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?


6 Answers 6


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.


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.


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.


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


  • I'd definitely add its/it's
    – o0'.
    Jan 20, 2011 at 15:50
  • 1
    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, 2011 at 15:51

Since it's the person's intention to use it in a certain context, it is a misspelling. If they were convinced that that was the way it was spelled, however, and spelled it that way, it would be a lexical error.

  • Yes, the question is a poor one. Misspellings and confusion about meaning are the two real possibilities here. Of course, word choice and syntax considerations overlap when at least one of the words chosen is in an inappropriate word class. Oct 19, 2019 at 16:38

Semantic error. Meaning is not logical.

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