As the title suggests, this is a list of frequently made typo's in English as I see them coming by on a number of sites. I compiled this list hoping to help writers in English to avoid a number of pitfalls they might come across.
Where, were and we're
Where indicates a question regarding the location of something or someone, were is past tense of 'to be' and we're is the contraction of 'we' and 'are'.
Example: "Where are Mother and Father heading? We're looking for them. Before we were looking for the Keeper but she referred us to the Amyrling and M'Hael."
There, their and they're
There indicates a statement regarding the location of something or someone, their indicates something belongs to 'them' and they're is a contraction of 'they' and 'are'.
Example: "Ah, there they are! Those are the Novices who forget to do their chores. Will you make sure they're punished accordingly?"
Whether and weather
Whether indicates something will happen regardless of a case-distinction, weather refers to the atmospheric conditions (sunny, windy, rainy, snowy etc.).
Example: "Whether the weather is good or bad, you'll practise your swordforms!"
Thought and taught
Thought is past tense of 'to think' whereas taught is past tense for 'to teach'.
Example: "I thought I saw Uli Offenheimer walk past just now. Did you know he taught many people the basics of the Katana?"
Of course is spelled like this, with the space in between 'of' and 'course', and indicates something should be very likely to happen. There is also off course, but that refers to not keeping direction.
Example: "Of course you can ask me a question about that, Mentee. That is why I am your Mentor, that and to prevent you from steering off course and ending up on the Dark Side."
Its and it's
Its indicates something belongs to 'it' whereas it's is a contraction of 'it' and 'is'.
Example: "It's my dog's birthday today. Because its collar had broken last week I gave it a new one." (In English, animals (including pets) are usually an 'it'. To call your dog 'he' or 'she' indicates seeing it as a part of your family, like a son or daughter, instead of ('just') an animal.)
Your and you're
Your indicates something belongs to 'you' whereas you're is a contraction of 'you' and 'are'.
Example: Novice Kinderman, you have been very irresponsible! You're to report to the Mistress of Novices immediately to report your transgressions!"
Would have, would've and would of
Would've is the contraction of would have, which is usually used to indicate a planned (future) action that has been changed by present/recent events. The pronunciation of would've has lead to people mistaking it for would of. This is a error, would of does not exist in this form.
Example: I would've done my homework anyways Saria thought angrily to herself, making sure to hide her scowl from Arianna Sedai. One lecture on proper behaviour and discipline was enough for the day.
Here and hear
Here indicates a location, hear is a form of the verb 'to hear', meaning 'to catch a sound with your ears'.
Example: "I hear you've been studying hard, Piet Drin'far'ji. Why don't you show me your swordforms right here, on this spot." (When in doubt, notice the similarity between 'hear' and 'ear'. They look alike and there's a distinct relation between the two.)
Accept and except
Accept indicates a form of agreement with something, except a form of disagreement with the 'standard'.
Example: "Has the Master of Training accepted your proposal for a revised training regimen yet?" "No, he said he wouldn't make an exception this large. Normally I would have send him a revised version, except he kept me so busy I didn't know where I lived half the time, let alone revise my proposal."
Then and than
Than indicates an inequality. Then seems to indicate a chronological order (something happens after another thing) but really indicates a conditional (if .. then ..., or if something happens then another thing will happen). Most of the time, the conditional implicates some form of chronological order.
Example: "As a punishment, I have to do stretching exercises, then more than twenty laps around the yard and only then do I get to practise my swordforms." "You got into trouble, then?" "Yes, for making fewer than fifty swipes when sweeping the pathways."