to, too, two

5 Spelling Mistakes That Escape Your Spellchecker by Sreeram Sreenivasan

Poor grammar on websites scares 59% away
Fifty-nine per cent of Britons would not use a company with poor grammar on its website. Have you checked yours recently?

This headline comes from an article by the Real Business website

Whether you’re writing a blog post, resume, article, book, magazine or other reading material, the spellchecker makes it easy to catch common mistakes and correct them.

However, the funny thing about English language is that if you switch 2-3 letters, you can end up with a totally different, legitimate word. Let’s say you’re typing ‘being’ and accidentally jumble a few letters to write ‘begin’, and your spellchecker may not be able to catch those errors.

Here are 5 mistakes to watch out for even when you’re using a spellchecker

1. Contractions
Many writers use contractions to impart a conversational tone to their writing. However, if not used properly, it can lead to confusion. Here are some examples of contractions gone wrong:
its instead of it’s
your instead of you’re
were instead of we’re
their instead of they’re
whose instead of who’s

You’ll find them most often in blog posts and comments. If this is a common problem for you, then do away with contractions and write the full thing.

2. Words that sound too close but are different
Homophones are words that sound exactly the same but mean totally different things, such as :
too vs to
made vs maid
for vs four
weather vs whether

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to catch such tricky errors. Identify your weak spots, specifically check if a word has a homophone and what they both mean. Or use memory tricks to help you figure out which is which – Check this lesson on homophones and this one on using memory tricks.

Similarly, there are mistakes that can happen even when you’re looking. These words don’t sound similar and mean different things but you’ll often see one used in place of the other.
lose, loose
effect, affect
bought brought (past of bring- notice the br)
then, than

The key is to understand how to differentiate them and when to use them. Here’s a simple poster by Oatmeal that can help you get going.

3. Same language, different geographies
You may have noticed the use of ‘colour’ and ‘color’ in many publications. Which is the right one? It depends on your target audience. If you’re writing for a US audience, then words like:
colour, honour, neighbour, humour, favourite
are spelled as:
color, honor, neighbor, humor, favorite

Similarly, American spelling also clips words like dialogue, catalogue, programme to dialog, catalog, and program respectively.

Also, in many cases, the -re in British spelling(centre, litre, fibre) is replaced with -er in American spelling(center, liter, fiber)

Understand your target audience, else your writing will be seen as full of ‘typos’ even if it doesn’t have any mistakes.

4. I and Me
When you’re talking about yourself, be careful to use I and me correctly. Many people think it’s classy to use I, and end up being wrong most of the time. This happens often when you’re talking about yourself and someone else. Here’s an example
Grandma gave the cookies to Jenny and I. (wrong)

The trick is to eliminate that ‘other’ person from the sentence and see what’s left
Grandma gave the cookies to me (that’s right)

5. Using wrong words to exaggerate your feelings
Many people believe badly to be a more genteel form of bad. So when they’re expressing hurt, regret, sadness, or sympathy, they say, ‘I feel badly for you’.

It’s important to note that these two words are not interchangeable. If someone hurt your feelings, you feel bad.

Badly implies incompetence or inadequacy. If you feel badly, then it means that your emotions aren’t working well. For example, Spain have played badly this year

Wrapping up
Spellchecker is a handy tool that enables you to quickly spot spelling & grammatical mistakes. However, it’s always good to take the extra step and carefully proofread your work. Error-free writing not only gives the readers a sense of professionalism but also enables people to trust you (and your company) and do business with you.

Author Bio
Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Growth & Marketing Strategy. He’s the Founder of Ubiq BI , a BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises. He also runs the Fedingo blog that covers a wide range of marketing topics.


Check out these lessons:
Homophones intro
lose, loose
to, too, two
Using memory tricks