Judging by some of the posts on meta1 and comments posted there it seems that there are users who try to improve the posts by correcting spelling mistakes. Of course, there are other ways to improve the posts via editing, some of them probably more important than grammar and spelling. Still this is certainly an improvement, a post with correct spelling is easier to read and using English correctly also increases the professional appearance of this site. Moreover, it helps with searching. (Posts which contain only the misspelled form of the words are less likely to be found when searching.)

Maybe it could be useful to collect some commonly misspelled words. This could make it easier for users, who have some spare time and want to do a few such edits, to find posts which have this problem.

For this reason it might be useful also include link to a search (or a SEDE query) which returns those posts. Some minor comments on searching:

  • For some words, the search also returns posts which contain minor variants of the words. Since we are searching for misspellings, in such cases adding quotation marks might help to find the misspelled ones. (For example, searching for occurence returns many results, but we are more interested in the ones which are found when we search for "occurence" and "occurences".)
  • A simple SEDE query searching for some string can return words which contain this string as a some part. So sometimes we might want to look only at results containing exactly the given word. (Compare the results searching for teh with the results where teh is preceded and followed by a non-letter).
  • It is better to use case insensitive version of SEDE queries. (So that we catch also misspelled word at the beginning of a sentence. This is especially important for names.)
  • With SEDE you can find several words which contain the same substring. For example, words containing "anali" might often be typos (such as analisis, analise, analitic, etc.} and you can search for anali.

A few comments about editing the misspellings. (Some of them apply to editing in general.)

  • It is better to avoid bumping too many old posts at the same time. (Frontpage is considered a precious commodity.)
  • For this reason it is better to concentrate on questions which are new or have been recently bumped for some other reason.
  • If you edit some post, try to check whether there are also other improvements to do. (Since the post was bumped by correcting the misspelled word, it is better to improve also other things which are worth editing than to bump the same post by additional edits later.)
  • Difference between British/American spelling should not be considered a misspelling, as discussed before: Is English (US) vs English (UK) grounds for an edit?

Some names of mathematicians which are commonly misspelled can also be found in this answer: Searching for accented characters is too strict. (Although that answer is primarily about alternative spellings.) This might also help when creating list of common misspellings.

1Posts such as: Edit session for wrong spelling of mathematicians and mathematical concepts or Wrong spelling of “occurrence”. Some users have mentioned in chat that they do this kind of edits, for example, Srivatsan.

2These SEDE queries are more for people who are curious (since they do not actually help with editing), but they still might be interesting anyway. You can find posts where a specific word has already been corrected. You can also search in comments for some string or for an exact word.

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    $\begingroup$ "With SEDE you can find several words which contain the same substring." aka Scunthorpe problem. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Nov 21 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ As always, your dedication to keeping things organized and your skills with SEDE are invaluable. Thank you, @MartinSleziak. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Nov 22 at 1:50

Here are some words which have been misspelled in some posts on the site:

Strings which most likely appear in the words which are misspelled:

Phrases (consisting of more than one word) which might often indicate a mistake or misspelling:

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    $\begingroup$ The answer is community wiki, feel free to editi it further if you have some additions and corrections. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 21 at 9:56
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    $\begingroup$ Although Proof that is grammatically valid in some circumstances, I noticed that almost all of it should be replaced with Prove that. Just a note, I don't think it should be added to the list. $\endgroup$ – Kemono Chen Nov 22 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @KemonoChen that it's better not to add that to the post (since some false positives are quite likely). I will add at least in a comment link to search and link to case insensitive and case sensitive version of the SEDE query. (Perhaps at the beginning of a sentence this is more likely a mistake.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 22 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ Should "Schwartz" really be on the list ? It seems to me that the most frequent error is people talking about "Cauchy-Schwartz inequality" (been there, done that), but "Schwartz" alone can be OK. $\endgroup$ – Arnaud D. Nov 22 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ @ArnaudD. That's a good point, especially considering that there are a few things named after Laurent Schwartz. I removed it from the list. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 22 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ morophism has it's own has it's own post about it as some suggest it's a way to get around duplicates. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Nov 23 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee Did you mean this post: Misspelled titles to avoid duplicate titles? I have included links to searches for posts containing morophi. (And I should change the queries in the way so that they also search titles, not only bodies - when I have a bit of times, I will go through the queries used in the post and replace them.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 23 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking of mentioning Lebesque with a comment, but then I saw it listed, and decided to comment anyway. I've seen "Lebesgue" spelled as "Lebesque" throughout the mathematical literature going back for many decades, both in published papers and (to a lesser extent) in books. This has always struck me as very strange because Lebesgue's name VERY well known and it appears all over in mathematics and it also isn't like Chebyshev's name which is famous for it's many and varied non-misspelled versions. $\endgroup$ – Dave L. Renfro Nov 23 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Dave see math.stackexchange.com/questions/1433899/… $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 23 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Roddy grammarly.com/blog/its-vs-its $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 23 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: Surprisingly, I had not seen this question before. And speaking of surprises, I'm especially surprised at the number of people who had never seen this spelling in a publication. I've personally seen this many times, even long before the internet (especially in Eastern Bloc journals and AMS translations of Russian journals). As for errors NOT introduced by a printer/typist/publisher, I also find this surprising, because just in class note taking and writing homework proofs, I'd written "Lebesgue" many hundreds of times by the time I was a second year graduate student. $\endgroup$ – Dave L. Renfro Nov 24 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ Incidentally, the fairly prolific but lesser known mathematician V.-A. Lebesgue is not immune to this misspelling, although this is not a published example. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen V.-A. Lebesgue's name spelled as "Lebesque" in an actual published paper or book. You probably know both these examples, but like the well known math historian Moritz Cantor, V.-A. Lebesgue has the unfortunate fate of have the same surname as a MUCH more famous mathematician. $\endgroup$ – Dave L. Renfro Nov 24 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Dave, I remember coming across a printed reference to a paper by M. Lebesgue and being confused because I knew the paper was by V.-A. Lebesgue. Eventually I decided that the M in M. Lebesgue was the abbreviation of Monsieur! $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 24 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: For 1800s and early 1900s literature, I've learned to mistrust any 'M' used in front of an author's name. It usually means "Monsieur", but I've seen a few exceptions (don't know any offhand, however). Note that in this answer of mine, this usage of 'M' appears in Denjoy [2], Khinchin [1], and Luzin [2]. Of course, these authors a sufficiently well known that there is no reasonable chance of being mistaken. More care needs to be taken, for example, with some of these authors. $\endgroup$ – Dave L. Renfro Nov 24 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson it's is for it is or it has I know, I looked it up. I just can't seem to use them consistently. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Nov 24 at 16:30

Some examples of incorrect possessive:

Stoke's theorem (incorrect) should be Stokes' or even Stokes's since the man's name is "Stokes".

Similar: Baye's theorem (incorrect), which appeared somewhere in .se recently.


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