I’ve got two lovely proofs of the suckiness of spellcheck today. One is this lovely bit of “If It Ain’t Broke, Hit It Harder”:
Original: “The meeting is about to begin; let’s go,” urged Judy.
Spellcheck Suggestion: “going”
Really, spellcheck? “Let’s going”?
So, let’s say I’m one of Deb’s international students. English is pissing me off anyway, with its subjunctives and gerunds and whatnot. I run spellcheck on my assignment and come up against this little gem. The sentence I wrote is absolutely correct, but I’m not 100% sure of that. So I figure, hey, this thing certainly knows better than I do. You want “going,” spellcheck? OK, then, let’s going.
Of course the beauty part is that the phrase “let’s going” IS NEVER, EVER CORRECT in English EVER. So there aren’t even little fail-safes built in to keep spellcheck from saying stuff that doesn’t even follow its own rules. Fantastic.
Here’s my second example of how helpful spellcheck is (which is to say, “not”) and there are a LOT of examples of this sort of non-advice, so I may do a separate post on it. But for now:
I have a sentence here that is correct. It’s complex, I’ll grant you, but the audience reading level for this particular project is pretty high, and the way the sentence is structured makes it easy enough to follow. I’m running spellcheck to look for glitches, and here’s the critique I get: “Too many phrases.”
One of the most frequently asked questions about hiring an editor is “Can’t I just do this myself?” Dude, if you know precisely what to do when spellcheck says something as ridiculous as “Too many phrases,” I tip my hat to you.*
*But you should still hire an editor!