Poor spelling of 'auto-correct generation' revealed

Keyboard Two-thirds of people said they used spellcheckers

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Spellcheckers and other technology have created an "auto-correct generation" unable to spell many common words, a survey suggests.

The poll of more than 2,000 adults for learning disability charity Mencap claims a third could not spell the word "definitely".

Some two-thirds picked a wrong spelling for "necessary".

And 96% said spelling was important, but two-thirds use spellcheckers all or most of the time.

Fewer than one in 10 (9%) said they never use a spellcheck.

'False impression'

The survey was commissioned to mark Mencap's Spellathon Championships which take place this week.

Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring said: "With over two-thirds of Britons now having to rely on spellcheck, we are heading towards an auto-correct generation.

"This survey has highlighted that many Britons have a false impression about their spelling ability.

"Today's tough economic climate means that poor spelling on a CV is fatal, as it says that an individual cannot produce work to a given standard, no matter how highly qualified they might be.

"Language used by a company or person is a reflection of their attitude, capabilities and skill."

Ian McNeilly, director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said: "I think it's an easy, knee-jerk reaction - though an entirely understandable one - to blame technology for perceived declines in a whole variety of areas.

"This probably doesn't do justice to the subtleties at play.

"In saying that, if people are blindly writing things and expecting automated programs to address all of their inaccurate spellings, that's a concern - because they won't. It's the linguistic equivalent of indiscriminate sat nav users driving into canals."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Like calculators, spell checkers are fine but it is maddening to read something that doesn't make sense because it has not been proof read properly! That would highlight many a hideous slip up. It's only a useful tool not a replacement for (at least roughly) knowing how to spell the CORRECT version of the word you want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    @137 Masticate This

    Two sentences that could stand alone; but, I decided that they were relevant to each other and so used the semi colon. You should see what I do with a colon!

    But that's a style issue surely?

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.


    It's just a lack of understanding and/or an unwillingness to learn, I don't think contractions themselves cause a reduction in standards. By the way, what's with the semi colon?

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    managerial/good roles require people to have excellent communication skills, which means one must be able to speak effectively (without an accent).
    Ever witnessed an aloof overbearing legal type get whittled down to size by someone who sounds like Jimmy Greaves - someone able to think 'on their feet', assimilate information rapidly and deconstruct pretentious prattle with ease?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    131.Tio Terry

    I've seen worse. There's a trend going around at the moment for wierd contractions I've even seen some one write "hadn't've" and insist it's a word.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    The HYS spell checker is for USA English, or Zinglish as I call it

    So even the BBC doesn't use a proper checker

    customisation comes out as customization etc etc etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    It's a result of spelling being dismissed as unimportant by trendy educationalists throughout much of the last three decades. Lack of spelling skill is a real disadvantage when it comes to employment prospects, and electronic spell-checkers can't always help. They can't identify mis-spelt words which are themselves valid words (e.g. 'coarse' instead of 'course'). Bring back proper education!

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.


    Ha! Yeah that's what I meant. I spelt it correctly; I just chose the wrong word. But what of my point what do you think of that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    I notice that on HYS in general there is an increasing use of "your" when people really mean "you're".

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.


    "Of course, 'could of' grew out of the concatenation of 'could have'"

    You mean a "Contraction" right? Were you using a spell check?

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Of course, 'could of' grew out of the concatenation of 'could have' which when spoken swiftly sounds like 'could of'. So an argument could be made that a perfectly legal device in itself led to a reduction in standards?

    Could'a would'a should'a etc etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    32 Minutes ago
    Did anyone else notice the typo in:-
    "Ian McNeilly, director of the Natioanl Association for the Teaching of English"

    Yes, but I can't figure out if it's an attempt at journalistic humour, or just bad spelling...

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    "could of"

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    ...59. Tez B..."It wouldn't be so bad if people were using British English spellcheckers but most users are too dimwitted and/or lazy to change their computers' default settings from the inevitable US English preset."
    Then again, some programmes with so-called English (UK) choices for spelling get it wrong. I also wince whenever I see US writers using practise as a noun.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    118. coram-populo-2010
    "There is no spell check when I post on HYS. Am I using the wrong program?"
    Hi coram-populo-2010,

    Arguably you are... You're not using Firefox: it gives you the option to right-click and select a correction (or, to be exact, another word)!

    It beats IE, imho.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    As an employer who would receive an average of more than one handwritten application form every working day, those with poor spellings and/or bad grammar went no further. Simple as that.
    'Correct all' in spellchecker, once used by a lazy employee in an important e-mail to a prospective client changed the abbreviated name of the company to 'bum.' We didn't get the business!

  • Comment number 123.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Did anyone else notice the typo in:-
    "Ian McNeilly, director of the Natioanl Association for the Teaching of English"

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    MikvV7 -- As you know if you read the news, teachers follow the national curriculum and a welter of guidance. Some of this concerns spelling correction. "Is not checking their spelling apart of this process?" -- not necessarily all the time at every given minute: you KNOW this.

    The only repugnant way of speaking that I can think of is with a mouthful of food or by saying repugnant things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.


    Would any one like to comment on the issue I have raised? I am sure there are many English place names that fall flat of the US made OFFICE products.


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