A Word about Dumb Spell-Checkers

I’m of the opinion we should do away with spell-checkers. For one thing, they’re a bit like calculators (except flawed). Remember when you had to actually learn and memorize your multiplication tables? Anyone recall how to do long division? Oh-no! What do you do if your smartphone dies at the restaurant and you have no way to calculate the 15% tip? Boy, will you be in trouble.

Okay . . . I’m sure I made my point. What’s so wrong about learning how to spell well? Sure, even the smartest and most learned have to look up the spelling of a word on occasion (unless you’re a national spelling bee champion, but those people study the dictionary, like, eight hours a day). And another thing: spell-checkers are often just plain wrong. To me, it’s like giving the kid with the D in English the job of correcting everyone’s spelling. Say what?

Run this sentence through your spell-checker: “The ideal candidate will posses great charisma.” Your checker will not catch the misspelling of posses, which, to it, is the plural of posse. Spell-checkers don’t get grammar, and they can’t think. Really.

Sure, you can catch some mistakes with your spell-checker, but please don’t rely on it to do a thorough and accurate job. Spend some time and learn how to spell. Study grammar. You want to be a great writer? Be a great speller while you’re at it. Learn how to conjugate verbs correctly. All the effort you put out to master your language can only help you in the long run to be a stronger writer. Enough said. Now, enjoy this poem that shows why you might need a human proofreader to correct your writing (author anonymous):

I have a lovely spelling check
That came with my PC,
Witch plainly marks, four my revue,
Miss takes I can not sea.
I’ve run this poem threw the thing.
I’m sure your please too no.
It’s latter perfect in every weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

Happy righting!

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  1. Ha!! Another thing that’s bad are those grammar checkers. They don’t catch mistakes, and sometimes marks correct grammar with error. Lesson learned, don’t be lazy – PROOFREAD!!


  2. I’ve been railing about spell-check for years. People who don’t know how to spell to begin with have no idea that their reliance on this magic embedded in our computers is fatal.
    I’m in agreement with the above comment that asks the question, “what’s son wrong with learning to spell well?” As for A.G.’s comment about proofreading – if those folk could proofread, they’d not have to use spell-check in the first place.
    And, oh yes, indeed – I loved the poem.

  3. I love the poem! And I fully agree about not relying on spell checkers. I copied your example into a Word doc and the only thing it “caught” was grammar – supposedly there needs to be an “s” on either candidate or will. I have always been a stickler for correct spelling and grammar and, though I do catch some typos with the spell check it picks up many more non-errors than actual ones. And have you noticed when you click on a so-called spelling error some of the ridiculous options they give you. Some of their options are not even real words. Who on earth invented those things, anyway? :-)I would rather rely on my numerous dictionaries and thesauruses (is that the correct plural of thesaurus? It didn’t red line it, anyway).

  4. Loved the poem! I think I’m going to copy and paste it to a Sticky Note on my desktop. Also, even those of us “geeky” kids who competed/won in spelling bees still need to look up words occasionally!


  5. I don’t mind the old style grammar and spellcheck. They put squiggly lines under the words or phrases and let us decide if we felt it needed fixin’. These new ones seem to act mind readers, changing the word to something more appropriate and often they are totally wrong.
    I had planned to move my writing to my new iMac, but the idea that my words will be changed by, OF ALL THINGS, a machine has me somewhat crazy, esp. after watching the movie “Prometheus” the other night! 😉 <3

  6. I use the spell/grammar check to red line passive voice. As a new writer, I still find my writing falling into that trap quite often.

    Often I disagree with the opinion of the checker. I usually stick with what feel correct to me. Reading the passage aloud always helps me to decide.

    Sometimes I make an intentional “mistake.” Those mistakes, though incorrect in formal English, often add interest. As I am developing my voice as a writer, I have found that small idiosyncrasie often make the written word more seem more real and vital. The best stories are those that rise up out of the page and play like a movie in my mind. Imagination knows nothing of grammer and spelling. A perfect example is that iconic book, The Color Purple.

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