Along with definitely and loose, separate is one of the most commonly misspelled words in English. Separate can be either an adjective or a verb. It means set apart, individual, distinct, or not related as an adjective. As a verb, it means to detatch, set apart, distinguish, or divide. Separate is misspelled often as seperate, a word that has no meaning and is merely a misspelling:
Correct They took two separate cars.
Incorrect They took two seperate cars.
Correct She never wants to separate from her favorite doll.
Incorrect She never wants to seperate from her favorite doll.
Words related to separate, like separated, separately, and separation, are frequently misspelled in the same manner by turning the first a to an e:
Correct They didn’t like going to dinner separately.
Incorrect They didn’t like going to dinner seperately.
Correct They remained friends even though they had been separated by 500 miles.
Incorrect They remained friends even though they had been seperated by 500 miles.
Remembering the Correct Spelling of Separate
There are some ways of remembering the proper spelling of separate. You can try to remember that the order of the vowels is symmetrical: e-a-a-e. Or it may be easier to remember that there is a rat in separate (sep-A-RAT-e).
“In schools, can separate be equal?”
“Symone’s been on our radar for a while,” Ms. Jones, the MSNBC president, said in a separate interview
The New York Times
“African Americans were barred from attending any of the state’s medical schools, however, the doctrine of “separate, but equal” meant the state had to offer …”