So I finally remembered I had this thing, and I reread my third post – and corrected two spelling errors.  Exhaustion and carelessness are no doubt at fault.  Mostly carelessness.

Spelling is a tricky one.  We have all these wonderful programs to check it for us: most browsers have built-in spellcheckers, as do most text editors.  But these programs are stupid.  People are smart.  The program doesn’t know when you use “wont” what you really mean is “won’t” – both are words in English, correctly spelled.  But they don’t mean anything close to the same thing, and they’re not even the same part of speech.  Sometimes the grammar check will catch that, but very rarely.

Instead of relying on these programs for all your error-checking, make sure you reread what you post – and reread it out loud – because that’s one of the fastest, easiest ways to catch embarrassing mistakes of omission or word choice.  If something sounds wrong, it probably is wrong – if it looks wrong, why did you write it in the first place?

This is much harder, of course, for non-native English speakers.  Which is why reading and listening to media of the language you’re trying to write is such a common suggestion for improving vocabulary.  It also helps you improve grammar, giving you a feel for the language.

Be wary of some media, though.  Songs are not known for good grammar, and poems use much more flexible rules.  Listen and read the kind of thing you want to produce: a lawyer should read legal briefs and legal commentary, a sports journalist should read sports blogs.  This is sound advice for anyone, native English speaker or otherwise.

In summary: consume the media you want to create, and read out loud to check your work.  Reading aloud forces you to concentrate more on the words, whereas reading silently allows you to skim over everything quickly and miss glaring errors.

Advertisements