I'm not sure if I have heard both phrases used, but something in my head tells me I have, and I am just wondering if they are both correct (I would appreciate it if you could provide an explanation). Another related question: is it possible to say "error of/in translation"? This question has been bothering me for quite a while. Thank you for your answers.

2 Answers 2


Both "an error of ..." and "an error in spelling" are reasonable. I would use the second when talking about a particular example

He made an error in spelling the word 'necessary' with two 'c's.

I would use the first when not referring to a specific example.

His essay contained five errors of spelling.

But I'd be more likely to say:

He made five spelling errors.


an error in spelling


a spelling error

"an error of spelling," even though it may seem technically suitable, is nonsense.

  • 3
    Google Books claims to have 1500 written instances of an error of spelling, so I don't think I can let your "nonsense" assessment stand unchallenged. On top of which I can't see why orthography, for example, should be any different to spelling in this context. And there are actually nearly twice as many instances of an error in orthography as there are of an error of orthography. Jul 22, 2018 at 18:55
  • 3
    I agree with @Fumble – while it may sound the most awkward of the three options, and appear be the least common, it's a bit too dismissive to deem it as "nonsense."
    – J.R.
    Jul 22, 2018 at 20:01

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