WORD COURT ARCHIVES

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March 25th, 2009

Proofreading quiz answer key

by Barbara Wallraff


Here's the quiz from two weeks ago with the 45 misused words underlined. Notes about some of the words appear in brackets.


The subject of this quiz is spelling errors of a particulate [← should be “particular”] kind. The wards are all correctly spilled – but in the context wear they appear, they’re the wrong words. Some sound like the world the writer mint. Others are a letter or too different from the word intended and may or may not sound vary different when said allowed; they’re typos that are easy to make. Still bothers [← lots of readers didn’t get this one; “bothers” should be “others”] result from misunderstanding what the correct word is or where it comes from. (I’ll admit I’ve taken libertines with the eras I’ve made hear. Some of them are just plane silly. No one would make them accept on porpoise!)

Because these kinds of mistakes involve reel words, they ten to make the writer look especially hair-brained [← the standard version is “hare-brained”: having a brain like a rabbit’s]. The meaning of the word the person has actually written pops into the mine of the reader, and the metal picture that results is bound to illicit [← should be “elicit”] a laugh.

Someday [← a few readers wondered if this should have been “some day” – a good thing to wonder about, but not here it shouldn’t be] computer spell-checkers may be able to catch must of these mistakes, thought they’ll need to take a hole new approach. Four instance, the word “whale” hardly ever appears together with “grain” – but “whole” often does. So a program with axes [← should be “access”] that information might suggest changing “whale grain” [← “whale” in this paragraph is an example of the kind of word that can come out wrong, but it can’t be considered a misuse; if we “correct” it to “whole,” what’s being said will stop making sense] to “whole grain.” (You night think “whale grain” is a ridiculous, over-the-top example, but I insure [← should be “assure”] you there are numerous instants [← should be “instances”] of it on the Web.)

We’d butter not wait for commuters to salve our selling problems. If we do, we’re libel [← should be “liable”] to make allot [← should be “a lot”] of mistakes in the meantime. For the tine being, if we want our writing to be above approach, [< should be “reproach”] we’ll have to relay on ourselves. As I type this, I halve the spell-checker turned on, and it sees noting amiss with my text. I hop you see the misused words. Again, to enter the contest, just tell me how many misused words they’re [← should be “there”] are. I look foreword to earring from you!





© Copyright 2003 by Barbara Wallraff. Reprints require prior permission. All rights reserved.

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