There is a poem that has been around for a number of years that illustrates the danger of exclusive reliance on the spell check feature when editing your writing. The poem says, in part:
Eye halve a spelling cheque
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
There are 14 errors in this 23-word text. The spell check catches exactly none of them. This illustrates how easily errors can remain without getting fixed if you don’t have an eye for detail.
To further illustrate the point, here are 3 common writing errors that get past the untrained editing eye.
- Their or There – “Their” is a possessive pronoun. “There” is mainly an adverb or pronoun used to identify a thing or location. The most common error with these words is when “there” is used where “their” should be. “My friends are hurting because someone broke into there home.”
- Your or You’re – “Your” is a possessive pronoun. “You’re” is a contraction of “you are.” Errors such “your going to regret that” are quite common.
- Improper apostrophe use – This is an extension of the previous error. It is also the biggest pet peeve I have. It drives me nuts. An apostrophe is used to indicate possession and should not be used in plural nouns. The two-state region in which I reside is NOT “Carolina’s.” It is “Carolinas.” There is also lots of confusion around “it’s” and “its.” You use “it’s” when you are actually saying “it is” and “its” when referring to another noun, because it is a possessive pronoun. “It’s time to go” and “the company must protect its reputation.” This seems contrary to possession requiring an apostrophe, but think of it with other possessive pronouns like his, hers and theirs – those also have no apostrophe.
Why does this matter? Those that point out these errors are referred to as “grammar / spelling police” or told if a debate is in process, “this proves I’m right, because all you can do is point out grammar errors.” However, sloppy writing compromises your credibility. This is not nit-picking, being a perfectionist, or being the Writing Police. This is a matter of doing things well. Seeing these errors rampant in what people write stirs strong emotions in me as a Virtual Assistant. These things are taught in elementary school. I’m a grown-up, not an elementary school kid. I should use the language properly!
If you have troubles keeping “there/their” or “you’re/your” or apostrophes straight, it really slows down your writing. A Virtual Assistant that is a stickler for detail can help you. Contact me for a free 30-minute consultation to discuss how I can help you write like a pro!