Every year, more and more people, not all of them twelve, fall into this trap. As electronic tools become more powerful, we are lulled into a false sense of security. We believe the tools are looking out for us. My word processor doesn't even wait for me to request a spell check - it corrects words as I'm typing. And the editing doesn't stop with spell checking, it also boasts a grammar checker. If only.
I use many e-tools and am not aware of a single one, or any combination of tools that can replace the human brain. All electronic tools are not created equal, but I used one of the most popular word processors for the following example. The tool uses green underlines to indicate grammar issues and red underlines to indicate spelling issues. You can see the tool has identified three problems. How many errors can you find?
The passage contains at least five errors the software didn't detect. Each of the five involves a perfectly good English word that is spelled correctly, but misused. It gets worse. Both of the "grammar" issues caught by the software also involve incorrect words, but the software doesn't know that and so mislabels the errors.
For the first grammar issue, "form which", the software offers these suggestions:
The tool offers this sage advice for "Their was":
This is an exaggerated example of one kind of error that typically goes undetected by electronic tools. There are others.
I'm not advocating banishment of these tools. They are wonderful time savers when used correctly. I'm suggesting that tools are more effective when we understand their limitations and use them appropriately. You wouldn't use a rolling pin instead of a steam roller would you?