Too may times, we don’t proofread our own work and leave it in the hands of our program’s spell checker. But is this the best thing to do? Is our spell checker so accurate that we should trust it completely? The answer is an astounding no!
While spell checking programs are great at finding words that are obviously misspelled, they are not perfect and will not ensure that your work is 100% error free. From new words to complex sentences, spell checking software has its glitches.
1 – New Words Aren’t Recognized
Spell checking software is only updated as often as its operating system, so when a new word pops up on the radar, spell check is going to assume that it is wrong. Take the words “blog” and “Facebook”, for example. Today, they are very popular and used extremely often, but unless you are using an updated program, you may see those red squiggly lines underneath them both. You know that the words are spelled correctly, but it will make you check and double-check your spelling abilities.
2 – Auto Correct Blunders
Due to the abilities of growing technology, spell checking software has started auto correcting your work. It learns words that you regularly type and replaces other words with those it “thinks” you mean to say. For example, if you are typing the word “gamification” (a real word), your software will auto correct it with “ramification”. While you should appreciate your program’s efforts to help you out, it just causes extra work to rewrite the word you actually want.
3 – Find the Missing Words
If your sentence is missing a word, but it still makes sense the way it is currently written, your spell checker will not catch it. For example, “Joe walked Sarah” has a whole different meaning than “Joe walked with Sarah”. Both sentences are grammatically correct, but they have two separate meanings. If you only used spell checker to check your work, anyone who read your sentence would think that Joe walked Sarah on a leash.
4 – Homonym Troubles
Some spell checking software has been improved to catch this issue, but some still cannot figure it out. If a homonym is used (a word that sounds the same but is spelled differently), spell check will not catch it. For example, if you use “their” or “there” when you really mean “they’re”, your mistake will not be corrected.
5 – Hyphenated Questions
There are plenty of words that some people hyphenate while others do not. For example, some people spell it “online” and others spell it “on-line”. No matter which way you spell it, spell checker will not catch it. While the hyphenation is needed or not may not be such a big issue, since your spell checker will let you get away with both, it will allow you to be inconsistent with your spelling. Just because it has shortcomings does not mean that you should stop using spell checking software altogether. While it may only catch some misspellings, it is still making you aware of the mistakes. If you want to ensure that your work is error free, you need to rely on the human eye.
Proofreading your own work will help catch any misspelled words or grammatical errors that the spell checker software would overlook. To be even more thorough, you should have someone else proofread it too. Their fresh eyes may catch something your tired eyes overlooked.
About the author: Stella Brown is a very strict grammarian. Every piece of prose is polished with a grammar checker. If you don’t have an editor on call, visit Grammarly for proofreading and tips on English grammar rules.
Credits: Photo courtesy of Simon Cataudo.