Is your spellchecker letting you down?

The preferred Australian English spelling dictionary add-ins for Microsoft Office, Windows, and Mac, are for Australians who are proud of their writing. The problem with spellcheckers is they use a "descriptive" dictionary which provides multiple ways to spell the one word. That's fine when you want to look up the meaning of a word, but when writing, a "prescriptive" dictionary providing the single preferred spelling, provides writers with the best and most consistent spelling in documents.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I decided to do a spellcheck on the NAP site after receiving an article which featured the NAPLAN testing.

I'm probably not a fan of the NAPLAN test. I simply see another level of administration where I feel other existing tests I suspect could just as easily provide sufficient information. Even though students aren't supposed to study for these tests, from what I read, time is spent preparing for the NAPLAN tests. In addition the test puts some students under pressure which need not exist. At least that's how I see it.

I checked one of the spelling tests and can understand why many students (and adults) would get the words wrong. They testing is typically for the trickier words. Isn't it interesting that we focus so much on the trickier words, which often we can work around, rather than the majority of the words we use can spelling easily.

This made me wonder if there may be spelling mistakes on the NAP site and whilst generally it is very good, yes the site does have spelling mistakes. Here's an example of one which is a fairly common spelling mistake. There were others, but not a great number.

The article which I initially received and read made a very interesting point about the written test which was about the set time to write an article. When in our lives do we have to sit and write a document at a given time, for a given time period. It simply doesn't happen outside of the school system, or at least it hasn't happened in my career. Isn't it interesting the pressure we put our children under which is totally different from the world they'll be in when they leave school.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Monday, April 13, 2015

For a bit of fun - The Australian Spelling Test.

A while ago I created a quiz which shows people something about Australian English spelling that many people don't notice. That is, there are many words which can be spelt in two or more ways. Both are correct, but one is preferred over the other based on usage.

I've found people quite enjoyed doing the quiz so I've decided to add the quiz to the Australian Dictionary site and I've now called the quiz the Australian Spelling Test. You can access the test from the menu, or go direct to the page

By the way, for those of you who think my spelling may be perfect, it isn't. Even though I know these words and have done the test many times, after returning to the test and not having done it for a while, I could only manage 9 out of 10, and it still took me three attempts to work out which word I was spelling using a secondary spelling variation.

The preferred Australian English spelling dictionary I've created has identified over two and half thousand such words (as well as errors often found in spellcheckers) and the add-ins I've created remove the secondary spelling variations for those using products such as Microsoft Office. Many people consider secondary spelling variations to be incorrect, and often they're mistaken as being American. One thing for sure, is you use the preferred spelling you'll be considered to be using the correct Australian English spelling and the spelling in your documents will be consistent.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Is the spelling business advisor or business adviser?

Spelling to me is an incredibly useful tool. Spelling often provides an insight into the quality of a businesses that are providing us with services. Often when something doesn't feel right about a business, if you check their spelling you often get hints you'd never pick up.

When I see the words business advisor across the front of an accounting practice I simply shudder. How could a professional business not take the time and effort to check out the spelling for a major part of their advertising. The use of the word advisor is now so common that it is more common than the correct spelling adviser. In time that probably means by default the incorrect spelling will become the correct spelling and to me that's a shame. It isn't the general public, but a specific group of businesses using the wrong spelling that leads us to believe it is the right spelling.

Not exactly on topic, but when I saw this very large sign on the wall of a shop in Thomastown, it did make me wonder. The accounting firm has spent a considerable amount of time and money getting a very large sign attached to the side wall of a shop which has great traffic visibility in two directions. At no time does it appear the accountant bothered to check the spelling of the word bookkeeping, which is spelt incorrectly as bookeeping. Even if they did, then they're more than happy to leave the sign up for years with the spelling error. How accurate and caring of your critical business information do you think this accountant would be when they don't even care about their own advertising?

Spelling often provides us with clues which I think are certainly worth looking for, and can often provide us with information the supplier probably wouldn't want us to know. Whilst spelling may not be the deal breaker in a final decision, for me it puts the business on the back foot and this simply makes it harder for them to get my business.

Don't let poor spelling affect your chances of getting business, a better grade for your assignments, or perhaps even that job promotion. Life can be tough so don't make it tougher than it need be. If in doubt, pick up a dictionary and verify the spelling of the word. Using the internet generally isn't a great idea as the spelling tools available are mostly overseas based and thus not the best for Australia.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When using the many low cost online options for written work, make sure you check the spelling.

I saw the following on the Fiverr site and it's a reminder that when using low cost services, to make sure the quality of your written material is up to standard.

Kelvin Eldridge
The creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor?

Yesterday I was performing some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tasks for a client for the phrase conveyancing Melbourne. Part of researching for SEO is to look for suitable words and the words lawyer and solicitor came up. I thought to myself, what's the difference? Whenever I find a word I don't know the meaning of I become curious and like to learn about the word.

I did some searching on the internet but interestingly the Macquarie dictionary provides quite good definitions.

Lawyer: noun 1. someone who is professionally qualified to practise law in any capacity (whether a judge, barrister, solicitor, or a teacher of law).

Solicitor: noun 2. a member of that branch of the legal profession whose services consist of advising clients, representing them before the lower courts and preparing cases for barristers to try in the higher courts.

Another word mystery now cleared up for me.

What do you do when you find a word you don't understand? Simply skip the word and move on, or take the opportunity to extend your knowledge?

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian spelling dictionary add-ins for Windows and Macs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A video called 38 Common Spelling and Grammar Errors I thought was worth sharing.

I watched this video and felt it contains a lot of useful information. Unfortunately it races through the information so you don't have sufficient time to absorb the tips being shared. I thought I'd share the video and then also write up the tips being shared. I also thought I'd skip the jargon being used as best I could, as many of us who haven't studied the English language at depth really don't get the jargon. Just more meaningless words to confuse us even further.

So here goes. Here's the video.

1. Lay versus Lie.

Yep. This one gives me grief all the time.

You lay down your copy of your book, but if it happened in the past you laid down your book.

I think I'll lie down and have a sleep, but if it happened in the past, I laid down and had a sleep and feel much better now.

The word lay needs an object such as the book or in the last example "Clark Kent lay down...", whereas lie appears to be more about taking an action. Yep. That's confusing so I'll still need to keep working on that one.

2. Literally.

People often say things like "I literally died when I...", but literally means it actually happened. Since they aren't dead then it didn't literally happen.

3. If your sentence has two independent thoughts you have a run on sentence. You can use a semi colon, but it is better to use a full stop and make two separate sentences.

4. Who versus that.

Who is for people and that is for non people.

5. For sell should be for sale.

6. Who versus Whom

The trick to use here is if your answer contains he or she, then it is who, and if it contains him or her use whom.

Example. Who is your favourite Spice girl? Whom do you like among the Spice girls?

OK. I don't know about you, but that one didn't help me at all. I need to do some more reading.

7. If you're using a singular noun use a singular pronoun. If you're using a plural noun use a plural pronoun.

E.g. Everyone in our office has their friends. Everyone in our office has his/her favourite episode of Duck Dynasty.

8. Catch IN the Rye. Sex AND the City.

These are a title of a book and the title of a TV series. You use the title as it was originally written.

9 Nip it in the bud. You don't nip anything in the butt.

10. I couldn't care less. You don't say "I could care less" because that means you at least care a little.

11. A lot is two words. Not alot.

12. Lose versus Loose. To lose something has one o. Loose which means not tight has two.

13. Fewer versus Less.

If you can count the objects then use fewer. If it is an uncountable quality use less.

E.g. There are fewer people in the restaurant today. I love this restaurant less than my favourite restaurant. Love is not something you can count.

14. Could of, would of, should of, should be could've, would've should've, which are contractions of the word and have.

15. For all intensive purposes should be for all intents and purposes.

16. Subjects: I, you, he, she, it we they. Objects: me, you, him, her, it us, them.

I ate ice cream where I is the subject. Henry the VIII married and decapitated me etc., where me is the object.

This doesn't totally help as there's overlap in the two lists, but you can see that if you were to use some objects as subjects and some subjects as objects in the sentences it doesn't sound right. For example it doesn't sound right to say "me ate ice cream".

17. Tip for using me or I. Remove the other noun and make sure using each alone makes sense in the sentence.

18. Anxious versus Eager.

Anxious means nervous and eager means excited.

19. Good versus Well.

Good is an adjective or noun and well is an adverb.

I'm doing well not I'm doing good.

20. If versus Whether.

If implies a condition whereas whether implies there's a choice.

21. Bring versus Take.

If it is coming towards the speaker use bring, but if it's going away from the speaker use take.

22. Historic versus Historical

Historic is something significant that happened in history, but historical is anything that happened in the past.

23. You're means you are. Your means something you possess.

24. It's is a contraction of it is, it has, whereas its is something it possesses. You may have noticed a spelling error of posesses in the video at this point.

25. There is a location, their is something they possess, and they're is a contraction of they are.

26. Who's is a contraction of who is, whereas whose indicates ownership, or of whom or which.

27. Emigrate is when you leave a country and immigrate is when you come to a country.

28. Two is the number which comes after one and too means also. To is the only one you can use as a preposition or infinitive, as in "I want to go to Disneyworld".

29. Allusion versus Illusion. Allusion comes from the word allude and illusion is a deceptive performance.

30. Bear versus bare.

A bear you see in the woods, it also means to carry or tolerate such as bear with me, and also to stay in one direction such as bear right. Bare is when you have no clothes on are are exposed. This one has me tricked in the past.

31. Elicit versus Illicit

Elicit is to draw out some information you want, whereas illicit is illegal, as in illicit drugs.

32. Led is the past tense of lead (which sounds like it should be spelt leed). Lead is the type of paint your shouldn't use.

33. Stationery versus Stationary. The trick I was taught is think of e for envelope when thinking about stationery for the office.

34. Weather versus Whether. The weather around us and whether is a choice. Whilst not mentioned, here there is a third spelling which is wether, but it is rarely used and means a castrated ram.

35. Affect versus Effect.

You can affect the outcome to produce an effect. Effect is an outcome or the result. Affect is a verb which is an action.

36. Than versus Then. Use than for comparison and then for next or later.

37. Principal versus Principle.

My headmaster told me once to think of principal as your pal. OK. I actually remembered that but didn't take too much to the idea of him being my pal.

The word principal means something of highest in importance. E.g. The principal problem being...

The word principle means a law or a rule.

Now that can be confusing because we say things like we have very strong principles and they tend to be highly important to us. We can however think of them as being the rules by which we live.

38. Accept versus Except. You have to accept this list is now complete, except that I still need to add my remaining comments.

So with much typing that's it. The 38 points raised in the video along with some notes. I hope others find this useful. For me this has been a good reminder of the subtle uses of our language. For those that studied the constructs of our language in more detail much of this will be easy. For the rest of us, it seems more like fine tuning of our language skills over time through trial and error.

Which of these words have given you trouble in the past? For me there's been a number and sometimes even though I think I know which word to use, I still have to pause and think.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Poor English is one clue the email you've received is possibly a scam.

I read this article titled, "Police urge residents to protect against cyber attacks".

I regularly advise computer users to listen to their instinct. Nearly everyone I've helped who have infected their computer say they felt something wasn't right. If you get this feeling listen to it. Nature has provided us with a great survival instinct and we should take advantage of what nature has provided.

In the article I found this paragraph relevant to readers of this blog.

Look for spelling mistakes on a business site. Pharming is a practice where cyber criminals redirect your attempt to access a site to their version of the same site. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar/english and the use of old business emblems are the giveaway. Be observant.

The problem is even the article itself contains the word "english", which should be "English". If the article you're reading has poor grammar and is written by skilled journalists, then many business sites will have poor grammar. It is a clue, but not the only clue.

The other paragraph which concerns me is the following:

Ensure your home computer/laptop/tablet/smartphone(s) has antivirus protection.

Yes. Definitely install and keep your anti-virus software up to date. However keep in mind nearly every infected computer that I've repaired (and there been hundreds over the years), have had anti-virus software installed. Anti-virus software will not catch the latest malware (there's a potential windows of 24-48 where you software doesn't know about the new malware) and do not stop many infections. Many infections are a result of the user going to a site, clicking on a link, installing free software. Even those ads you see in Google can lead you to unwanted and undesirable software.

Ultimately you're your own best defence. If it doesn't feel right STOP. Think about what you're just about to do. It may cost your hundreds. None of us are immune to being infected. I read an American police station had to pay the ransom to decrypt their data. Do make sure you have a backup of your important information off your computer.

Also to be scammed often has nothing to do with your computer. I recently had my credit card cancelled due to fraud and it had nothing to do with my computer. Another family member had their credit card cancelled due to fraud and they don't have a computer. A client was scammed simply by providing their bank customer number. I've seen the banks and telcos get tricked and they should know better. So keep in mind if the police, banks and telcos can be tricked, then if you do get tricked, don't be too hard on yourself. The crooks are very clever and do this for a living.

Kelvin Eldridge
For IT support I can be contacted on 0415 910 703.
My IT site is or www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne.