Last edited 02 Nov 2020

Main author

Alex Harvie Other Consultant Website

Common spelling mistakes in the construction industry

The range of documents that need to be written in the construction industry includes:

The spell-check function on computers means that many common problems with spelling have been eliminated. However, some words remain troublesome, some have confusing homophones (words which sound the same but have different meanings) and some have US spelling variants. Spelling mistakes can create a negative impression of a company and undermine other work that has been done.

A number of the most common difficulties are listed below.

  • affect: means to influence something, effect is to bring about change, or the result of change (to affect the environment, the effect of water damage).
  • and: write in full, avoid using & and + unless it forms part of a company name.
  • annex: verb (to annex), the noun has an extra e (we added an annexe to the building).
  • artefact: not artifact.
  • brownfield, greenfield and greenbelt: not brown field, green field, green belt.
  • capitalise not capitalize: realise not realize, customise not customize, keep the ‘s’ in UK text.
  • compliment and complement: to compliment is to offer praise, to complement means to complete, to create harmony or compatibility. The client complimented our work. The colour of the seats complemented the natural wood of the ceiling.
  • discreet, discrete: discreet means to be tactful or prudent; discrete means separate.
  • disinterested, uninterested: disinterested means impartial, uninterested means lacking in interest.
  • effectively: not affectively.
  • ensure, insure: ensure is to make sure of something, insure is related to insurance.
  • everyday and every day: an everyday occurrence, we do this every day.
  • focused, focusing: not focussed and focussing.
  • forward, foreword: to travel forward, a foreword is introductory text in a book.
  • fulfil: not fulfill. But infill, not infil.
  • greywater: not grey water, also blackwater, rainwater.
  • inquiry: this relates to an event such as a public inquiry. An enquiry is something you make when you ask a question/enquire.
  • less and fewer: less applies to quantities such as volume, mass or area, fewer relates to numbers. Generally you can’t count/numerate less, but you can fewer - less water, fewer apples. Note that less/fewer are comparatives and usually require qualification; less or fewer than what?
  • licence and license. Licence is a noun, wheras license is a verb.
  • maybe, may be: maybe we should consider an alternative, this may be it.
  • none: a commonly used abbreviation of ‘not one’ which is treated as a singular.
  • pavilion: not pavillion.
  • practice and practise: practice (with c) is a noun, such as an architectural practice. Practise (with s) is a verb or doing word, such as to practise. You can hear the difference with a similar word - to advise and to offer advice.
  • principle and principal: a principle is a general rule, a principal is a senior manager or the main thing.
  • rainwater or rain: not rain water.
  • receive, conceive, deceive: - i before e except after c.
  • recommend: not recomend.
  • separate: not seperate.
  • stationery, stationary: stationery is papers and pens, stationary is to stop still.
  • until: not ‘til or till.
  • would have: not would of.

This article was written by --Alex Harvie 17:57, 2 July 2013 (BST)

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