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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?

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This is a bit like an eggcorn. –  Mechanical snail Aug 19 '12 at 5:47
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5 Answers 5

up vote 8 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.

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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.

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

Their/They're/There
Your/You're
to/too/two

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I'd definitely add its/it's –  Lohoris Jan 20 '11 at 15:50
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Btw that's fun: I probably pronounce them incorrectly, but among those you listed, for me only their/they're are homophones... –  Lohoris Jan 20 '11 at 15:51
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There's no special name for it beyond:

typo.

  • '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.

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Semantic error. Meaning is not logical.

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