Writers and editors have a lot to juggle in making prose presentable: big-picture items like accuracy, clarity, flow and structure, as well as details like grammar, spelling, punctuation and word choice.
Details matter: One wrong word—even a misplaced letter—can change the meaning of a sentence, or make it confusing. This is why editors especially need a keen eye for detail.
One of the regular features that Grammar Monkeys runs on Twitter is “When spell-check won’t help”—sentences that have a wrong word that’s still a word. It’s not flagged by spell-check, but it’s a mistake that throws the whole sentence off—or makes it unintentionally funny. We find a lot of these in copy, and now people tweet them to us as well (thanks to@grammarsnark, @madbeyond and @eatbiztutor for some of the examples below).
These errors fall into several types:
The one-letter-off typo
A single letter can make a big difference.
“The company’s head of new produce development…” (new product)
“The heaving helping of caviar…” (heaping)