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Wednesday 11th December 2013 /
Spellcheck. The little word-processing tool that guides us through the rights and wrongs of our writing.
There are times when those red and green zigzags under words are a blessing, highlighting typos and picking up inadvertent errors. But when it comes to language, can we really trust technology to know what’s right?
At Ink, we come across instances every day where the spellchecker gets it wrong. Here are three common slip-ups to watch out for:
While most spellcheckers now recognise popular names, what about that unusual surname, obscure town or unique brand? Until you manually add them to your spellchecker’s dictionary, these words will automatically show up as incorrect.
Affect, effect. Compliment, complement. To, too, two. Homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. And mixing them up is one of the most prevalent errors in writing. But because you can spell these words correctly and still use them in the wrong way, spellcheck won’t always pick up when you’ve got it wrong.
It’s or its? Their or they’re? Your or you’re? Confuse your contractions and possessives, and grammar checkers might not help you out. They have even been known to try to change correct apostrophe use. That’s why a proper understanding of how to use apostrophes is the only sure-fire way to guarantee clear, accurate writing.
So, while spellcheckers can be useful for identifying some of the most obvious errors, it just goes to show that their humble opinion is still no match for the eagle eye of a good proofreader – and that giving your copy that last once-over is still a vital part of the writing process.