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Article on Writing
Check and Re-Check Your Spellchecker
© 2001 Diana Redman

You've finished! The article, short story, novel - whatever it is you've written is finally down on paper (of sorts).

You've checked your grammar as you've gone along, made sure all the red and green squiggly Word-produced lines have been taken care of and are generally feeling quite proud of yourself. And so you should. All creative writing is a labour of love and we all give of ourselves to produce it.

The final thing to do, before we print it out and send it off to the eagerly awaiting publishing world, is spellcheck it.

And this is where it can go horribly wrong, when we begin to get, as I call it, click-happy. Oh, yes, ignore, ignore, ignore - we keep clicking on it. But take a few moments to really look at what the computer is throwing at you.

Your computer is a machine, not a living being, although we all at some time or other, talk to the damn things as if they were :-) It cannot differentiate between their, there and they're. Only you can do that and make sure you say what you mean.

Their - means belonging to "He put their suitcases on the train."

There - means at a point or place "The suitcases were placed, there," he said, indicating the train.

They're - an abbreviation for they are "They're going away, that's why their suitcases were on the train."

So, a sentence could contain all of these forms i.e.

"They're going away on holiday, that's why their suitcases were placed there," he said, indicating the train.

Make sure you get the right one in the right place, don't rely on the computer to do it for you.

It's and its are another two common problems with spellchecking. The machine doesn't know which one you want to use.

Remember - it's is an abbreviation for it is. The form without an apostrophe means the possessive case of it, or belonging to.

It's smokey in here.

A statement - it is smokey

The smoke billowed its way into the room.

In this sentence - its belongs to the smoke

Look out for other words such as the and thee, not a popular word but useful to bear in mind. Also be aware of any abbreviations like BBC or JFK, these can so easily be typed incorrectly and when you spell-check you get click-happy again.

Better still, get someone to proof read your work for you. Remember, an editor has hundreds of manuscripts land on his/her desk week in, week out. Don't let yours slip through the net, all for the sake of a spelling!

Copyright © 2001 Diana Redman

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