Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Spell check can't catch all flubs

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November 12, 2013

Spellcheck often helps The Gazette, its reporters and editors. But as readers know, that computer function isn't infallible, and neither are our eyes. Often, we find too late, haste makes waste.

Here are a few sentences that combine similar words that spellcheck won't catch and that we must pay close attention to:

Don't make a statue out of a state statute. Conversely, that veterans' memorial is no statute.

The state Capitol is in our state capital of Madison. How do we remember which is right? As former colleague Stan Milam once suggested to me, the word for the building with the dome has the “o.”

Don't make a manger out of a city manager.

It's bad form to use “form” when you mean to write “from.”

Don't get brain lock and reverse the “i” and “a” for a fellow named Brian.

Here's a good principle to remember: Don't call a school principal a principle.

You can lead a horse to water, but make sure it's not contaminated with lead. In contrast, don't use the word led unless the sentence is past tense—as in “The rider led his horse to water.”

We won't put you on trial for doing so, but don't call a bike trail a trial.

And when writing about a public hearing, never, ever, leave the “l” out of the word public.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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