Entries Tagged as 'Spelling'

Plurals – The Good, The Bad, and the Puzzling

You might have noticed that I’ve been writing a series on Puzzling Plurals.  Here are links to all of those posts in one convenient place for you, organized by topic:


Spelling Incorrectly Hurts Online Sales

If you have hired, or if you are, a content manager or editor whose native language is not English, please read this report from Search Engine Watch.  The report spells out how misspellings can hurt online sales, stating that it’s not important if the author isn’t concerned with the spelling.  What really matters is the website visitor’s opinion.  Specifically alarming is is the fact that your visitors will equate good spelling and grammar with legitimacy.

Accurate spelling and good grammar are equated with legitimacy, if not consciously then subconsciously. Some of us may be more aware of this sentiment when it is expressed in the negative: Bad spelling and bad grammar are cause for suspicion. For example, what’s the first clue a piece of email from a stranger is a scam? Many people would say it’s the bad spelling and grammar.

The article is also helpful by providing tips for avoiding such costly mistakes.

  1. Don’t rely on spell checkers. The above heading passes a spell check with flying colors. Spell checkers can be a big help, especially those that flag errors as you type, but they just don’t have the human intelligence required to know which words you should be using.
  2. Use multiple human editors. I don’t know any serious writers who believe they can reliably copy edit their own work. As the writer you tend to see what you think you wrote, not what characters ended up on the page. In a pinch, “multiple human editors” can mean the person writing the copy and one other person, but three sets of eyes are better than two.
  3. Make sure your graphics people use the spellchecker in Photoshop for any images that include words. They need to use it before rasterizing the text layer. Editing typos in flattened image files is a real pain so check before you save to JPEG, GIF, or PNG.

If you are an ESL student, you should know what your instructors’ goals are when grading.  Some might focus more on content rather than on accuracy.  If  your instructor looks more at content and less on grammatical accuracy, ask them what areas you can improve.  There is always room for improvement whether it is working on native English phrasing, choosing the right diction to present the intended meaning, or using the most appropriate verb tense.

Pesky Apostrophes: Irregular Plural Nouns

Irregular plural nouns break the rules when it comes to using apostrophes.

For regular plural nouns, the apostrophe goes after the -s.  An example would be:

I don’t like that dining room set because the chairs’ legs are iron.

But irregular plurals will rarely have an -s to indicate more than one, such as in the word people, children, men, and women.  In this case, since there is no –s on the word, add the apostrophe as you would on a singular verb, but keep in mind that they are still plural.

The People’s Court (the court belongs to all the people)

The Children’s Room (the room belongs to more than one child)

The Men’s Section (the section has clothes for men)

The Women’s Department (the department has items for women)

Sometimes you will see Ladies’ Department.  That is correct, too.  The word lady is not irregular.