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German Spelling Mistakes

An Alphabetical List


In this alphabetical list you will find common German spelling mistakes committed by native speakers and non-native speakers alike. They are misspelled words that I have come across in my students' writing and words pulled out of Duden's * "101 häufigsten Rechtschreibfehler." At the beginning of this list, I've also included misspelling generalities that should be heeded. Please note that this is a list that I will keep adding to from time to time. Newly added words will be italicized to make them easier to find.

*Duden: Deutsche Rechtschreibung und Grammatik – leicht gemacht, Mannheim: Dudenverlag, 2007.

Words with ss/ß:
The voiceless s will appear as ß in a word if it follows a long vowel or dipthong (double vowels). For example: außerdem, fließen, die Straße.
The voiceless s will appear as ss in a word if it follows a short vowel.
For example: bisschen, muss, nass. See more in German Spelling Reform and Double-s Words.

Das/dass (the/that):
Even native speakers of German sometimes confuse das and dass. One simple rule of thumb is to insert the words dieses and welches and see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, then das is the word. If it doesn’t fit, then the correct form will be dass .
For example:
Können Sie mir das (dieses) geben? (Can you give me that?)
Das Briefchen, das (welches) er mir geschrieben hat, war lang. (The letter he wrote to me, was long.)

Words with ver/fer:
Any word that is related to fertig will be spelled with "f" (abfertigen, die Fertigung.) On the other hand ver is a prefix seen often in verbs (vergeben, verlieben, versuchen, die Vergangenheit.)

Other Common German Spelling Mistakes

See page 2

Definition: Addresse
Often misspelled as: Addresse
Don’t think English, think French which is written exactly like in German.
Definition: besides
Often mispelled as: ausserdem
Generally the s-sound is written as ß after long vowels and diphthongs.
Ballett, das
Definition: Ballet
Often misspelled as: Ballet, Balett
Once again, don’t confuse with the English version.
Definition: a little
Often misspelled as: bischen
The general rule is that short vowel sounds accompanied with a sound s are written with a double s
Definition: the same
Often misspelled as: der selbe
Sometimes you see the word separated into der selbe, due to the separate nature of selbe with other prepositions such as zur selben, im selben.
der Drache/ der Drachen
der Drache - dragon
der Drachen - kite;battle-ax

Often misspelled as: either way
These words get frequently mixed up with one another. One way to remember the definitions easily: Drache has six letters and so does 'dragon.'
Definition: thirsty
Often misspelled as: dürstig
Before the Rechtschreibreform, the word dürstig was also acceptable, but not anymore. What is still allowed with umlaut is the word blutdürstig (bloodthirsty).
Often misspelled as: E-mail, e-mail, email
Makes a huge difference how you spell this word, since das Email has nothing to do with electronic mail in German – it means enamel. Take note also that it is correct either way to say das E-Mail or die E-Mail.
(Present tense of erschrecken
They are both correct, the meaning determines which one.
erschreckt (transitive): to scare someone

erschrickt (intransitive): to get scared
Er hat ihn erschreckt. (He scared him.)
Er erschrickt bei jedem kleinen Geräusch . (He gets scared from every little sound.)
Definition: du hältst - you hold/are holding
Often misspelled as: hälst
The first –t is hardly audible, but it is still there! The first –t is part of the word stem halt, which is kept in all conjugated forms of this verb: er hat gehalten; du hieltst /td>
gewöhnt - to accustom; to familiarize; to adapt/adjust to something
gewohnt - used to doing/experiencing something

Often mispelled as: either way
These words have a similar meaning, but still do not mean the same and should not be interchanged! Gewöhnt is a past participle and stems from die Gewöhnung (acclimatization/adaption/addiction/familiarization), gewohnt is an adjective, whose related noun is die Gewohnheit (habit). One marked difference between them is that gewöhnt will always be used with the preposition an, whereas gewohnt is used in conjunction with the accusative and the genitive cases.

Ich bin gewohnt früh aufzustehen - I’m used to getting up early.
Ich habe mich an diese Stadt gewöhnt - I’ve grown accustomed to this city.
Definition: in particular
Often misspelled as: insbesonders
Some people combine the words besonders and insbesondere into the incorrect form of insbesonders.
Interesse, das/interessiert
Definition: interest/interested
Often misspelled as: Interresse
If you make the double -r- mistake in English, you will most likely do it in German as well.
Definition: lady
Often misspelled as: ladies
English words that have trickled into German do not follow the same plural rules: All German words of English origin that end in -y and change to -ies when pluralized in English, simply add an -s in German. Baby ->Babys, Pony -> Ponys. Beware of words that end in -ie already in English, such as Hippie. These words then have the same plural form in both English and German: Hippie -> Hippies.
Millennium, das
Definition: millennium
Often misspelled as: Millenium, Milennium
The word Millennium comes from the latin words mille and annos - therefore the double consonants.
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