Blog/Grammar tips
12 November 2023
2 min read

How to Spell Definitely: A Guide to Common Mistakes

Is accurate spelling important? Definitely! But often, people find themselves pondering whether it's "definitely" or "definately". This article dives into the correct spelling of this frequently used word and sheds light on why it's so commonly misspelled.

What Does Definitely Mean?

"Definitely" is an adverb, meaning "without any doubt" or "certainly". For example:

  • He will definitely arrive by 8:30 am.
  • Cheetahs are definitely faster than snails.
  • I definitely didn’t eat the last slice of cake.

Understanding the definition of "definitely" is crucial, as it's a word that adds emphasis and clarity to our sentences.

Word Formation

Understanding the structure of "definitely" helps in spelling it correctly. The word is formed of three parts:

  • de: A Latin prefix meaning "completely".
  • finite: This part of the word means "bound or limited".
  • ly: A suffix commonly used to form an adverb from an adjective.

Together, these parts form "definitely", a word that essentially means "in a definite manner".

The Error: Definately

A common error is spelling "definitely" as "definately". This mistake is often due to the pronunciation of the word, where the second "i" sounds more like an "uh", leading people to erroneously insert an "a" after the "n".

Clarifying Correct Spelling

Despite its pronunciation, "definitely" always contains two "i"s, a direct reflection of its root "finite". This differs from other words with a similar sound, like "immediately" or "accurately", where the sound is spelled with an "a".

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Summary and Reminder

To sum up, "definitely" is an adverb meaning without any doubt, and it's always spelled with two "i"s. Remembering the root "finite" can help avoid the common misspelling of this word.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is "definitely" so frequently misspelled?

The pronunciation of "definitely", where the second "i" sounds like "uh", often leads people to mistakenly use an "a" instead.

Are there tricks to remembering how to spell "definitely"?

Remember the root word "finite", which is always spelled with two "i"s.

Can spell-checkers correct this mistake?

While spell-checkers are helpful, they're not always reliable. Knowing the correct spelling is essential.

Are there other commonly misspelled words like "definitely"?

Yes, words like "separately" (often misspelled as "seperately") and "necessary" (often misspelled as "neccessary") are also common culprits.

Is "definitely" used differently in British and American English?

No, the spelling and usage of "definitely" are consistent in both British and American English.

Conclusion

Accurate spelling is a key component of effective communication, and understanding the correct spelling of commonly used words like "definitely" is crucial. Remember, if you're ever in doubt, think of "finite" – and you'll definitely get it right!

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