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Grammar vs. Spelling – What’s the Difference?

Grammar vs. Spelling – What’s the Difference?

Grammar and spelling can sometimes be confused with each other. However, they are two different concepts. Some people believe that spelling is the correct spelling of a word, but grammar has to do with how you use sentences (i.e., run-on sentences versus comma splices).

Others believe that spelling is based on phonetics; for example, “Is it bare or bear? Is your bear big enough?” However, this has nothing to do with correct spelling: spell checkers will not catch this mistake (and hence no one will know unless they ask you), and if asked about it in an essay exam, the answer would be “It’s spelled correctly.” So spelling is not always correct spelling.

What is Spelling?

If spelling is based on phonetics, then spelling is the correct sound for each letter in a word. For example, c-a-t has three sounds. The “c” makes one sound; the “a” makes another sound, and the “t” makes another sound. Therefore, this would be spelled correctly according to phonetics. 

Another spelling of cat would be k-a-t because this also has three sounds: the “k” makes one sound; the “a” makes another sound, and the “t” makes another sound. Thus, according to spelling, k-a-t would be spelled correctly too because it has three sounds in it as well (the same number of sounds as c-a-t).

However, if the spelling is based on phonetics, then spelling cannot be wrong because spelling correctly reflects how something should be pronounced. The only way spelling can be incorrect is when it does not reflect how something should be pronounced. 

For example, spell checkers will catch misspelled words that are not pronounced correctly (i.e., “He went to that restrant last night”), but they will not catch misspelled words that are incorrectly spelled yet are pronounced correctly (i.e., “He went to that restrant last night”). Thus, either spelling, c-a-t or k-a-t is correct because they are pronounced the same.

All of this information together—spelling = phonetics; spelling cannot be incorrect—implies that spelling has nothing to do with grammar. A spelling mistake can change the meaning of a word (i.e., infer/imply) while there is no way to use spelling for grammar (i.e., run-on sentences versus comma splices).

What is Grammar?

If spelling reflects how something should be pronounced, then it follows that grammar reflects how you use words in a sentence; if spelling does not reflect how something should be pronounced.

Grammar is how sentences are structured. For example, “Is your bear big enough?” is a comma splice because there are two main clauses (the bear is big and the bear is big enough) that should be separated by commas or semicolons (“Is your bear big enough?; The bear looks sad”). Run-on sentences are when there are multiple main clauses with no punctuation between them (i.e., “The stars shone through the window I am looking at the stars again”).

This separates thoughts into complete ideas rather than having a vague idea followed by another incomplete idea. For example, “Writing is difficult” and “This essay is spelling incorrect.” 

Both of these thoughts are incomplete on their own; the first thought needs to end with something like “and makes me want to do anything but write,” and the second sentence needs commas after spelling and incorrect (i.e., “This essay is spelling, incorrect”).

What does it all mean?

Grammar has to do with how sentences are structured; spelling reflects correct spelling by phonetics. Thus, spelling errors will not affect grammar or meaning, while there are multiple ways you can use spelling for grammar.

You could have a spelling mistake that doesn’t matter because it’s just a spelling mistake, or you could have an error that changes the meaning of a word, like infer/imply. Spelling is spelling; spelling mistakes don’t matter for grammar or spelling (i.e., it’s just spelling), and spelling cannot be used for grammar (i.e., spelling cannot be used to determine run-on sentences versus comma splices).

If you’re unsure if something is correct grammar, ask yourself: Can I take this piece out and still make sense? If so, then it’s probably correct grammar.

Tools To Help Check Grammar and

My favorite spell-checking tool is Grammarly. Grammarly works to check both spelling and grammar.

Here’s how it works:

After you’ve written something, you click on the spelling and grammar button. Once there, Grammarly will check what you’ve written to tell you if its spelling or grammar is incorrect.

The way spelling works is like any other spelling program; it checks to see if what you wrote is correct. 

However, Grammarly takes that a step further by checking for more than just spelling mistakes. For example, one of the ways spelling can be wrong is when homonyms are mixed up (i.e., spelling think as a “thing”). What makes Grammarly different from other spellchecking software is that it also looks at the structure of verbs and nouns in sentences (does this make?).

Checking grammar through this program works similarly to spelling. Grammarly checks for grammar mistakes like comma splices (no commas separating two main clauses) or preposition errors (i.e., “Where are you at?”).

Grammarly is my favorite spelling and grammar checking tool because it not only tells me if I’ve spelled something correctly, but it also looks how the words in a sentence should be used (should this be “where” or “we’re”). 

I especially love using Grammarly when I’m right about posting something on social media because I know that spelling will be correct and what I wrote won’t have any weird grammatical errors.

It’s free! You can try out Grammarly by signing up here.

How do spelling mistakes affect grammar?

Spelling mistakes won’t affect grammar or meaning, while spelling can be used for grammar. Spelling cannot determine run-on sentences versus comma splices. 

If you’re unsure if something is correct grammar, ask yourself: Can I take this piece out and still make sense? If so, then it’s probably correct grammar (which means if everyone took out the pieces, we’d still make sense… Right?). So what matters most about spelling vs grammar?

In Closing, spelling

Grammar has to do with how words are structured into sentences, and spelling can be used for grammar by checking for homonyms, preposition errors, etc. A tool to help check Grammar and Spelling is Grammarly.

FAQ

Which is more important, spelling or grammar?

Both, of course, are important. And both spelling and grammatical errors can cause confusion. That being said, check your spelling first, if you have to choose between the two

Is spelling vs grammar a spelling error?

Spelling vs spelling is not a spelling error. Spelling mistakes will not affect grammar or meaning while spelling can be used for grammar. Grammar affects meaning while spelling cannot determine run-on sentences versus comma splices.

What does spelling vs grammar mean?

Grammar and spelling can sometimes be confused with each other. However, they are two different concepts. Some people believe that spelling is the correct spelling of a word, but grammar has to do with how you use

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