English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Look at this sentence:

It wasn't quiet what I wanted

And this one:

The music was too quite for me

Obviously quiet and quite are mixed up. Is this considered a spelling mistake? In both cases the words are valid, but used in the wrong place.

Is there a special name for these mistakes? Or are they simply grammatical errors?

share|improve this question
This is a bit like an eggcorn. – Mechanical snail Aug 19 '12 at 5:47
up vote 9 down vote accepted

They are not grammatical errors since the sentence structure is correct once you replace the erroneous word with the one the author obviously intended.

So I would categorise those mistakes as spelling mistakes influenced by homophone confusion.

share|improve this answer

I’m not sure whether there is a special name for this kind of spelling mistake, but I’d definitely call it a spelling or typing mistake. The writer would no doubt have pronounced it right in speech. In fact, I suspect that the most common spelling mistakes are those in which a writer subconsciously confuses two similar-sounding words or parts of words, even though he probably knows better, as in *negligable, *interchangible, *percieve, *retreive, *their crazy, *they’re house, *it’s body, *its mine, etc.

share|improve this answer

Quiet/Quite might be considered a homophone depending on your accent. Other common homophone (heterograph, specifically) mistakes are:


share|improve this answer
I'd definitely add its/it's – o0'. Jan 20 '11 at 15:50
Btw that's fun: I probably pronounce them incorrectly, but among those you listed, for me only their/they're are homophones... – o0'. Jan 20 '11 at 15:51

There's no special name for it beyond:


  • 'quiet' and 'quite' mean two very different things; one is an adverb meaning 'very', the other is an adjective mening 'silent'.

  • their pronunciations are different enough; in GenAmE, they are not homophones (I don't know about other varieties).

  • Transpositino of two characters, especially at teh end of a word, is a very common typing error.

  • surely the writers didn't intend the words as written, so they are neither grammatical error or spelling errors.

share|improve this answer

Semantic error. Meaning is not logical.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Mar 1 '15 at 18:52

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.