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Spelling Errors in the US Constitution


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • US Constitution: document of rules and principles for governing in the US
  • glaring: very noticeable
  • inconsistent: not the same throughout
  • variation: a different version
  • raise eyebrows: to cause people to feel surprised or concerned

Spelling Errors in the US Constitution

According to the history books, the final preparation of the text for the US Constitution (signed Sept 17, 1787) was a bit rushed. The most glaring is the inconsistent spelling of the word Pennsylvania. This word appears with two n’s first and later with one n. the one n spelling was common at the time (it appears on the Liberty Bell), it was an error since Pennsylvania was named after founder William Penn. In addition, the Constitution uses the spelling c-h-u-s-e for choose, which was also a non-standard variation of the word at the time. Finally, in Article I, Section 10, the form its is incorrectly written as the contraction it’s (before inspection Laws). These inconsistencies and errors likely didn’t raise any eyebrows in the late 1700s.

Comprehension Questions

  1. When was the US Constitution signed?
  2. Who was William Penn?
  3. Why does the report mention the Liberty Bell?

Discussion Questions: Most spell check programs would not catch the it’s/its error either (though a grammar check program might). What other writing errors can’t be caught by spell checkers?

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