Tag Archives: homonyms

Errors That Might Escape Spell Check

“Errors That Might Escape Spell Check” by Joan Y. Edwards

When revising your manuscript, one of your goals is: Correct all words that are not spelled properly.

Many word processing programs have a Spell Check feature. It will find and correct most words in a manuscript. However, Spell Check won’t catch the misuse of homonyms and other English words that often confuse writers. After all the words are spelled correctly. They are not used correctly.

What is a good writer like you to do?  Use Find for each of the words below and other words you might confuse. Then correct the spelling.

A. Homonyms that fool you.

  1. Incorrect: I turned it’s pages quickly.
    Correct: I turned its pages quickly.
  2. Incorrect: They took off they’re coats.
    Correct: They took off their coats.
  3. Incorrect: Lucy is the idle of my life.
    Correct: Lucy is the idol of my life.

B. Words that don’t sound alike, but are still used incorrectly.  Lie, lay; set, sit; who, which, that; further, farther; and proceed, precede.

  1. Incorrect: I cannot walk any further.
    Correct: I cannot walk any farther.
  2. Incorrect: Lie the book on my desk.
    Correct: Lay the book on my desk.
  3. Incorrect: Precede with your plans.
    Correct: Proceed with your plans.

Here’s a fun quiz entitled, “Are You Smarter Than a Spell-Checker?” I hope you enjoy it. http://www.pongoresume.com/blogPosts/146/quiz-are-you-smarter-than-a-spell-checker-.cfm

Edit your manuscript to a “polished – as good as I can get it for now” stage. Properly formatted. Punctuation and grammar checked. Pitch written, Plot checked. Characterization embedded. When you have finished polishing your manuscript, submit it to a publisher or agent.

Thank you for reading my blog and sharing with your friends.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright 2012 © Joan Y. Edwards

Writing Errors: Commas, Misspellings, No Fatal Flaw, Pet Words

“Writing Errors: Commas, Misspellings, No Fatal Flaw, Pet Words” by Joan Y. Edwards

Here are four errors that many articles list as major errors of writers: commas, misspellings, no fatal flaw, and pet words. 

  1. Commas –  They found commas in all the wrong places or missing completely.

         We ate lunch, and went swimming.
         Jane, Susie, Todd and Mary are the best readers in the class.
         Did you know, Susie that Todd is absent today.

Here is a link to Blue Grammar Book with rules for commas and examples: 

2. Misspellings – They found word misspelled words.

a. Words that sound alike but are spelled differently (homonyms) with different meanings: their, they’re, there; it’s, its; and whose, who’s. Horror of all horrors! I found two homonym errors in one of my manuscripts. I added a third to clarify the possibility of another mistake. Here is a list homonyms, homophones, and homographs with definitions to help you choose the correct word: https://www.thoughtco.com/homonyms-homophones-and-homographs-a-b-1692660. Can you find my errors in the following three sentences?

I turned it’s pages quickly.
They took off they’re coats.
Whose at the door?

b. Words that don’t sound alike but are still used incorrectly. Your mind may  fail to recognize the need for a different word.   In the following sentences, find the errors using these words: further, farther; lie, lay; and idol, idle.

I cannot walk any further.
Lie the book on my desk.
James is the idle of my life.

3. Main Character with No Fatal Flaw Fatal flaw is the opposite of the good quality the protagonist acquires by the end of the story.

The protagonist lies all the time. During the course of the manuscript, he learns the value of truth.  Lying and telling the truth are opposites. If you know what they learned, then the opposite of that is the main character’s flaw.

If the protagonist learns to be dependable, the flaw is he is irresponsible and not dependable at all.

If the protagonist finally gets up enough nerve to stand up for himself, he gains courage. The opposite of that is fear or cowardice for his fatal flaw.

Thinking about the theme(s) of your story will help you determine the flaws of your protagonist.

4. Repeating pet words or phrases numerous times within the manuscript with no purpose for emphasis, such as: just, real, very,what’s up, what do you know,  and it’s a shame.

Use your search and find tools in your word processing software to find words you know you usually repeat.  Replace with a better word or delete it.

Here are examples of words or phrases that might be repeated:

The box is very flat. The hills are very steep. Her veil is very long.
I just don’t know what I’m going to do…repeated on page 10, 13, 19, 21, 25, and 32.
What do you know?…repeated on page 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, and 17.

Here are links to six articles about a writer’s errors. Use them if you want a thorough, intense study of possible errors. If you know a problem that has shown up in your work, ask your critique group to help you find them. The first link has hilarious errors in it. Enjoy it.

  1. Pat Holt:  Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)
  2. Amanda Patterson: The Five Most Common Problems First Time Writers Share
  3. Judy Rose, Writing English: Ten Common Writing Mistakes Your Spell Checker Won’t Find
  4. E.H. Williams, Hamilton College, Biology Department, Common Writing Mistakes

I hope these ideas help you keep going, even when you feel like giving up.

Thank you for reading my blog.

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2010-2019 Joan Y. Edwards. All rights reserved.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
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Updated October 4, 2019