What Your Spell Checker Misses but Doesn’t Tell

Yes, I know that the standard, default spell checker on your word processors is the only good thing about those word processors other than their existence – relax, we won’t talk about the formatting glitches and dependencies in this post. But, we all will agree that none of the automatic or system-driven spell check processes is a 100% accurate.

Here’s a list of the mistakes that my or your, spell checker doesn’t catch:

  • Dangling truth: I start the list with my favorite, “Siya walked her dog in a short skirt.” Wait, what? Who did you say was wearing a short skirt?
  • All spellings correct: Yes, it is possible that what you might have written is correct yet incorrect. Consider the following fragment from an email I accidentally sent the last week. I swear that as soon as I had hit the Send button, I had seen that mistake. But, alas! Only if I could trigger a recall for that email:
    “We would appreciation frequent communication regarding…” The word should have been “appreciate”.
  • Missed words: I will ask, “Could you catch the change of tense in the previous point?” Some of you might say, “Well, No. We were busy reading a of” Now did you catch it? But, did the spell checker catch it? Let that remain a question for now.
  • Your preferences: It is true that the spell checker does check for the grammar, but it doesn’t consider some of my writing standards. Here is my logic: “Whether” by itself is a question, so there isn’t any sense in writing “or not” after it to list all possibilities. So, “Just tell me whether it is possible” should be enough.
  • A tensed situation: There is this concept of parallel construction. But, before we talk about that, let us talk about the concept of tenses. How about keeping only one sense of time all along your write-up. People used to follow this principle a long time ago. They still do. But, who cares! Even if I changed the tense, would the spell checker check it? Did the spell checker check it? It didn’t, right? See!
  • Glaring inconsistencies: Did you notice that I used both “here is” and “here’s” in this post? If you did, probably I should hire you instead of my default spell checker. The point is, the spell checker cannot catch such inconsistencies in your write-up. So, if you use different (but acceptable) spellings of words or their acceptable shortened forms, the spell checker will not catch that. This isn’t exactly a mistake but a miss is a miss

The good news is, there is always a solution to your problems. In this case, the solution is to use either a good spell checker, like Grammarly (it is sad that they didn’t pay me for their advertisement) or another pair of human eyes to run a quick check for you.

May the spellings be with you. Happy writing.

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Suyog Ketkar

He is a certified technical communicator. He believes that writing continues to be an easy-to-do-but-difficult-to-master job. In his work time, he proudly dons the “enabler” cape. In his non-work time, he dons many hats including one of a super-busy father.