Search Results for: spelling

NOW will you listen to why good spelling matters?

If you still think good spelling doesn’t really matter in these informal online days, just take a look at this catalogue of stupid goofs.

But don’t laugh. Why? Because most of these images shared on social media serve only to remind us why if we want to be taken seriously, we need to get our spelling right.

HTWB spelling mistake are dangerous

This was on social media recently. Numerous jokes were made about “brians.” The poor lady’s message was forgotten.

If spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. are wrong, people tend to focus on that

And while they’re chuckling at a mistake, what else happens? [Read more…]

Common spelling goofs 3 – 10 Quick Tips

HTWB 10 tips logoWelcome to yet another 10 Quick Tips – this time the third and final part of common spelling goofs / homophones, following on from this one, and this one

According to Sondra Smith from Write The Right Words and author of Whata Ewe Mean Bye That?” there are over 2,680 homophones in the English language and in this series we have only covered 30! Here are the final ten…

Which are your favorites? And have you any you’d like to add to this section of the alphabet? [Read more…]

Common spelling goofs 2 – 10 Quick Tips

Common spelling goofs 2 - 10 Quick TipsWelcome to yet another 10 Quick Tips – this time the second part of common spelling goofs / homophones, following on from this one. Which are your favorites? And have you any you’d like to add to this section of the alphabet? [Read more…]

Common spelling goofs 1 – 10 Quick Tips

Common spelling goofs 1 - 10 Quick TipsWelcome to another in the 10 Quick Tips series … this time we look at some very common spelling (or word choice) mistakes. Which do you think are the most common of these? And which ones would you add to the list?

1.Accept – Except … accept (v.) = to agree, to agree to receive … except (prep.) (conj.) = apart from, leave out

2.Affect – Effect … affect (v.) = to make a difference to … effect (n.) = how something affects you … also effect (v.) = to bring about, make happen

3.Base – Bass … base (n. and v.) = foundation, to structure something … bass (n.) = musical instrument, (adj.) measure of male voice

4.For – Fore – Four … for (prep.) = suiting the requirements of … fore (adj.) = forward, at the front … four (n.) = the number 4

5.Foreword – Forward … foreword (n.) = introduction to a book … forward (adj. and adv.) = eager, going ahead

6.Hear – Here … hear (v.) = to listen to … here (adv.) (n.) (adj.)= at this point or place

7.Licence – License … tricky one. In the main, licence = a noun and license = a verb, but in the USA license often is used to mean both noun and verb. Your call….!

8.Lose – Loose … lose (v.) pronounced “looz” = to misplace or be deprived of something … loose (adj.) pronounced with a soft “s” = free from attachment. Spellings often cause confusion, but then so does much of the English language…

9. Miner – Minor … Miner (n.) = someone who works in a mine … minor (adj.) = lesser, smaller, also (n.) under-age person

10.Muscle – Mussel … muscle (n.) = soft tissue parts of your body, also strength (v.) (adj.) … mussel (n.) = a type of mollusk or clam.

Check out the next article in this series here

Does your spelling make you want to spit?

Accurate spelling is something I value. Do you? I know that sounds very old-fashioned in the light of modern day text messaging and online shortcuts and abbreviations. But like most things there are good reasons behind what sometimes appears like unnecessary rule-following. In the case of good spelling, I believe the reason is to maintain uniformity, which leads to accuracy.

The other reason why some people see good spelling as desirable is to demonstrate the writer’s level of education and literacy, but I’m not sure if this is a particularly accurate gauge. One of the worst spellers I’ve ever known was a doctor who could write out prescriptions using perfect 20-letter pharmaceutical terms but couldn’t write a postcard to his mother without 6 or 7 goofs in it. The other atrocious speller I know is a brilliant mathematician and is definitely not dyslexic.

Spell checkers are OK, but not perfect

Most word processing software includes some sort of spelling checker device and these are helpful, but not infallible. They will pick up typos and glaring mistakes but, being machines, are far too logical to cope with the insanity of the English language and can’t deal with homophones or wrong words that are spelled right or apostrophes appearing in the wrong place.

Many word processing packages also incorporate grammar/syntax nannies, rather like mine which sticks a disapproving green line under most of my work. I ignore it. Finally, most word processing packages give you the option to select UK or USA spellings, which leads us directly into another can of worms.

English language driving you nuts? Some more solutions, with a smile
Click on the green titles here for other articles to give you a chuckle – and to help you write better, too.
Tautology: are you guilty of wasting words?
Business writing quiz: how many grammar questions can you get right?
Grammar is groovy. Haven’t you heard?
Grammar: if you’re going to get it wrong, get it REALLY wrong…
Essential, er, grammar rules
Do you get the syntax attacks? Here’s the cure…
English language cringe makers: you need a sense of humor when you speak it

Which English spellings – UK or US?

Many people ask me how text should be spelled for international English language communication. My answer is I don’t know. Possibly you should spell according to the organization’s country of origin – where its headquarters and roots are. But that gets blown straight out of the water if the company’s origins are a small distillery in the Highlands of Scotland which has now been supplemented by a multi-million dollar manufacturing and distribution operation incorporating 24 huge factory/warehouse sites coast to coast in the United States.

Possibly, then, you should spell according to the country in which the largest amount of the organization’s business is done, but with hierarchies being what they are this may not work out evenly either. Probably, though, if we wait for a while the internet will solve the problem because, through its aggressive internationalism, English language spellings will become standardized everywhere.

And because the US has the rest of us by the short hairs on the internet there are no prizes for guessing which type of English we’ll standardize to. Although the mere thought of it will make most British-speak purists burst into tears, I must say I’m looking forward to the day when I can write out a “check” in the UK for new “tires” on my car and then go home and watch a good “program” on TV.

(By the way, if you want a great little guide to English words on either side of The Pond, you’ll love my book, “English To English – the A to Z of British-American translations.”)

So what can you do to improve your spelling?

In the first instance, consult your spell checker and then be sure to human-check any ambiguous elements. Also, use the Thesaurus facility if you’re unsure how to spell a particular word; enter a simpler synonym that you can spell, and your other word should come up.

Alternatively, at the risk of sounding like my usual low-tech self, I would say use a dictionary. Despite being paper-based, a dictionary is often the faster way to find a word.

A bit of (clean) fun to finish

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

Yes, you got it:

“According to a researcher (sic) at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.”

So it seems as long as the first and last letters of a word are correct, our eyes/brains are programmed to understand it. Does this blow the whole need for good spelling out of the water?

More help to stop you spitting:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

Bad spelling and typos: now the crooks are cashing in

It’s not just your street cred that can suffer due to bad spelling and other mistakes, according to this BBC News article – crooks are cashing in on online spelling and punctuation typos and potentially raking in fortunes at the goofers’ expense.

The article outlines research conducted by the information security think tank Godai Group, into what they call “domain typo-squatting.” The research points out that “By creating web domains that contained commonly mistyped names, the investigators received emails that would otherwise not be delivered. Over six months they grabbed 20GB of data made up of 120,000 wrongly sent messages. Some of the intercepted correspondence contained user names, passwords, and details of corporate networks.”

Surely typos and spelling mistakes don’t matter?

As you’ll see if you read the BBC article, such innocent errors can open up a number of different cans of worms, all of which could possibly cause companies to hemorrhage thousands or even millions. And that’s not the only potential cost to business of bad spelling, grammar and punctuation.

There’s more. A few months ago in another article of mine here on HTWB I quoted a certain Mr Charles Duncombe of  JustSayPlease Ltd who had spoken out in an earlier BBC News article. According to him, “it is possible to identify the specific impact of a spelling mistake on sales. He says he measured the revenue per visitor to the website and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected. ‘If you project this across the whole of internet retail then millions of pounds worth of business is probably being lost each week due to simple spelling mistakes.’”

So if typos and spelling mistakes now have a price on their heads, where next?

That’s a good question. In my previous article on the subject I list some tips which can help, and when I Googled “improve spelling for adults” just now I got nearly 11 million results. Obviously there is help out there if you really want and need it.

However I firmly believe the vast majority of spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes are made not out of ignorance, but out of carelessness – hence “typos” which are accidental goofs. So many people laugh and tell me “oh, my fingers can’t keep up with my brain when I’m writing, so I make loads of mistakes. Never mind, the spell checker deals with those.”

Trouble is, spell checkers aren’t psychic and don’t always know what we mean when we make a typo (a.k.a spelling or punctuation mistake.) And spell checkers don’t know whether someone spells their name “McGregor” or “MacGregor” … if a URL contains the words “” or “” or even if someone “has spoken to them” rather than “has spoke to them.”

Aren’t we forgetting good old human power here?

With our ever-increasing dependence on electronic devices to do everything from adding up our grocery bills to keeping our hearts pumping, it’s easy to imagine we can type away on our keyboards or keypads and assume the technology will clean up after our goofs like some sort of digital dustpan and brush.

Perhaps it’s only now, then, when typos and spelling mistakes are beginning to cost us money that we can be bothered to stop and check back what we’ve written. I know it’s unfashionably low-tech, but to proofread your text doesn’t take long – and won’t just improve your street cred; it could also save you and your organization a lot of money.

Keep your writing on the successful straight and narrow:

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand