FAQ

Q – What is SpellCheckPlus.com?

A – SpellCheckPlus.com is a state-of-the-art tool that analyzes your text and provides valuable information about errors in written English. Unlike other online spellcheckers, Spellcheckplus.com is able to detect problems with words that sound the same (e.g.: there versus their, its versus it's , etc.), incorrect use of correct words (e.g.: never mined instead of never mind), punctuation/spacing (e.g.: with out instead of without), capitalization (e.g.: saturday instead of Saturday) and hundreds of grammatical errors, e.g.: I have went instead of I have gone. The site is particularly adept at catching commonly confused words and "slips of the pen", e.g.: pier pressure instead the correct peer pressure, road to hoe instead of the correct row to hoe, etc. The purpose of the site is not to catch every grammatical error imaginable, but rather to identify the frequent stumbling blocks of standard English. SpellCheckPlus is even able to identify a number of errors typical of second language learners, e.g.: I am student instead of I am a student.

Q – How do I use SpellCheckPlus.com?

A – Simply paste your text into the main window and hit the Check Text button. If your text contains frequent errors, these will be flagged. Move your cursor over the errors and relevant feedback will appear on the right side of the screen.

SpellCheckPlus.com is inspired by a process-writing approach to learning. Site users should approach the writing task in stages. As such, we suggest you submit a text, correct the errors, and then resubmit your work. This is important since SpellCheckPlus.com requires certain errors to be fixed before it will point out other ones. For example, if a student writes I think its to bad, only the incorrect use of to will be highlighted initially. Once this change is made, the error concerning its instead of it's will be caught. It is through a series of interactions like this that one makes greatest progress and that SpellCheckPlus.com will be most successful at identifying errors. Recent research shows that learners make better progress when they are not overwhelmed by an excessive number of errors to correct.

Note that SpellCheckPlus.com will not catch 100% of errors. It is a learning tool that is designed to improve texts, not make them flawless. Our goal is both grammar correction and grammar reflection.

Q – Why should I use SpellCheckPlus.com rather than MS Word’s grammar checker?

A – SpellCheckPlus.com has the following advantages:

  • It is free;
  • it catches thousands of commonly confused words that other spellcheckers ignore;
  • It is available online and therefore accessible from any computer (and not just in the computer lab!);
  • It follows a pedagogical approach that encourages learning;
  • It updates automatically;
  • It is extremely easy to use;
  • It won't overwhelm you with messages about sentences that are perfectly correct!
  • It targets a number of errors made by second language learners of English.

Q – How much does SpellCheckPlus cost?

A – The site is available to the general public free of charge. You can also try SpellCheckPlus Pro, which offers many advantages (e.g.: a large screen editor, no advertising, a writing portfolio, a lexical enrichment tool, pedagogical exercises, etc.). The Pro version is available for $15/year (VERY reasonable classroom rates are also available).

Q – Is it possible to write a text in another program before submitting it to SpellCheckPlus.com?

A – Of course. You may choose to either type your text directly in SpellCheckPlus.com or use a word processor (e.g.: MS Word, OpenOffice). If you type your text outside of SpellCheckPlus.com, simply copy and paste the information directly into the main window. Keep in mind that SpellCheckPlus.com does not save formatting like italics or bold, so these should be added AFTER using SpellCheckPlus.com.

Q – What is the lexical enrichment tool?

A – The lexical enrichment tool, available on SpellCheckPlus Pro, is a device that allows the user to find alternatives to common, often overused words (e.g.: nice, good, bad, happy, etc.). Note, you can view and explanatory video of SpellCheckPlus Pro here.

Q – What is the maximum number of words that can be submitted?

A – The free version of the site allows user to submit texts up to 500 words. There is no maximum in principle for SpellCheckPlus Pro. However, if your text is quite lengthy, we recommend dividing it into batches of five or six pages and submitting each of these separately. As a result, the time required to verify the text will be reduced and you also avoid running the risk of getting lost in a large document.

Q – What kind of pedagogical experience do the SpellCheckPlus.com creators have?

A – The site’s creators, Dr. T. Nadasdi and Dr. S. Sinclair, have extensive experience in language instruction, linguistics and humanities computing. You may obtain information about the creators by visiting their respective websites :

Q – How often is SpellCheckPlus.com updated?

A – Spellcheckplus.com improves on a daily basis! New errors are found and targeted every day.

Q – What kinds of errors are identified?

A – The errors identified fall into three categories :

  • misspelled words (e.g.: “freind” );
  • structures to be verified (e.g.: “he is home less”)
  • structures to be corrected (e.g.: “they’re house”)

Misspelled words could either be words spelled incorrectly or simply typing errors. In such a case, SpellCheckPlus.com will display a list of valid words from which to choose. Structures to be verified (flagged in yellow) are potential errors. The sequence of letters/words is usually ungrammatical, though acceptable in some contexts. With respect to structures requiring correction (flagged in red), they are clearly mistakes that need to be fixed.

Q – What types of errors are NOT identified?

A – It is important to keep in mind that errors are the result of a number of combinations and factors. Since SpellCheckPlus.com identifies errors based on pre-determined rules resulting from errors found in previous submissions, it cannot flag a one-time error. For a rule to be created, an error must have been made more than once and by more than one user. Also, SpellCheckPlus.com cannot evaluate the semantic acceptability of submitted texts. If a sentence comes across as bizarre and completely incomprehensible, but the syntax (grammar) is fine, SpellCheckPlus.com will not suggest any corrections. Take the following sentence :

The bananas eat the gorilla

Although very sophisticated, SpellCheckPlus.com is incapable of understanding what is written. As such, it will not flag anything in this sentence. However, if one writes, “the bananas eats the gorilla”, SpellCheckPlus.com will identify the grammatical error on the verb. Note also that if you invent a sentence that is unlikely to occur, e.g. I knead ewe, it probably won't be caught since we are too busy writing rules for mistakes people actually make!.

Q – Does SpellCheckPlus.com correct errors automatically?

A – Not at all. The main objective of SpellCheckPlus.com is to assist users in correcting their errors so that they learn from the process. Unlike other grammar checking software applications which correct mistakes without user involvement, SpellCheckPlus.com flags errors and suggests how to rectify the problem. In this way, the user is responsible for making the necessary correction(s) and will likely learn from this involvement.

Q – How can SpellCheckPlus.com be accessed?

A – SpellCheckPlus.com is available online 24/7 at www.spellcheckplus.com. Provided they have a computer and an Internet connection, users can access SpellCheckPlus.com no matter if they’re in Japan, France, Argentina, Nova Scotia or New York.

Q – Is there a stand alone version of SpellCheckPlus.com for personal computers?

A – Not at present, though we hope to provide this in the future.

Q – Is an advanced level of English required to be able to use SpellCheckPlus.com?

A – No. SpellCheckPlus.com has been designed for both the novice and the expert.

Q – Can SpellCheckPlus.com also check languages other than English?

A – No. SpellCheckPlus.com can only check texts that have been written in English. However, there is a great French grammar checker available at BonPatron.com. and one for Spanish at SpanishChecker.com.

Q – Can SpellCheckPlus.com users suggest a new rule?

A – Yes, your comments are always welcome and appreciated! If you are in the habit of making an error on a regular basis, or if you believe that the error in question is likely to be made by others, we will gladly study your recommendation by performing the necessary research. Following that, if we decide that the error may indeed be problematic for others, we will then create a rule so it will be flagged for other users.

Q – Is it possible to arrange to have SpellCheckPlus.com presented at a pedagogical conference?

A – It is our wish to promote SpellCheckPlus.com in all spheres related to the teaching of English. If you are in the process of organizing a colloquium, conference, meeting, etc., and would like to have SpellCheckPlus.com presented to your colleagues or friends, do not hesitate to contact us via email.

Q – Are submitted texts saved on a server?

A – Yes. A message to this effect is displayed on the SpellCheckPlus.com home page. Texts are submitted anonymously, provided the user has removed his or her personal information (name, course, university). Even if this information appears in the user’s text, we will not attempt to contact him/her. All texts submitted will be used for the exclusive purpose of academic research. The Pro version of the site allows users to work in private mode, which means that texts are only saved if they request this (for subsequent retrieval).

Q – Why are there advertisements on SpellCheckPlus.com?

A – We use advertisements to support the project, e.g.: pay for the server, hire assistants, etc. The Pro version contains no advertising.

Q – Is a text 100% correct if no corrective feedback is provided?

A – No. It is entirely possible that a comment-free text contains errors. This happen if: a) the error does not occur in our database of texts; b) the grammar is acceptable, though incomprehensible; c) the error is extremely rare; d) the complexity of the error is greater than the sophistication of SpellCheckPlus.com! As a general principle, the greater the distance between elements involved in an error, the less likely it is that the error will be flagged.

Q – What is the summary of errors at the bottom of the page?

A – The summary of errors, available only with the Pro version, is a categorized list of all errors found in the submitted text. Be it spelling mistakes or agreement and conjugation problems, the errors will be placed into relevant categories so that the user may see what aspects of the English language are the most problematic.

Q – Can a submitted text be saved and corrected at a future time?

A – This option is available for Pro subscribers. However if you are using the free version and wish to save your work, please do so in a separate word processing program (e.g.: MS Word or OpenOffice).

Q – Spellcheckplus.com has flagged a word as being misspelled when it is correct.

A – The dictionary used for identifying spelling errors is a database of current English words. If you have typed a word that has been flagged as incorrect but the word is in fact valid in English, please make a request via the contact link to have this word added to our database. We will then perform all the necessary research to determine the legitimacy of the word and, if need be, add it to the dictionary.