say it with me everyone: double “r” double “s”. double “r” double “s”, double “r” double “s”) us at the worst possible moment.

And then there are those from childhood that still linger.

I struggle mightily with “tomorrow.” Even now, I’ll have to go back to how I finally conquered it by thinking the little story I made up for myself: The only way to get across the river is to go with Tom Or Row.

Yup, my ways of remembering went way beyond “i before e, except after c.” And no matter how much spell check helps, it doesn’t solve all the problems.

Here’s an item from my word usage book WORD WATCH: A Writer’s Guide to the Slippery, Sneaky, and Otherwise Tricky:


Affect means to influence, and is usually the verb (putting aside psychology’s parlance.) Effect means the result, and is usually the noun. Counting on readers being sufficiently devoted to Word Watch after all these shared words to appreciate WW’s memory trick for this pair, WW confides it:  If English were easy, the verb would be the one that started with “e” since verb has an “e” in it. But because English is not easy, the verb is not the one that starts with “e,” instead it is affect. That leaves effect to be the one that should have been a verb, but isn’t. There. Doesn’t that make it all clear now?

So, what are the spellings that have tormented you? Have you made up ways to get around them? Share! And banish the power of Spelling Terrors.