Is it Good or Bad to Point Out Spelling Mistakes to Other People?

If you’re expecting a definitive YES or NO answer, you won’t get one here.
If you want to learn more about why spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes are made, and the ideal ways to tell others about their mistakes without offending them, then read on!

Reasons why some people may spell words incorrectly.

Approx. two billion people in the world speak some form of English. That’s roughly one in every four people. The two main versions are British and US English.

There are many words that are spelt differently, depending on which version of English is used. In US English, the letter S is often replaced by a Z and the letter C is swapped for an S. Words that have an “our” as part of the sentence get the letter ‘U’ deleted. There are hundreds more examples of spelling, grammar, punctuation and other differences that it’s impossible to know them all.

There are other types of English and they generally follow the spelling and grammar rules of either British or US English and they include:
•    Australian English.
•    Canadian English.
•    New Zealand English.
•    United Kingdom English.

Because English is spoken in so many different countries, numerous dialects and thick accents also add to the confusion when trying to spell words, whether it’s talking or writing.

I got the idea for this article when I came across an error on a friend and respected colleague’s website. Her name is Yuwanda Black.

I sent her this email:

Hi Yuwanda,

I know you appreciate little things that aren’t correct if told about them so I am back again to point one out.
You wrote a post on January 24th this year. I can’t copy across its heading to show you but the heading is about Niche Marketing Advice to get hundreds of prospects.

Anyway, the very first line has the word “pitching,” spelt like this – “pitchuing” when the letter U is an obvious error.

I hope that helps and am curious whether anybody else tells you these things.
I’m hard-wired into noticing errors (but I am also part human, and far from perfect).

All the best,

Laurence.

and Yuwanda replied almost immediately with this…

Thank you, Laurence. Much appreciated. Found a couple more on that page too. Fixed them all.

In answer to your question, I rarely get people notifying me about errors.
I wish more would!

Thanks again, and hope all is well. ?

Yuwanda freely admitted she had discovered several other errors while checking her site so my initial comment helped her more than I even anticipated.
She certainly wasn’t ashamed, embarrassed or even angry about being told of the mistakes. In fact, she expressed her gratitude that somebody cared enough to let her know.

I requested her opinion prior to publishing my new post and, after reading it, she said:

Wouldn’t change a thing. This gives the post “realness and authenticity.” I think readers will be able to connect more with this because it is a “human element;” something we’ve all likely experienced — or at least seen happen online — at one time or another.

Very good post, Laurence. I learned a thing or two, e.g., I didn’t know there were so many variations of English. And that’s because I’m American and we have a hard time thinking beyond ourselves and the nation that birthed us (England).
Note: Said tongue in cheek, but not really because we do tend to be arrogant that way. ?

As for your post, feel free to include our original correspondence in it. And yeah, you can identify me, or not. Doesn’t matter to me.

I always like to include the content of emails. The only reason I suggest doing it is that it lends credence and authenticity to a post. Let me know when it’s live, and I’ll reblog it for my audience. It may take a week or two, but I will.

Hope all is well,

Yuwanda.

It’s not the first time that I have advised people of errors in their websites, books, eBooks, newsletters, resumes, sales pages, articles, posts and other written material.

Some people are gracious and appreciative. However, there are also plenty who start off with the abuse and name-calling. Examples include: “You’re the Grammar Nazi.” “Smartass!” “What business is it of yours?” and numerous other replies, some with a few extra expletives I have no need to repeat.

It doesn’t matter how you tell somebody about an error, someone will challenge you and ask what qualification gives you the right to correct their English?

My reply usually goes like this:

I don’t have a college or university qualification stuck on my wall.
However, I have a wealth of natural and learned experience. I have always been an avid reader, and have enjoyed writing, editing and proofreading. 12 years ago, I decided to make this my only job and, since then, I have edited and proofread plenty of physical books, eBooks, resumes, websites, articles, blog posts and hundreds (if not thousands) of other items of written content.

I’m astonished by the negative responses I get when I advise people of their errors. I’m merely trying to help. Some people aren’t appreciative (and I could add some harsher words here but I refuse to stoop that low), even if they get told privately so they don’t lose face in front of their peers.

Now to analyse ways you can tell people they have errors that need attention.
Facebook is the logical first place to begin.

Facebook.

Current stats reveal that there are approx. 2.4 billion users in the world and 1.5 billion users are logged on each day. Regardless of your purpose, you’ll certainly come across spelling errors. This is where it gets tricky because there are a few ways to point them out.

In public. For example: you notice someone has written “elefant” instead of “elephant.” You make a comment telling them exactly what they did and what it should be. However, everybody can see the comment, some will react, may laugh, make derogatory comments and so on. How do you think the writer of that post will feel? How would YOU feel if the situation was reversed? The good news is that there are two better alternatives.

Email.  If you know the person and/or can access their email, you can tell them privately. Nobody else needs to know and that person WON’T feel bad.

Direct Messages. This is the other way you can save the other person from feeling bad. Send a message to them as a direct/personal message. They get the message and nobody else can see what you’re talking about.

Having said all this, some people will still get annoyed or upset when told they have mistakes in their material and abuse you, no matter which way you tell them.

You must remember that there are millions of people online that live in countries where English isn’t their first language. Writing becomes harder for them and if you shatter their confidence, it won’t help them at all.

All other sites.
Apart from Facebook, you can still find ways to contact site owners or the person who wrote the material you’re reading. You may subscribe to newsletters to get information, products or services. There are often mistakes made so it’s helpful to let people know of any errors you may find.

A simple email sent to that person will give you one of three results.

1.    No reply at all.
2.    An appreciative thank you response for making contact and pointing it out discretely.
3.    Someone who does NOT appreciate your “help” and has the bad manners to tell you so, often using expletives. This may happen privately but, depends on the scenario, they may do it publicly (For example: in Facebook).

The number 3 person is extremely short-sighted. You might initially have been interested in buying their products and/or services. However, if the way they responded to your message is any indication, they’re not interested in turning browsers into buyers by helping answer your questions.

I classify Yuwanda as a number 2 responder. I have let her know about errors a few times before and certainly would do so again because of her good manners and appreciation. The way a person responds to your communication will help you decide whether they deserve your assistance again.

Remember the golden rule of customer service:

If you like something, you’ll tell 10 people.
If you don’t like it, you’ll tell 100 people.

Yes…word of mouth really is that strong!

Now we live in a highly digitalised society, you must watch what you say because
every word that comes out of your mouth has the potential to help or hinder you because the world is your oyster and you never know where your next sale or email will come from.

Think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the more than 65 different social media sites that exist in many countries via the online web.

The bottom line is that if you find mistakes in online content, find the most tactful way to contact the site owner, help desk or whoever you can, to advise them of the errors. Personalise your contact method, especially if it’s through social media sites.

Writing Dear Sir is definitely unacceptable except as a last resort if you have tried all other options without success. Instead, use their first, last or both names to show that you cared enough to find out their name.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About Me
I’m an editor, proofreader and writer with more than 12 years’ experience. I have worked on a wide variety of editing/proofreading and writing jobs. I’m also an avid reader. If I see errors, I generally let people know because EVERYONE makes mistakes, including me. Why not help others if you can? Your good deed will most likely be appreciated.

NOTE: I’m Australian and this post uses Australian English so if you find any “spelling mistakes,” that might be the reason.

If you have need of my services, please have a look at my website at ghostwritingspot.com

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