Separate or Seperate?

Along with definitely and looseseparate is one of the most commonly misspelled words in English. Separate can be either an adjective or a verb. It means set apartindividualdistinct, or not related as an adjective. As a verb, it means to detatchset apart, distinguish, or divideSeparate 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).

Examples

“In schools, can separate be equal?”

The Boston Globe

“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 …”

Washington Post

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