Where there’s Proof

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?)

imagesProofreading 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 proofimgres 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.

 

images-1There 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.) 🙂

A lot/Allot

Accept/Except

Affect/Effect

Adverse/Averse

Aesthetic/Ascetic

Allusion/Illusion/Hallucination

Alter/Altar

Appraise/Apprise

Arc/Arch

Ascent/Assent

Assure/Ensure/Insure

Aught/Ought

Advice/Advise

Board/Bored

Born/Borne

Breath/Breathe

Buy/By

Brought/bought

Can’t/Cant

Canvas/Canvass

Complementary/Complimentary

Complacence/complaisance

Contiguous/Continual/Continuous

Contingent/Contingency

Copy Write/Copyright

Counsellor/Councillor

Crotch/Crutch

Clinched/Clenched

Decent/Descent

Defuse/Diffuse

Desert/Dessert

Disassemble/Dissemble

Disburse/Disperse

Discreet/Discrete

Disinterested/Uninterested

Emigration/Immigration/Migration

Eminent/Imminent

Forego/Forgo

Grate/Great

Hangar/Hanger

Hear/Here

Hoard/Horde

Imply/Infer

Inherent/Inherit

Isle/Aisle

Jive/Jibe

Lay/Lie

Loathe/Loath/Loth

Lose/Loose

Of/Have

Pallet/Palate/Palette

Past/Passed

Personnel/Personal

Practice/Practise

Prescribe/Proscribe

Principle/Principal

Quite/Quiet

Reign/Rein

Regiment/Regimen

Sat/Set/Sit

Site/Sight/Cite

Stationary/Stationery

Suit/Suite

Taught/Taut/Tort

Than/Then

Throe/Throw

Threw/Through

To/Too/Two

Waive/Wave

Want/Wont

Weather/Whether

Wonder/Wander

 

Commonly Misspelled Words:

 Acceptable

Accidentally

Accommodate

Acquire

Acquit

All right (alright is incorrect)

Amateur

Apparent

Argument

Atheist

Beatific

Beautiful

Believe

Calendar

Category

Cemetery

Changeable

Collectible

Column

Committed

Conscience

Conscientious

Conscious

Consensus

Definite

Discipline

Drunkenness

Dumbbell

Embarrass

Environment

Equipment

Exhilarate

Exceed

Existence

Experience

Fiery

Foreign

Gauge

Grateful

Guarantee

Harass

Height

Hierarchy

Humorous

Ignorance

Immediate

Independent

Indispensible

Inoculate

Intelligence

Its/It’s

Kernel/Colonel

Lieutenant

Leisure

Liaison

Library

License

Maintenance

Medieval

Memento

Millennium

Miniature

Minuscule

Mischievous

Misspell (LOL—it’s true! Most people want to write it as ‘Mispell’)

Necessary

Noticeable

Occasionally

Occurrence

Pastime

Perseverance

Playwright

Possession

Precede

Privilege

Pronunciation

Publicly

Questionnaire

Receive

Receipt

Recommend

Referred

Reference

Relevant

Restaurant

Rhyme

Rhythm

Schedule

Separate

Sergeant

Supersede

Threshold

Twelfth

Tyranny

Until

Vacuum

Watch

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 🙂

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17 thoughts on “Where there’s Proof

  1. I love lists, Harmony, and these are wonderful ones.

    Because I work as an editor, I can attest to the truth of everything you said. It’s difficult to proof your own work, precisely because you know what to expect and what you meant. That’s why I always advocate (even to editors who are also authors) seeking a proofer who is unfamiliar with your document.

    If you have to read your own work, try reading aloud, which will both slow your pace and let you actually “hear” what you’ve said. Another trick (although I admit I just can’t do this myself; I don’t have the patience) is to read backward. This will supposedly help you notice repetitive words and misspellings.

    And having just written this word, I’ll point out another one—patience/patients 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • So true, Staci! Yes, reading aloud is great. Like you, reading backward just doesn’t work for me. Oooh, and another pair not on the list: Aloud/Allowed. Thanks so much for your lovely comments! 🙂

      Like

  2. Good points and good tips, Harmony. No matter how much I proof and edit my own stuff, I still have mistakes slip through–which is why I rely on my critique partner and professional editors. It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook something when you’re familiar with your own work.

    As for that list of words, affect/effect is one that always trips me up and “sergeant” and “restaurant” are words I routinely have to think out when I spell them, otherwise I get them wrong every time. I think I’ve got a mental block about those two (among others)! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae! Yep, unless I put my manuscript away for a month or two, I will always miss stuff if I try and proof my own work, lols. My brain anticipates too much 🙂 I, too, have words that just won’t stick for whatever reason and I have to look them up!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice to meet you, Harmony!
    Yes, useful and informative post, and the list is to be saved.
    A piece of advice I received from my editor for a more efficient recheck of my manuscript – “Change the font size or zoom the text.” It worked great for me. And another one from her, too: “To make sure you catch as many of the typos as possible, do repeated readings: proofread by cycles. In each cycle, check just one particular issue, and ignore the rest.” To tell you the truth, I tried it the latter, but…. didn’t work so well for me.
    Carmen

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lovely to meet you, Carmens007! Oh yes, enlarging the text helps so much 🙂 I tend to check cycles at the end, more to ensure consistency than anything else. Thanks so much for stopping by and saying hi 🙂

      Like

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