Don’t rely on your Spell-checker, they aren’t very smart.

Proof reading your work is always important. We are all guilty of relying on spell-check to tell us if we have misspelled something, but we forget that it only looks at words, not their meaning. There are common words in the English language that we often use incorrectly, and spell check won’t catch these errors for us.

Below is an example of words that can trip-up a spell-checker if we use them incorrectly.

Ode to My Spell Checker.
Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marks four my revue miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a quay and type a word and weight for it to say
Weather eye yam wrong oar write.
It shows me strait a weigh as soon as a mist ache is maid.
It nose bee fore two long and eye can put the error rite.
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it,
I am shore your pleased to no.
Its letter perfect awl the way.
My checker told me sew.

Be careful with the grammar checker as well. The paragraph below (which actually isn’t a paragraph) shows no errors in Word.

“Marketing are bad for brand big and small. You Know What I am Saying? It is no wondering that advertisings are bad for company in America, Chicago and Germany. …McDonald’s and Coca Cola are good brand. …Gates do good marketing job in Microsoft.”


Here are a few more word pairs that spell check won’t catch:

All Ready & Already
The phrase all ready means completely prepared. Already is an adverb meaning previously or by this time.

All Together & Altogether
The phrase all together refers to people or things gathered in one place. The adverb altogether means entirely or wholly.

Baited & Bated
A hook, witness, or animal is baited (lured, enticed, tempted). Breath is bated (moderated).

Cite & Site
The verb cite means to mention or quote as an authority or example. The noun site means a particular place.

Complement & Compliment
Complement means something that completes or brings to perfection. A compliment is an expression of praise.

Discreet & Discrete
The adjective discreet means tactful or prudent self-restraint. Discrete means distinct or separate.

Formally & Formerly
The adverb formally means in a formal way. The adverb formerly means at an earlier time.

Lightening & Lightning
The noun lightening means making lighter in weight or changing to a lighter or brighter color. Lightning is the flash of light that accompanies thunder.

Prescribe & Proscribe
The verb prescribe means to establish, direct, or lay down as a rule. The verb proscribe means to ban, forbid, or condemn.

Stationary & Stationery
The adjective stationary means remaining in one place. The noun stationery refers to writing materials. (Try associating the er in stationery with the er in letter and paper.)


More resources has a glossary of words that could potentially present problems if used incorrectly.

The Oatmeal has some great examples of words we commonly misuse.


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1 Response to Don’t rely on your Spell-checker, they aren’t very smart.

  1. Trish Logan says:

    Excellent Reminders! ____________

    Trish Logan Beyond Words, Inc. 6010 W. Mount Auburn Drive Indianapolis, IN 46224 317-241-5773

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