Beware! Your Word Processor’s Spell and Grammar Check Is Not Always Correct

The word processor is a marvel indeed – it is to the typewriter what a jet plane is to the ox cart. It simplifies, streamlines, reduces and lightens workload tremendously; however it does have its limitations. In particular the spell and grammar check tool can be rather fallible. It may think you are wrong when you are not and vice versa. In the end, manual proofreading by an able, human editor is indispensable for many reasons.

Spelling is checked but not its usage

A lot of errors may go unnoticed because the word processor spell check tool will not flag words even if they are used incorrectly; so long as their spelling is correct. So words that are actually typos; such as ‘fined’ instead of ‘find’, ‘your’ instead ‘you’re’, ‘to’ instead of ‘too’ can creep in. The word processor cannot deal with nuance or the complexity of language and may often flag the correct as incorrect and vice versa.

Proper nouns may not be recognized

This is another problem particularly with the names of people or even the names of places that may have more than one correct spelling. One reason is the fact that many people choose to spell their names differently than the norm: Smythe rather than Smith, Krystyn rather than Christine and so on.

Then there is the fact that cultural, geographical and linguistic and social differences may also cause confusion. For instance a word processor that is based on American English will not recognize most Indian or Chinese names. It may also not recognize any of the more obscure geographical locations and may lump all of these as spelling errors even if they are not.

No suggestion for words severely misspelled

Sometimes the hand may be misplaced on the keyboard and as a result the words can come out typed as gibberish or very severely misspelled. In such cases, the word processor has no solutions, and you may well scratch your head about what you meant to say in the first place!

Cannot understand what you mean

Grammar rules and dictionary spellings are all very well; but the computer is unable to understand the sense of what you want to convey and may err by flagging correct writing or not flagging incorrect writing.

May mix up homophones

Word processors also routinely fail to spot the difference between words like ‘rein’ and ‘reign’, ‘flare’ and ‘flair’, ‘poo’ and ‘pooh’, ‘cord’ and ‘chord’, ‘waved’ and ‘waived’ and so many more.

Given below is a well known humorous spell checker poem that describes many of the ways in which it can be fallible:

Eye halve a spelling chequer (I have a spelling checker)

It came with my Pea Sea. (It came with my PC)

It plane lee marks four my revue (It plainly marks for my review)

Miss Steaks eye kin knot sea. (mistakes I cannot see)

Eye strike a quay and type a word (I strike a key and type a word)

And weight four it two say (and wait for it to say)

Weather eye yam write oar wrong. (whether I am right or wrong)

It shows me strait a weigh (it shows me straightaway)

as soon as a mist ache is maid. (as soon as a mistake is made)

It nose bee fore two long (It knows before too long)

and eye can put the error rite. (and I can put the error right)

Its rare lea ever wrong. (It’s rarely ever wrong)

Eye have run this poem threw it, (I have run this poem through it)

I am shore your pleased to no. (I am sure you’re pleased to know)

Its letter perfect awl the way. (It’s letter perfect all the way)

My checker told me sew. (My checker told me so)

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