What Impression Do Your Spelling Mistakes Make?

Editing and Writing

What Impression Do Your Spelling Mistakes Make?

Does it even matter, really, if your spelling isn’t quite as perfect as it might be? After all, spelling on the internet is known to be a bit…fluid. Standards have relaxed a bit, so a few spelling mistakes or the odd word mixup or typo don’t matter much to people any more. Do they?

What Spelling Mistakes Say About You

Despite the proliferation of texting language and even LOLcat language, spelling still really matters to people. Have a look at this joking post, from the Happy Place website: How to keep the grammatically challenged off the internet. It’s a funny thought, that people should have to pass spelling tests as a sort of “CAPTCHA” that determines whether they should be allowed access to the internet.

But if you stop to think a moment, you’ll realize why people are making this joke about spelling mistakes and internet access in the first place. It’s because the inability to spell is rampant among internet denizens. You only have to read the comments following any news story to realize that some people’s spelling is so bad that their communication is almost incoherent.

That alone should make you pause and rethink the assumption that spelling doesn’t matter. If you can’t understand a simple, one-paragraph comment someone makes in response to a news story, would you be able to understand them if they wrote you a business letter? Do people understand your business letters or other communication?

What People’s Response Says About Them

It’s funny to think of a spelling test to access the internet, and it’s rather sad that so many people spell so badly. But there’s even more going on with this joke, and that is that so many people laugh so knowingly about it. The very existence of the joke itself shows that people do not accept bad spelling as “the new normal,” no matter how common it is.

If you think that spelling has become less important and people have just “gotten used” to the spelling mistakes now proliferating because of the internet — think again. The joke illustrates the negative reaction of a great many people to all these errors. In fact, it’s the very abundance of spelling errors that makes people long for a test that would eliminate them, allowing only those who can really spell and communicate to participate in internet communication.

What to Do?

Do you still think your own communication and “the occasional typo” don’t matter? Have another look at that post with the “CAPTCHA” spelling tests. Do you know the difference between they’re, there, and their? Are you perfect in your use of then and than?

If you’re not sure your writing is on as good a footing as it should be, and are worried about spelling mistakes you might not even know you’re making, there’s hope for improvement. You can start cleaning up your writing step by step. First, perfect your use of the apostrophe by downloading my free primer, That Darned Apostrophe! And soon I’ll have a more extensive ebook available to help you remember when to use they’re and their, and how to make all your writing clearer to your readers.