While spell check can save you from some embarrassing errors–like misspelling “misspell” or “embarrassing”–it also can encourage a reputation-damaging sense of infallibility. Some spelling errors just won’t be highlighted for you, because what you’ve written is a properly spelled word–it’s just the wrong word or the wrong use of the word.
Frequently this issue arises with compound words or contractions, but all kinds of troublesome words can sneak into your digital landscape. Here are 11 examples:
- “You’re”–perhaps the most abused word, it’s often shunned unwittingly for “your.” The proper spelling is: “You’re welcome,” not “Your welcome.”
- “They’re”–Exposed to similar, if not as frequent, mauling as “you’re,” “they’re” is periodically written as “their.” Correct spellings are: “They’re arriving today” and “We anticipate their arrival.”
- “Uninformed”–Leave out the second “n” and this word’s meaning changes from “not having knowledge” to “wearing military clothing.” (And ask any public relations professional what happens when he leaves out the “l” in his firm’s descriptor.)
- “Pore”–More often than not, the word “pour” is improperly substituted. You can pore over a book, or you can pour water into a brook. But if you pour over a book, it invariably will get soggy.
- “Spinoff”–one of many compound nouns that people frequently try to use as a verb. Remember that the verb forms of compound nouns generally, but not always, are two words. So it is proper to write: “We want to spin off our company” and equally fitting to write: “Our company is a spinoff from Acme Anvils.” Different sources will accept compound nouns as single words or hyphenated (spin-off), but verbs are usually two words.
- “Setup”–This is the noun; “set up” is the verb. Correct: “Please set up an appointment” and “I didn’t care for the setup of the office.”
- “Kickoff”–You can arrive in time for the kickoff, but you kick off a campaign.
- “Carry-over”–The right forms are: “We want to carry over our vacation time to next year” and “Please store the carry-over in the warehouse.”
- “Write”–When we are writing quickly, sometimes we write “right” instead of “write,” as in, “I wanted to right you to explain.” Always take the time to re-read and edit your e-mails before hitting the send button.
- “Everyday”–Here’s a case where a compound word is always an adjective. So, it’s right to write: “I’m tired of my everyday routine.” When you mean “each day,” however, the phrase should be two words: “I will visit you every day.”
- “Anyway”–As one word, “anyway” is an adverb meaning “regardless.” “The store was closed, but we tried opening the door anyway.” As two words, it means “in any manner.” So it would be: “Travel any way that you choose.”
By the way, I ran my first draft of this post through spell check and still found half a dozen items it didn’t (and isn’t supposed to) catch, like missing end-quotes and incorrect verb tense; so use your computer as a tool, not a substitute for your brain.