Harmony here. For those of you who haven’t met me yet … you still have time to run … 🙂 I’m the one with the nice (misleading) smile and the warped imagination, lols.
Today, I’d like to talk a bit about the importance of proofreading and look at some commonly misspelled words. (Did you know that ‘misspelled’ is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language?)
Proofreading your book is essential. You must not ever rely solely on your spellchecker, as it will lead you astray. A while ago, while reading a local newsletter, I came across something that amused me greatly:
While proofreading this newsletter we were struck by how many please for help there have been.
The word, of course, wants to be ‘pleas’. It might be worth noting that my spellchecker didn’t catch that when I typed this.
It is also a good idea to put your manuscript away for a week or two, minimum, if you intend to proof it yourself. This way, your brain will come at it fresh and not insert what it ‘knows’ should be there.
When we proofread, we don’t just read in the normal way. We take it word by word and study each letter. It’s a slow process. It takes a different approach to reading. As well as looking at spelling and grammar, we are checking for sense too.
If we are not up to scratch on our spelling ability, or punctuation, etc., then we really need to find someone who is. Because our own read through just will not catch enough of the mistakes we’ve inevitably made.
A professional proofreader also checks for accuracy of quotes, technical points, etc., as well as for possible copyright/libel issues. So, if you do perform your own proofread, then you need to take into account these aspects too, on top of the spelling, grammar, and basic punctuation.
Your proofread also needs to encompass consistency—in every area of your book: table of contents/chapter headings/ paragraph spacing/quote marks/page separation between chapters/line spacing/justification/font style and size/tense usage/etc.
There are many words that sound the same, but simply do not mean the same thing. These are the most commonly misspelled and misused words I come across. There are others, especially the ‘i before the e’ rule—which isn’t absolute! It is a good idea to have a dictionary to hand and to check if you’re not sure. The lists below will help you to look out for some of the most common pitfalls.
Commonly Misused Words:
There/Their/They’re = These all sound alike, yet have vastly different interpretations.
‘There’ points to ‘something’: It was there when I looked. I already looked there. There was an angry buzz.
‘Their’ points to ‘people owning’: Their house. Their clothes. Their children. Their jobs. Their parents.
‘They’re’ points to ‘people are’: They are wrong (They’re wrong). They are not alone (They’re not alone).
Your/You’re = Again, these sound exactly the same as each other but don’t share a common meaning.
‘Your’ is a ‘you’ owning something: Your mother. Your job. Your house. Your child. Your clothes.
‘You’re’ is a ‘you are’: You are still young (You’re still young). You are tall (You’re tall). You are lost (You’re lost).
Were/We’re = Again, similar sounds with dissimilar meanings.
‘Were’ is a ‘past something’: We were there yesterday. They were happy. Where were they then?
‘We’re’ is a ‘we are’: We are not doing that (We’re not doing that). We are not sure (We’re not sure). We are not there (We’re not there).
Others that are often used in error … (Being a Brit, I’ve given the UK spellings throughout this post.) 🙂
Commonly Misspelled Words:
All right (alright is incorrect)
Misspell (LOL—it’s true! Most people want to write it as ‘Mispell’)
Weird (exception to the ‘i before the e’ rule—as is ‘their’)
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ve found this fun and informative 🙂