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Separate vs. Seperate—Which Is Correct?

Updated on December 23, 2020Grammar

Along with loose and definitely, separate is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. Separate can be an adjective or a verb. As an adjective, it means set apart, distinct, or not related. As a verb, it means to to set apart, to distinguish, or to divide. Separate is often misspelled as seperate, a word that has no meaning and is simply a misspelling:

They took two separate rooms.

They took two seperate rooms.

It took time to separate the dog from its favorite toy.

It took time to seperate the dog from its favorite toy.

Words related to separate, such as separately, separated, and separation, are often misspelled in the same fashion by turning the first a into an e:

They didn’t want to go to the party separately .

They didn’t want to go to the party seperately .

They remained best friends even though they were separated by war.

They remained best friends even though they were seperated by war.

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How to remember the correct spelling of separate

There are a couple of ways to remember the correct spelling of separate. You can remember that the order of the vowels in the word is symmetrical: e-a-a-e. It might be easier to remember that there’s a rat in separate (sep-A-RAT-e).

Examples

Annapolis police recovered two handguns in separate incidents over the past few days.
The Baltimore Sun

One, they would get a separate queue at bank branches, along with differently abled persons.
The Times of India

On Thursday, Duterte sparked alarm by threatening to separate with the U.S. and ally instead with China.
CNBC

It was a hug nearly five decades in the making as two sisters separated by the Sixties Scoop reunited in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
CBC News

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