7 Reasons Not to Rely on Spell or Grammar Checks

Spell and grammar checks are great features to have at your disposal in order to make sure that your writing is clear and free of many errors. However, relying on these two features to catch every grammar or spelling mistake is not smart for several reasons.

Anyone who writes papers, books, blogs, etc. should never rule out using the old-fashioned stack of books. You know, the ones with pages you turn. Personally, I update my copies of dictionaries, thesauruses, quick reference guides, and other trusted reference references regularly. (Did you catch that? See number four below.) Don’t forget, they also provide usages and etymologies. Don’t forget, they also provide usages and etymologies. Below is a list; you may want to think about keeping (a few)close at hand.

· Oxford English Dictionary

· American Heritage English Dictionary

· Merriam-Webster Dictionary

· Collins English Dictionary

· Oxford Dictionary of Current English

· The Alpha List

· Specialty dictionaries such as those on Law or Psychology

· Guides for spelling

· Children’s dictionaries

· Foreign language dictionaries

Here are 7 reasons why not to use spelling and grammar checks as your only resource.

1. They don’t consider context A huge problem with relying solely on these features is that they can’t detect the context in which words are being used. This results in spelling and grammar mistakes being missed. For instance, if you were to type “I’d rather eat pizza then chicken,” but mean “I’d rather eat pizza than chicken,” your check feature would not detect the error. Both words are spelled correctly, so even though one is used incorrectly, it will not be caught.

2. They’re not always up to date Nothing in language is stagnant. The truth is that language is constantly evolving. New words are added to the dictionary every year. New ways of saying things emerge. Not only are there hundreds of words and phrases added, including colloquialisms, other words are newly defined as archaic. Another problem with using grammar and spelling checks is that they sometimes contain algorithms which are not up to date with modern language. So, even though you might be spelling a word correctly, your spell check might tell you that you’re spelling it incorrectly. This is not only annoying, but potentially harmful to what you’re writing.

3. It may not always be there for you Sure, when you’re using your computer, you have access to your spell and grammar checks. But what about when you’re using a different computer? At that point, you’ll be left to your own devices if the checkers are not available and up to date. This doesn’t mean that you should completely stop using your word and grammar checks. It just means that you should pay attention and proofread what you write. This turns you into both a better writer and a better editor.

4. They won’t catch every mistake you make While they are fairly sophisticated features, grammar and spell checks are far from perfect. The truth of the matter is they sometimes allow sentences which don’t make much sense grammatically. For instance, if you were to type, “Raymond the the boy inside was walking,” the grammar check would not detect it as incorrect. Nor will it catch the punctuation error (lack of commas). Clearly, this is a problem. It’s necessary to always read sentences yourself to assure they make sense grammatically.

5. They prevent you from becoming a better writer Part of becoming better at something is learning from your mistakes. If you have a spell or grammar check instantly correcting errors, you won’t ever learn how to correct them yourself. Perhaps you often use the word “defiantly” instead of “definitely.” If you allow your checks to correct you on its own, you’ll never get a chance to stop and notice what you’re doing wrong.

6. They can turn you into a lazy writer The last thing you want to do as a writer is get into a boring, repetitive rut. As you’re writing, you should be consciously thinking about the words you’re typing, considering how they affect each other, and contribute to the overall piece. If you use spelling and grammar checks, you’ll often just blaze through a sentence or paragraph without any real, conscious thought. In essence, check features turn you into a lazy writer; a writer who never gets better or reaches the next level.

7. Spelling and grammar can affect SEO While they’re not the biggest factors in search engine optimization, spelling and grammar do have an effect on search engine ranking. It has been proven that pages which use correct grammar and spelling generally rank higher than those that do not. In fact, the algorithms have become so advanced, they can almost “read” your content and drop your ranking. Additionally, errors in writing are directly connected to your bounce rate. Most readers believe this a reflection of the quality of your product or service. Knowing this, it’s important that you take as much time as possible to perfect your spelling as well as your grammar. Don’t let spell and grammar checks do all the work for you. Let your analytical, human mind decide whether or not the wording is correct and up to snuff.

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