Why are you writing the wrong word?


I don’t know any other bloggers at ChicagoNow, but I don’t have an editor. Since I don’t want to force anyone to proofread, my typing errors, unclear thinking, and grammatical errors are exposed to the giggles of readers. Sometimes I reread a post from weeks ago and see a mistake.

I made a mistake last Monday that I was particularly embarrassed about because it was in a post with grammar advice. I called a conjunction a contraction – not once, but three times. In the same post I also discussed contractions (correctly), but didn’t realize that I had used the same word for both conjunctions and contractions. I also missed the fact that the grammar guides I was consulting use the word conjunction correctly, of course.

I was grateful to reader barnes8934 for pointing out the mistake and allowing me to correct it. I wish I had followed my instincts and asked an editor friend to see the piece before it was published.

I know that when I speak, I don’t always make sense – a questioning look at the listeners’ faces tells me. These occurrences didn’t bother me much, but spelling the wrong word several times and not realizing it when reading it again is worrying. Not just because I made a living as an editor, but also because a problem with word usage is an early sign of dementia. Maybe I’m making too big a slip up, but if you’re an aging person who is worried about dementia (and who isn’t?) You will understand.

It is dubious consolation that other people have made similar mistakes. “I wanted to write ‘closed’. I thought of that word and said it along with the phrase in my head, but instead I wrote ‘clothes,’ said a contributor in an online linguistics discussion. “That happens to me more and more often as I get older, so it interests me too,” another person intervenes.

One of the discussants explained that the brain might choose a phonetically similar wrong word because consciousness and output are separate processes and consciousness “may overlook that the output was distracted by a similarity and was tangent”. Conjunction and contraction are the same except for their four-letter middle syllables.

The discussion focused more on what the phenomenon is called – no agreement – as if it was cause for concern and if something could be done about it.

A freelance blog in the Washington post not only why such errors occur, but also whether they can be prevented. “I know the rules for the use and spelling of these words, and I am sure that most of those who make these mistakes know them too,” wrote author Andrew Heisel, a professional writer. “What I really wanted to know is why we make these slip-ups in the first place.”

When we type, explains University of Wisconsin cognitive psychologist Maryellen MacDonald, the brain pays attention to pronunciation because it is often a useful spelling tool. “It’s not that [people] don’t know the difference between ‘are’ and ‘our’; it is so that the pronunciation of ‘our’ in the mind activates the spelling ‘our’, but also ‘are’. ”

Another cognitive psychologist, Tom Stafford of the University of Sheffield, told Heisel that habit creates mistakes. For example, we are used to entering the preposition to after walking (“I’m going to the supermarket”).

“Of course, people can and should proofread (an exercise that also makes the brain difficult), but we can never completely contain these slip-ups,” Heisel wrote. “But when to be human to be wrong, it also seems to wish you weren’t.” He concluded by asking people to blame themselves and others less for these cognitive errors.

After all, I got a blog post from my embarrassing mistake.



It seems like we heard from people waiting in line for hours in front of driver services in Illinois not that long ago to get REAL IDs. As you know, REAL IDs are required to fly and enter some federal facilities. The deadline was extended to May 3, 2023, but with my driver’s license being extended soon, I thought I would get mine now.

With long waits in mind, on Tuesday I took a paperback to the Thompson Center, the shuttle service in downtown Chicago. Surprise! There were no lines, no waiting, and I was out in half an hour.

Also pleasant, for the first time since my late teens I have no glasses restriction on my driver’s license. Cataract surgery improved my eyesight to almost 20/20. It’s nice to see a profit in the senior years.

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