Spelling errors, typos, mangled sentences and clichés

Muhamed Maiwada from Abuja in Nigeria writes:

I was browsing the internet when I came across ten tips for better emails. For the tenth tip it says: use a spell check and thesaurus, avoid typos and mangled sentences and avoid clichés too.

What is meant by avoid typos, mangled sentences and clichés?

Roger Woodham replies:

Typos and spelling errors

Typos are misspelt words which arise as a result of careless typing or word-processing, usually because your attention is focused on the keyboard, rather than on the screen. When you look at the screen you might then find that you have typed chck instead of check or theses instead of these. A good way of banishing typos to the past is to learn to touch-type with the keyboard covered up and your eyes permanently on the screen.

Typos as well as genuine spelling errors should all be revealed by the spell-checker on your computer so it should be easy to spot misspelt words. If you are not sure of a spelling, you should be able to try out several versions as you type until the correct one appears and the underlining disappears.

The following text contains twelve commonly misspelt words in English. See if you can find them all. It is re-printed with the errors corrected after the mangled sentences section.

  • In developping countrys nowdays proffesional people have little opertunity to develop their carriers without help from people in goverment. This is completely unacceptible and I personaly belive such practise should not be allowd.

Mangled sentences

If a physical object is mangled, it is crushed or twisted with such force that its original or true shape cannot be recognised. A mangled sentence is one that cannot be understood because the information is not arranged coherently or logically. The moral of this is always think clearly about what you need you say, plan your writing and think in terms of paragraphs. Do not make sentences too long, try to use language that you are certain of and make sure that sentences follows on from each other with good use of connectors..

Read the two texts below. In the first one, the sentences are mangled and the text is difficult to understand. In the second one I have attempted to straighten them out so that the information flows smoothly and effortlessly for the reader.

  • Nowadays travelling abroad is increasing and most of them for the reason to find jobs and work there for a period. By travelling people around the world, the people become more closer. They transferred their knowledge and skills to the new society that people going there develop faster than the rest part of the world. People in the UK we see a mixed society and it helps for that country who need that knowledge and skills.

    Nowadays travelling abroad is increasing. Many people travel abroad to try to find jobs and work abroad for a limited period of time. By travelling around the world, people become closer to each to other. They can also transfer their knowledge and skills to the new society they are working in and develop faster than they would in less developed parts of the world. In the UK we see a multicultural society and one that benefits from the knowledge and skills that people from abroad bring to it.

Misspellings corrected:

  • In developing countries nowadays, professional people have little opportunity to develop their careers without help from people in government. This is completely unacceptable and I personally believe such practice should not be allowed.

Note that the letters where errors occurred are printed in bold.


A cliché is an overworked phrase which has been used so much that it is no longer very effective or informative. Clichés are tired from overuse, although they may still be useful and serve the purpose of providing padding or filling gaps in conversation.

At the end of the day is a cliché which is often used by sports' commentators in England, meaning: this is what happens after we have considered all relevant facts.

  • At the end of the day, England must win their next two matches if they want to qualify for the World Cup finals.

Here are two more, with standard English versions given underneath:

  • I think I can honestly say that I have left no stone unturned to discover the truth.
    I can assure you that I have made every effort to discover the truth.

Note that clichés are often overworked idioms.

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