While spell check can save you from some embarrassing errors–likemisspelling “misspell” or “embarrassing”–it also can encourage areputation-damaging sense of infallibility.  Some spelling errorsjust won’t be highlighted for you, because what you’ve written is a properlyspelled word–it’s just the wrongword or the wrong use of the word. 

Frequently this issue arises with compound words or contractions, but allkinds of troublesome words can sneak into your digital landscape.  Hereare 11 examples:

  1. “You’re”–perhaps the most abused word,it’s often shunned unwittingly for “your.”  The proper spelling is:“You’re welcome,” not “Your welcome.”
  2. “They’re”–Exposed to similar, if not asfrequent, mauling as “you’re,” “they’re” is periodically written as “their.” Correct spellings are: “They’re arriving today” and “We anticipate theirarrival.”
  3. “Uninformed”–Leave out the second “n”and this word’s meaning changes from “not having knowledge” to “wearingmilitary clothing.”  (And ask any public relations professional whathappens when he leaves out the “l” in his firm’s descriptor.) 
  4. “Pore”–More often than not, the word“pour” is improperly substituted.  You can pore over a book, or you canpour water into a brook.  But if you pour over a book, itinvariably will get soggy.
  5. “Spinoff”–one of many compound nounsthat people frequently try to use as a verb.  Remember that the verb formsof compound nouns generally, but not always, are two words.  So it isproper to write: “We want to spin off our company” and equally fitting towrite: “Our company is a spinoff from Acme Anvils.”  Different sourceswill accept compound nouns as single words or hyphenated (spin-off), but verbsare usually two words.
  6. “Setup”–This is the noun; “set up” isthe verb.  Correct: “Please set up an appointment” and “I didn’t care forthe setup of the office.”
  7. “Kickoff”–You can arrive in time forthe kickoff, but you kick off a campaign.
  8. “Carry-over”–The right forms are: “Wewant to carry over our vacation time to next year” and “Please store thecarry-over in the warehouse.”
  9. “Write”–When we are writing quickly,sometimes we write “right” instead of “write,” as in, “I wanted to right you toexplain.”  Always take the time to re-read and edit your e-mails beforehitting the send button.
  10. “Everyday”–Here’s a case where acompound word is always an adjective.  So, it’s right to write: “I’m tiredof my everyday routine.”  When you mean “each day,” however, the phraseshould be two words: “I will visit you every day.” 
  11. “Anyway”–As one word, “anyway” is anadverb meaning “regardless.”  “The store was closed, but we tried openingthe door anyway.”  As two words, it means “in any manner.”  So itwould be: ”Travel any way that you choose.”

By the way, I ran my first draft of this postthrough spell check and still found half a dozen items it didn’t (andisn’t supposed to) catch, like missing end-quotes and incorrect verbtense; so use your computer as a tool, not a substitute for your brain.

Steve Friedman