I am preparing for Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academics for further study.I score less in spelling and I know that this forum is for English Language not for any 'test regarding English language proficiency'.
so I want to ask question in the context of rules of English Langauge that 'she drew in a quick breathe' here breathe is incorrect as breath must used. So breathe is spelling mistake or grammar mistake ?
Similarly, if I write 'He licked the car' instead of 'He liked the car' So licked is spelling mistake or grammar mistake?

  • 1
    Asking questions without inversion is a grammar mistake? – tchrist Nov 27 '17 at 13:40
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    Depends on intention, not on the resultant sentence. If you knew the word “licked”, the kind where a tongue is applied to something, would pronounce it, use it in other appropriate contexts, etc, but simply wrote it down as “liked”, then it’s a spelling error, because the thing you got wrong was the spelling and nothing else. It, by contrast, you didn’t know the difference between the noun “breath” and the verb “breathe”, pronounced them identically, mixed them up in other contexts, then it’s a grammatical error, because the thing you got wrong was the part of speech. – Dan Bron Nov 27 '17 at 13:41
  • @tchrist Any disparity between intention and result is a mistake by definition. – Dan Bron Nov 27 '17 at 13:44
  • @DanBron - Except in computerdom, where it's a "feechur". – Hot Licks Nov 27 '17 at 13:53
  • Since "real" language is spoken, and the noun/verb form breath/breathe are pronounced differently, it's inherently a grammatical error to use the wrong form. Unless the context is a written form where the writer does actually know they're two different words,but he's just used the wrong spelling for the intended word. – FumbleFingers Nov 27 '17 at 14:14

The two mistakes you described seem to both be spelling mistakes rather than grammatical mistakes.

  • Spelling mistakes happen when you wrongly transcribe a word.

    For example, if I was not familiar with your name, I could misspell it as "Amon". This mistake has nothing to do with my understanding of syntax or grammar.

  • Grammatical mistakes usually happen when you utilise a word form that is not compatible with the context in which it is used.

    For example, if I wrote "We likes ice-cream" that would be a grammatical mistake rather than a spelling mistake because "likes" is not the correct form of the verb.

A shortcut to figuring out if something is a grammatical or spelling mistake is to consider if a sentence would be "correct" in an oral context (rather than a written one)*. If you create a sentence and it's incorrect when written, but correct when pronounced, then it could give you a hint that your mistake is probably one of spelling and not grammar.

* Of course there are exceptions to that: there are grammatical mistakes, such as punctuation mistakes, that can only exist in written language. I probably made a couple above :)

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