Spellcheck has integrated itself deep within our lives; almost to a point where we don’t even realise it auto-corrects our typos. It is on PowerPoint, emails, and even website builders. For most people, Microsoft Word is their go-to-programme to use Spellcheck. It is human nature to believe something that has been around for decades would be completely full proof. Guess what? It isn’t! Here’s a good example:
Spell check will not fine words witch are miss used butt spelled rite! (Try copying this sentence into MS Word)
Here are 6 types of mistakes that will slip past MS Word’s spelling and grammar checkers.
1. Incorrect Pronouns
Spellcheck does not discriminate at all. In fact, it assumes all males and females are equal (including all variations of pronouns).
Alice loves animals. He has 5 cats. Him favourite cat is Mia. It loves Mia because she fur is beautiful.
Alice could even pass as “it”!
2. Incorrect Verb Tenses
It’s interesting that Spellcheck has no sense of time. So it cannot warn you of incorrect past or present verb tenses.
The man has a major heart attack back in 2010. Now, he had a pacemaker.
Making mistakes like these in a presentation could be a real heart stopper.
3. Dates & Numbers
Unlike words, numbers are always numerically correct unless there is context to it; say, in a mathematical formula, or a date. Here is an example.
In 1015, 2.6 billion Ringgit disappeared.
Now, there is no mistake about year “1015”. However, contextually, we know it’s not possible since the Ringgit only appeared 900+ years later.
4. Missing Words
In a culture where clipping words in a conversation is a norm, we have to be extra cautious when writing because Spellcheck will not be there to save you. This next sentence may sound correct in a conversation, but try to spot the missing words.
One month since the petrol prices went up. The next hike coming soon.
If only Spellcheck could correct your sentence to...
It’s been a month since the petrol prices went up. The next hike is coming soon.
5. Incorrectly Divided Compound Words
Spellcheck won't tell you that "rain bow" should be spelled "rainbow", or that "gold fish" should be "goldfish". This is because when a compound word is split, they are still legitimate words that exist but, with completely different definitions from the compound word.
This is my favourite because I have just discovered this limitation of Spellcheck. Let me show you a few examples of similar-sounding words that I have jumbled up in a sentence which have slipped the Spellcheck test.
Tom and Katie always get there apples from their backyard. Their neighbours know they can get it from their too.
Could you please pair my pear with the knife? Kim and Kris make a cute pare.
I right very well. Please write me a cheque with the write amount.
So, it is pretty evident that A LOT can get pass your computer’s Spellcheck. However, it is important to note that these limitations have nothing to do with technology or software, but rather the expansive nature of the English language itself. The bottom line is that technology, while useful and saves time, is still not advanced enough to substitute good old-fashion human proofreading. Have a buddy look through your work the next time; or better yet, outsource to a professional.