A Spelling Shortcut

A lot of the typos I see occur because a writer guessed wrongly that a term was two words instead of one: line up, pick up (as in truck), home owner, and on and on.

These types of mistakes aren’t egregious or shameful by any stretch. But they still require correction. They’re still, in some cases, mistakes. And the often harmless habit of writing a one-word term as two words can sometimes go really bad (titmouse, anyone?).

So here’s a tip: Whenever you’re not sure whether a noun is one word or two, and you’re not inclined (for whatever reason) to take the time to find out, just make it a habit of typing it as one word.

That will improve the odds that spell-check can help you.  If you type skincare as one word, a good spellchecker might flag it (though mine, for some reason,  does not). But spell checker would never flag the word skin or the word care. A compound made of two words squished together is less likely to pass muster with spell-check than the two halves we already know are valid words.

It could tell you that your word needs to be split up, but it will never tell you that two words like over and priced need to be squished together.

Of course, this is just for rushed writing that doesn’t need to be perfect. If you need to meet a higher quality standard, first check the one-word form in the dictionary, where you’ll see that a pickup is a noun meaning a truck or a retrieval of a package or a person. Then also check the root word, in this case pick, where you could see that it’s often paired with up to create a slightly different meaning.

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