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Watch your SPELLING & GRAMMAR

Posted: Friday, 8 January 2010
In the English language, these are the two things that people notice first! Even before the overwhelming atmosphere of the words sink into a greater meaning in our minds, we will be distracted by spelling and gramatical errors because they upset the
In many cases our brains are good enough to skip over minor errors in language, and we can amazingly fill-in-the-gaps automatically. This works great, 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time, we miss the originally-intended meaning of the words, perhaps because our vocabulary isn't as good as it could be, or the writer just wrote things a bit wrong.

Now, we have to decide why the writer may have got it wrong (Note that it's NOT "may of got it wrong." - this is another common grammar problem).

Typos (Typographical Errors) are the most prevalent of language issues, and are largely accidental. Modern wordprocessors have spelling and grammar checkers to help you with this - so why not USE THEM? The alternative is of course, a trusty old dictionary.

I have noticed that sometimes when I am handwriting, I will sometimes write the word "you" when I really meant "your" - strangely I leave off the "R" when I am writing too fast. I've met others who do this same thing - but we all concur that we notice the word is wrong immediately upon proofreading, and make sure we correct it. The same people seem to always confuse the terms "left" and "right", opting for some body language and the words "this way" or "that way" lol :)

Lack of accurate literary knowledge is another common problem with language. How many times have you seen people use the word "there" when they really mean "their"? Then there's the classic one of all - when "your" is used in place of "you're"!!! Some people are highly annoyed by this apparent lack of good English language skills, and others just don't care. The people who do it are either applying some form of short-hand to their writing (or their brain is doing so automatically), or they just have no idea that the word is blatently wrong in that context. A spellchecker can't help you with this problem - and you can't blame the wordprocessor when things like this get into final copy!

Complacency is a killer - you should really discuss language where it's wrong, as well as where it's right. However, most people will take criticism of their language skills directly to heart - like you're telling them they're stupid or something - oh please! If they had just listened in English class, maybe they'd have the right to be upset about such criticism. Even then there is no excuse for refusing to learn new things about anything, not just language!

Public Education in Australia in the past has really failed at teaching kids to treat their dictionary like a bible for how to use language properly. Once leaving school, more than half of all people never look at a dictionary again throughout their whole entire lives! Sorry, but that's just a pathetically SAD situation for the human race at large! How can we expect to further evolve when there are so many lazy people around, arguably dragging us ALL down?

The problem is not curriculum. I myself have made it through a public education with an excellent handle on the English language, but of course I'm still no professor of English Literature, and most probably never will be!!! I still make many mistakes in my language, just as anyone does. It's all about the opportunities I take to correct my apparent and evident language errors, and attempts I make to prevent the same error occurring in the future that really matter. If you think like this too, that's what sets you apart from most of the apathetic public. Most people just won't do that, and I am at a complete loss to explain why. The best thing you can learn is HOW TO LEARN - it will set you up for life. Though, yet again, people just don't seem to grasp the value in learning about things other than what is needed for them to do their job and make money.

Okay, so enough generalising (note, this is the correct English spelling of "generalising" - if you are North American, simply replace the "s" with a "z" to make it correct for the language conventions established in your region).

I am currently in my 30's, received A's for English at high school, and I still refer to the Dictionary - or rather, dictionary.com - on a regular basis. Do you? If you think that you don't need to, then you must not have studied English literature at university - if you didn't... get yourself a dictionary if you don't have one already, and USE IT REGULARLY!

Test your vocabulary!


See if you know the meanings of the following words and if you're unsure, check your dictionary. Why not assume you are wrong, no matter how certain you are that you're right? Look up these words anyway, and see how accurate you really are!


  • apathy
  • auriform
  • citified
  • esteem
  • fortitude
  • impel
  • jubilant
  • malevolence
  • obsolescent
  • octant
  • profluent
  • quite
  • rapt
  • shoal
  • there
  • their
  • they're
  • very

How many did you get right?


0 - 2 : OH GOODNESS ME.
Unless you are still in Primary/Elementary School, you may need to go back there!!

3 - 6 : AVERAGE.
You probably understand English sufficiently to get through life. You may have no interest in learning new words to enrich your use of language. Maybe you're afraid your friends will think you're a "FAT HEAD".

6 - 9 : ABOVE AVERAGE.
You can probably read and understand most literature, even if the text is full of jargon, and make highly-accurate guesses as to the meanings of words you don't know.

9 - 12 : SMARTY PANTS.
You probably annoy most people with your big-words! Good on ya! Cheers *clinck* :)

12 - 15 : WORDSMITH.
You're probably awesome at completing word-puzzles and crosswords. Highly commendable!

ALL 16 : GENIUS.
Unless you already are an English Literature Professor, please consider a career change - we need more people like you teaching us how to use our language properly!

Praise the good book... of words!


Your Dictionary is a book worth reading every now and then. Learn some new words and use them!

Alicia Silverstone's character "Cher", in the film "Clueless", advises the new girl at school, that this is one of many ways to improve your thinking... "I hope not sporadically" lol :)

The inspiration for this article was derived from a single sentence from an advertisement for the David Jones department store in Sydney. The advertisement was posted in the year 1899, and clearly shows how our language-usage has evolved over the past century, to be generally more simple and succinct.

"A visit of inspection will be esteemed a favour." - quoted from the David Jones website.


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