Why you can’t trust the spell checker

Jerrold Zar's well-known spell checker poem humorously shows why kids shouldn't always trust or rely on your computer's spell check feature!

This “Owed to the Spell Checker” poem reminds us why it’s best not to let kids rely on spell check!

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker’s
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word’s fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.

. . . . .

Copyright © Jerry Zar, 29 June 1992

Jerrold H. Zar
Graduate School
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

Title suggested by Pamela Brown.
Based on opening lines suggested by Mark Eckman.
By the author’s count, 123 of the 225 words are incorrect (although all words are correctly spelled).

Published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results, January/February 1994, page 13. Reprinted (“by popular demand”) in the Journal of Irreproducible Results, Vol. 45, No. 5/6, 2000, page 20.
Journal of Irreproducible Results, Box 234, Chicago Heights IL 60411 USA.

Photo Credit: annnie, courtesy of Creative Commons


  • Posted December 31, 2009


    Kim~ I LOVE THIS! HILARIOUS! I shared it with my daughter and we both got a huge laugh out of it. I need to link to this one!

  • Posted December 31, 2009


    Isn’t it great, Heidi? I can’t tell you how many parents question our recommendation that kids use a dictionary to check their spelling “when we have spell check on our computer.” 🙂

  • Posted December 31, 2009

    Isabelle aka Canadianladybug

    It is indeed hilarious. I want to print it and show my son. I can bet that even at his age he will find it funny… He might point me that they are homophones…..

    Besides, I’m French Canadian and I write better than this.

  • Posted January 1, 2010


    Wouldn’t it be a fun exercise to have your child “translate” the poem using the correct homophones? If you try it, Isabelle, let me know how it goes!

  • Posted January 2, 2010

    Diane Allen

    I personally love spell checker! But I hate it when my children miss those homophones! I like that suggestion about correcting the poem above. It will make them aware of these problematic words that spell checker misses.

  • Posted January 3, 2010


    I totally agree, Diane! Spell checkers do have their place, especially for words that aren’t homophones. But this poem is definitely a fun way to remind us to work on those pesky homophones with our kids. have fun “translating”!

  • Posted March 15, 2010

    Tina Hammer

    Love it!! And my daughter really likes the book– it’s fun!

    • Posted March 15, 2010


      Thanks for sharing that, Tina. It is a wonderful tool.

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