In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of spelling tips we will be looking at some of the most commonly misspelled words in English and suggesting ways to improve your spelling.
There’s a hotel not far from where I live that has a sign outside proudly proclaiming its offer of *Accomodation to passing travellers. Of course the ability to spell has little to do with the ability to provide clean and comfortable surroundings for guests, but I have to admit the sign makes me wince every time I see it, and would probably put me off staying there.
The hotel’s owners and the signwriters who produced the sign are in good company. Every month we look at the top misspellings in searches of Macmillan Dictionary, and most months either accommodation or its related verb accommodate is at or near the top of the list, usually with either one ‘c’ or one ‘m’ missing (most commonly an ‘m’). The fact is that consonant doubling in English is tricky and can trip up the most accomplished spellers: I often have to stop and think when I write harass or embarrassed, and spelling correctly is part of my job.
Accommodate, accommodation (usually accommodations in US English) and related words follow the rule of thumb set out in our guide to English spelling: words of Latin or Romance origin tend to have double consonants in the middle (harass, although it came into English via French, is ultimately Germanic in origin). Accommodation comes from Latin and so has two ‘c’s and two ‘m’s. As for how to remember this: one site offers the mnemonic ‘two Cots need two Mattresses in any ACCOMMODATION’, and I can’t offer anything better than that. If you have a different tip to share, please put it in a comment below this post.
You can find some information on why English spelling is so difficult, as well as helpful tips on mastering it here. You can search for other posts in this series using the tag ‘spelling tips’.
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