Crouching typo, hidden error: 4 mistakes that spell-check won’t catch

From errant letters to factual inaccuracies, some miscues require human intervention.

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. 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)

“The pops concert, canon launch and fireworks show…” (cannon)

“Moral was low in that office.” (morale)

“A list of businesses that asses the additional charge…” (assess)

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