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Is Spelling Important?

We're often asked this question so when I saw this article on the BBC News, it caught my attention. The author, Lennox Morrison, wrote an insightful piece about how we spend so much of our time on computers or hand-held devices, we may develop the attitude that short-cuts and auto-correct will get us through. Spelling doesn't really matter—at least that's what we may tell ourselves. Here's where reality may come as a shock. Morrison tells us that the online dating site Match.com found that 39% of over 5500 American singles surveyed said that they judged the suitability of candidates by their grasp of grammar. In fact they ranked it as more important than a person's smile, dress sense or even the state of their teeth. Research shows that as soon as people spot a spelling error on a website, they will often leave it because the error sends a negative message about the people who wrote it. In short, a good portion of our image is judged by correct writing and spelling. Professor Roslyn Petelin (University of Queensland, Australia) says, "Nothing can make you lose credibility more quickly and seem uneducated than a spelling mistake, and that includes apostrophes."

In the world of work, employers are very concerned about the writing ability of job-seekers. Just adding a disclaimer such as "please excuse any typos" won't get you off the hook. The harsh reality is that people will judge you on your ability to speak, write and spell correctly. So if the cover letter to your job application contains a misspelled word, you just made the employer's job easier—it's one less application to look at because it's going straight into the bin.

Read the article here: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170807-the-true-importance-of-good-spelling

August 10, 2017



Yes, spelling is a big deal.

And as far as grammar is concerned, I've noticed it's often the native speakers who make the most obvious grammar mistakes.


English speakers may not realise many things about this because they don't have accented letters. But it's a much more serious problem for example in Polish, where most people don't use diacritics when writing on the internet at all. I've almost never seen something like this in French, for example, even in the most casual comments on Youtube. Do French tend to write without accents on sites like Facebook?

BTW I find it quite funny when BBC make articles about the importance of proper spelling, respecting the language etc. etc., while at the same time in all of their articles, they have the standard of not using any accents in foreign names. While I can understand (but definitely not support) advertising forms like "fiancee" or "nee" as anglicised words, I think publishing influential articles with things like "Erdogan", "Turkce", "Walesa", "Republique francaise", "Muller", "Dail Eireann" etc. inside is extremely unprofessional and condemnable.


What purpose do diacritics actually serve in many languages? Languages without diacritics often still have different é and è sounds. It's mostly just a gimmick to add a diacritic, one that isn't even used in a regular - predictable way in at least some languages.

When reading French the diacritics might help a little, but most of the time you still don't need them in order to guess how to pronounce a new word.


It's the same thing as whether or not you should use proper spelling or proper grammar. Why should you do it? If you write with awful grammar and misspell half of the words all time, everyone will still understand you, so why bother? The diacritics are an integral part of these languages. Using them is the same as using proper spelling. Also I could the same thing with anything else: Why should I even use cotninuous/perfect tenses in English if my native language doesn't have them? Why add -s in the third person singular? He have or she make are quite all right. Why should I conjugate verbs? Everyone will still understand me if I speak with person + infinitive. Why should I distinguish between th and f/s/t, between long i and short i or between all the other long/short vowels in English? Probably over 90% of people who learned English in Poland have never thought of these differences, because everyone will still understand them. Why even try to use proper English?


Diacritics usually modify the pronunciation of a letter, it's often as if it was actually a completely different letter. So basically what you are asking is similar to asking why we have both a "d" and a "t" or an "l" and an "r" in the English language.

ひ、び、ぴ are pronounced hi[çi], bi [bi], pi[pi] in Japanese for exemple.
In French or in Spanish the accents can also completely modify the meaning of a world and the way it is pronounced.


Languages without diacritics still have different sounds and even languages with diacritics still have equal letters that get pronounced differently in different words.


Yes, sometimes they have either additional letters to make up for the non existing diacritics or non intuitive pronunciation rules (like in English or in French). And some languages use more sounds than others, the point is that a letter with or without a diacritic is like two different letters.
In Japanese there is no distinction between the English 'r' and 'l' for example, so a Japanese may ask you why you need both letters.

But yeah, in theory I'm sure we could build a language with less sounds, or less letters than any other existing language. I'm not sure it would serve any purpose though.


Thanks for bring up this topic, n6zs; the article was interesting to read!


It's funny that you are posting this a few hours after I wrote a comment, which was downvoted into oblivion, recommending to avoid using text language for the same reasons. Especially when as a non-native speaker you can't always assess how it is perceived.


U don't says ..... Kidding. I know this is a real issue. Not only for the youth but for everyone that relies on computers/ smart phones and it is because we all get out of the habit of relying on our own memory. I wonder in 30+ years from now what the impact on the brain and its memory retention will show? Thanks for sharing this piece.


I think that you should value what you do, and the way you express it. Whether it is orally or in writing. A poorly written resume may tell the interviewer that the applicant doesn't value the job itself. The applicant may have all the MBAs, and Phds in the world, but the lack of writing skills may be seen as lack of seriousness and commitment, to a given job, from the applicant, and it may also be seen as having poor communication skills. Again value what you do and how you express it.


Thank god spell check was invented i don't know what i would do without it there are some words that i just cant remember how to spell like the word thought.


Yes, but you cannot rely on a spell checker because their, they're, and there are all real words and the spell checker will gloss right over them if you use them incorrectly.


Yes but i have figured out which are the right ons after a few years


"right ons"? I see what you did there ;)


Obviously, Spell Check wasn't working for you here. :-)



as more important that a person's smile



Yes, spelling is very important in every case.

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