Monday, February 14, 2011

Spell Check Isn't Enough


I recently read a few blog posts about grammar and spelling. The Social Frog posted “Write, Read, & Edit” where she asks: “If you are reading a news story, blog, or book and you come across many issues including grammar, spelling or punctuation, do you stop reading it, do you ignore it, or just suffer through it all?”

 I also follow The Grammarian’s Reviews, and I enjoy her Grammar Bits.

So, I know I’m not the only one that notices this. I’m a firm believer that if you want what you write to be taken seriously, you need to be careful about proofreading. Notice I didn’t say spell checking – you need to proofread too. So, here’s a little “mini grammar lesson” and a list of common mistakes, for what it’s worth.

I’m not talking about slang – I think that’s totally (or should I say “totes”) fine--that shows personality and makes a post interesting and current. I’m talking about spelling and grammar mistakes that make people think, “Should I believe anything this person writes?” I’m not trying to be critical, I’m trying to help the image of the blogging community as a whole. Let’s show people we really can write more than grocery lists!

I’ve been keeping a list for a while of mistakes I’ve seen on blogs that spell check WILL NOT CATCH. (No, I didn’t keep track of which blogs these came from, so don’t ask!) I know I’ve made these mistakes myself because sometimes it’s the third or fourth time I proofread before I find them.  (So now that I’ve posted this, have at it. Let me know what you find.) Here’s a sample of the mistakes I’ve seen:

seem/seemed
of/on/or
do/to
he/she (one person even called the author a “he” when she was a “she.”)
weak/week
complain/complaint
defiantly/definitely
perceptive/perspective
that/than
knew/new
from/form
affect/effect. This is a biggie.  YourDictionary explains this proper usage much better than I can.

A couple of other mistakes I see often:

There is no such word as “alright” (it’s “all right” – would you use “alwrong?”)

There is no such word as “anyways.” This is never used. “Anyway” is always proper. I know, young people say this all the time (I’m old.) My son says I’ve warped him because this sounds wrong to him, but everyone says it!

Misuse of apostrophes. Learn the difference between books, book’s, and books’.

There are a couple of other things that don’t have to do with spelling that I think make what you write more professional. Define acronyms. Don’t assume people know what they mean. You only need to define it the first time you use it. Also, if you are discussing the second (or third…) book in a series, name the other books in the series.

There are many things about blog design and posts that are debatable. Should you give a rating? Should you include a summary written by someone else? How should your review be formatted or presented? These can be left to the discretion of the blog author. But proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar should not be optional.

What are your pet peeves about grammar and spelling? How do you go about making sure your blogs are error free? Do you have any grammar tips or things that you use to remember all those rules?
  




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6 comments:

  1. My biggest pet peeve is that nobody knows how to spell "definitely". I've seen "definetly", "definantly", "definately" (this seems to be the most common), and even "defiantly" (which your spell-checker will definitely not catch).

    A close second is when people make plurals with apostrophes. I've even seen elementary school teachers do this. No wonder some of today's kids have so much trouble with the English language!

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  2. I think my pet peeves are the misuse of homophones. I know it's wrong, but I think if I know how to use there/their/they're/effect/affect/than/then/to/too properly then they should too!
    I really hope I don't make any mistakes like this, it'd be really ironic on my part. I'll keep an even more watchful eye now.

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  3. I have a bad habit of starting sentences in comments without a subject. Oops! But when I write reviews, I make sure it makes sense and all the mechanics are running smoothly. Excellent points, Annette :)

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  4. This post gets the my official professional copy editor stamp of approval. Assuming I had such a stamp. If I did, that would be AWESOME!

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  5. This is such a fabulous post! I am currently taking an editing class for work and it's bringing a lot of little habits to light for me!

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  6. This is a great post! I'm a major spelling and grammar snob, I really can't stand reading something that has constant errors. The occasional mistake is one thing, doing it 5 times within one paragraph is another.

    On the note of "alright" and "all right", I actually did some research on this awhile back. (My friend and I got into a debate over it... long story.) While you're correct that "alright" isn't actually a word, because of it's constant usage by the majority of people, it's become acceptable to use. A distinction has actually been made between the two. "All right" is, supposedly, used to mean "everything is correct." "Alright" is used to mean something is "okay" or "fine".

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