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Grammar Tips & Tidbits

 

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Finding Typos That Spell-Checker Missed — Part I

 

In this issue of Grammar Tips & Tidbits, I'll be discussing a number of common typos that spell-checker won't catch, along with several tips for tracking them down.

When we're typing at light speed, it's very easy to skip or transpose letters. Most of the time, these mistakes result in non-words that spell-checker immediately recognizes as errors. However, we sometimes leave behind legitimate words with totally different meanings than the words we intended to type. These typos are real words, so spell-checker doesn't recognize them as errors.

Here are some examples of these tricky typos:
 

●  angel vs. angle ●  note vs. not
●  being vs. begin ●  of vs. off
●  causal vs. casual ●  or vs. of
●  form vs. from ●  red vs. read
●  god vs. good ●  read vs. ready
●  her  vs. here ●  sing vs. sign
●  know vs. now ●  son vs. soon
●  man vs. many ●  through vs. thorough
●  manger vs. manager ●  won  vs. own
●  meat vs. meant ●  word  vs. world
●  moth vs. month ●  you vs. your


The last pair of typos on the list—you vs. your—is probably the most common. We type both of these words so often that our fingers sometimes interchange them automatically.

Not to fear! Spell-checker may not be much help in these cases, but there are a few tricks you can use to locate these kinds of typos.

1) In many of the examples above, the words in each pair of typos come from different parts of speech, so the grammar-checker in your word processing program may notify you that something is wrong, but it probably won't indicate exactly what the problem is. When you see a green squiggly line in your documents, be sure to dig deeper to determine the issue.

2) Use your word processing program to search your documents for specific words. For example, do a search for the word you, and then review each instance to ensure that you didn't intend to type your. Then go through the same process for the word your.

3) When you're writing something really important, print out the piece and underline each word as you read it aloud. Underlining will force you to slow down and will make it easier to recognize when individual letters are missing or have been transposed.

4) For everyday communications that you don't have time to print and underline (such as e-mail messages), move your cursor along each word as you read aloud from the computer screen. In addition to helping you catch the typos listed above, this technique will also allow you to verify that you didn't inadvertently leave out words as you composed the message.

These proofreading methods all take time, but you'll find that they're worth the effort when you're aiming for error-free writing.

For a list of additional typos, click here to read Part II.

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