Warning: spell check and auto-correct don’t know what you meant to say

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Whatever you’ve written and sent out into the world will reflect on YOU, not the imaginarysending your messages to the world person inside your computer. Therefore, it’s a wise idea to proofread carefully, and to check up on both auto-correct and spell check.

Sometimes these tools make corrections or alert you to something that really does need to be fixed – like my tendency to add an “l” in the middle of words and to spell “the” backwards.

Don't be too trusting...

Other times, auto-correct changes words incorrectly, and spell-check tells you a word is wrong when it’s actually correct. If you aren’t sure, just go to google and type in the word in question. You’ll quickly learn if the word you used was “real” and if it means what you intended to say.

If you follow those tools without questioning, you’re apt to “say” something you didn’t intend to say.

I was reminded of this recently when reading comments on a blog post. The comment said “Thanks for writing such an inciteful post.”

Given the subject matter of the post in question, I’m sure the commenter meant to say “insightful” rather than “inciteful.”

The two words sound just alike, but the meanings are definitely different.

Inciteful  Adjective: That which incites (rouses, stirs up or excites), or provides incitement.

We might expect to see the word incite in a phrase such as “His inciteful rhetoric led to a riot.”

Insightful  Adjective: Showing or having insight; perceptive.

I’d expect to see this used in response to a thoughtful, kind, or perhaps soothing statement.

Using the wrong word in this case could really cause confusion!

  • Were you sincere?
  • Were you being sarcastic?
  • What did you mean?

Then there are the errors that the tools usually won't correct.

Think about writing “and” when you meant “an” – or doing the opposite. In most cases it would turn the sentence to nonsense.

“I’ll be there in and hour.” “Pat an Joe will be there too.” Huh???

A similar kind of confusion happens when you drop other letters.

For instance, what if you write to a seller and ask something like “Are you planning to sell confusion is the enemy of understandingyou house in the near future?” And think what happens when you write “do” but meant “don’t.” You just wrote the opposite of what you meant.

"Wrong" words act like stop signs.

The reader will hopefully figure out what you meant, but in the meantime, the flow of your message will have been interrupted. Your message might have been streaming straight to your reader’s brain, but now he or she is stuck on the words.

The best thing that can happen when you write is that your thoughts/ideas will flow directly from your brain, through your fingertips, into words that instantly translate back into the thoughts or ideas and go directly through the reader's eyes to his or her brain.

The words become merely a delivery vehicle for the meaning. (Of course it sometimes takes a bit of effort and editing on your part to make that happen!)

The bottom line: You can't proofread too much. And even if you read what you wrote a dozen times, now and then an error will slip through. So don't beat yourself up when it happens.

 

emailing Image courtesy of fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Confusion courtesy of start miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Comments (23)

Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

This happens way too often and it’s a funny thing a lot of the time and of course, sometimes not.

May 08, 2020 11:22 PM
Marte Cliff

Yes Laura, it can be funny.

May 15, 2020 12:36 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - dam autocorrect.  The floodgates are open.  

May 09, 2020 04:38 AM
Marte Cliff

Yes they are, Michael.

May 15, 2020 12:36 PM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Good reminder, Marte.  In this case, we can't trust the automated mind. It does require more thinking. 

May 09, 2020 07:21 AM
Marte Cliff

Debb - isn't it nice to know that our minds are better than the computer's - at least sometimes.

May 15, 2020 12:37 PM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

I think the standards for spelling and grammar are declining in general.  I see errors daily in many news articles from respecable sources, so maybe it's just a sign of the times.  When you think about, most people don't notice or care.

May 09, 2020 03:15 PM
Marte Cliff

You're right about that Georgie, but I believe we should maintain our own standards anyway. WE notice when we mess-up, and a few of our clients would notice as well.

May 15, 2020 12:38 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Marte- there are times when I want to slap my auto-correct upside the head. It often tries to auto correct what it thinks is correct but not what I want. But, there are times when it catches my "oops" moments. Let's face it, you still have to proofread what you or auto-correct writes. 

I look forward to Tuesday. 

May 10, 2020 07:16 PM
Marte Cliff

Kathy - that's the bottom line. No matter how much "help" we do or don't get, we still need to proofread.

May 15, 2020 12:39 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

It happens to the best of us and happens to me if my phone automatically changes a word or two along the way

May 10, 2020 10:20 PM
Marte Cliff

Laura - I don't use a phone in that manner, but I read a lot of messages that have obviously been "corrected" by an illiterate phone.

May 15, 2020 12:40 PM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Its so easy to get tangled up in words.  And the phones are the worst for spellcheck. They have nothing to do with spell check they add whole words that make no sense to the topic!!  Great post Thank you 

May 11, 2020 01:09 AM
Marte Cliff

Debra Leisek - Kind of like the voice recognition text displayed on the TV. Sometimes it makes NO sense at all.

May 15, 2020 12:41 PM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Written words need enough of them to help the other end of the signal get the true transfer of what you intended. Mixed messages, those waste time, hurt relationships and make folks jump to the wrong conclusions. Predictive text on cells really slows down what you are hunt and pecking with the two thumbs Marte Cliff .

May 11, 2020 03:05 AM
Marte Cliff

I absolutely agree, Andrew.

May 15, 2020 12:41 PM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Your write, they shore don't.

May 11, 2020 07:09 AM
Marte Cliff

May 15, 2020 12:42 PM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Often, the notification that pops-up is terribly wrong, Marte Cliff ... it just isn't in-tune with mortgage lending terminology or "speak".  It's a good thing that the corrections/objections aren't made automatically.  Your observation regarding their use is spot on!

Gene

May 11, 2020 08:23 AM
Marte Cliff

Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi It's a good thing you can correct the corrections.

May 15, 2020 12:43 PM
Kimberly Button
Get Green Be Well - Hendersonville, NC
Designing & building healthy homes for wellness

I have had so many problems with auto correct. And sometimes, it autocorrects to a word that isn't even a word or makes no sense in the context of things. 

May 11, 2020 08:29 AM
Marte Cliff

I agree Kimberly Button - you can end up with nonsense.

May 15, 2020 12:43 PM
Joan Valverde
HomeSmart - Colorado Springs, CO
GRI,CDPE,CNE,MRP,SRES Colo Sprgs, Blk Forest, Monu

Oh Marte,  you speak, well okay type up some very good words of wisdom.  There are times, I KNOW THAT I PROOF read my text, and somewhere between me reading it, and hitting send the texting ghosts change a word or two!  YIKES!  It makes you wonder where these tyrants come from!  Have a great day.

 

May 11, 2020 09:34 AM
Marte Cliff

Joan Valverde I've had that happen a few times, too. Not with text, but with email.

May 15, 2020 12:44 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Coming back to this one to see what’s new. Are people posting a little bit less today?

May 11, 2020 09:35 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I have to agree with Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089 - sadly many people don't notice or care. Those mistakes do make me stop in my tracks! And the fact that  major news sources are allowing these slip-ups is so depressing to those of us that care.

Keep writing about it though - can't give up!

May 11, 2020 02:16 PM
Marte Cliff

I agree Margaret Goss We can't give up - or give in.

May 15, 2020 12:46 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte:

Great advice about spell check and auto-correct - they can really goof things up sometimes. I have been doing more talk-to-text and the spelling there can really be a mess. I have learned to ALWAYS read what I said in a text before sending it - I have been embarrassed on more than one occasion. It's one thing with family but quite another with clients, vendors and prospects.

Jeff

May 11, 2020 03:41 PM
Marte Cliff

Jeff Dowler, CRS Sometimes those "corrected" words can destroy the whole meaning - or render the whole thing meaningless.

May 15, 2020 12:47 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Hi Marte Cliff 

I type with 4 fingers...2 need spell check and the other 2 need constant watching

Then I deal with auto-check!!! 

May 11, 2020 04:44 PM
Marte Cliff

Stay on the lookout, Doug Dawes!

May 15, 2020 12:47 PM
Jeffrey Richman
Immediate Home Solutions - Waxhaw, NC
Creative Real Estate Specialist

Hi Marte,

There are many times when autocorrect is used and you don't even realize it's working and when you send something out, it's entirely different then what you were writing!

May 13, 2020 08:35 AM
Marte Cliff

That's right, Jeffrey Richman - you must remain vigilant!

May 15, 2020 12:48 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

It looks like I need to get into my profile (or somewhere) and check settings. I thought it was strange that no one had commented on this post beyond the first 2 or 3.

I just noticed today that yes they had! I haven't gotten any notices in more than a week. So strange.

May 15, 2020 12:51 PM
Steve Anderson

Speech-to-text only adds to the problem on this front, and it often seems like people just don't care...everyone makes mistakes, so it's okay. And I fear with younger generations, these kinds of problems will only get worse. Similar to the problems I've seen with my own kids and their handwriting. It's not common, so they don't care that their handwriting isn't very good. I've tried to correct it, but when typing in school has replaced much of the handwriting of my day, it's an uphill battle. Still drives me nuts to see people making these mistakes though...like the use of their, there, and they're.

Jun 06, 2020 12:13 PM
Ron Schrader
Elegant Business Cards - Idaho Falls, ID
High-Quality Real Estate Business Cards

Speech-to-text only adds to the problem on this front, and it often seems like people just don't care...everyone makes mistakes, so it's okay. And I fear with younger generations, these kinds of problems will only get worse. Similar to the problems I've seen with my own kids and their handwriting. It's not common, so they don't care that their handwriting isn't very good. I've tried to correct it, but when typing in school has replaced much of the handwriting of my day, it's an uphill battle. Still drives me nuts to see people making these mistakes though...like the use of their, there, and they're.

Jun 06, 2020 12:13 PM