The characters I'm working with not only speak in rural slang [i.e. frequently drop the 'g' on words ending in 'ing'] but, as a third person omniscient, I also have them thinking in it. [Thinkin' in it.] Is there an established rule on this? On either?

Unrelatedly, it drives MS Word's spellcheck mad.

  • 2
    you can add each misspelled word to your Word dictionary to stop driving MS Word's spellcheck mad. But such changes will haunt you in future projects. Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 5:33
  • @HenryTaylor I think you can just "ignore" them, so they will be not marked as errors but also not added to the dictionary.
    – FraEnrico
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 14:45
  • @FraEnrico, Yeah, I considered recommending the Ignore and Ignore-All features, but (at least in Word 2013 which I use) misspellings which are marked with ignore, get underlined as misspelled again whenever the program restarts. I've learned to just live with having a few weird words in my dictionary. Hasn't stung me... yet. Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 14:50
  • Thank you. Actually, somewhere, on some tiny slip of paper somewhere, I have a simple little line of code that instructs MS Word to ignore any word ending in in' in any given document. It took me weeks to find someone who knew. You'd think I'd have been more careful with it. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 0:20

3 Answers 3


You're fine. If you're presenting the character's words, then you can do it in their own syntax, grammar, or pronunciation. Careful not to let that seep into the 3rd-person narrator's voice.

(I turn off spellcheck. I'll catch misspellings during proofreadin'.)


Even in the third person, if the narration is from the POV of a single character (as it should be, to avoid confusion), it's acceptable to phrase the narration the way the character thinks.

Be aware, however, that sometimes a character with an accent will think in "perfect" speech (Alex Kilgour in the Sten novels, for instance, by Alan Cole and Chris Bunch, deeply Scots in his speech but wrote in ordinary English), but the words come out of their mouth in a nearly unintelligible form; other times, they think in a dialect form because it's the way they grew up speaking.


I agree with previous answers: it is totally acceptable to have characters, and their external POV voice, talking in slang.

But I would also add that I don't see a problem using slang even for an omniscient 3rd person POV, at all. If the language slang adds flavor to the narration, rhythm and worldview, I would use it. A 3rd person omniscient is a rhetorical artifact anyway, so it would be impossible to pretend pure objectivity in it. Being a voice in itself, it is always an ideal character telling the story to the reader, so it's not wrong if it has a personality.

The risk, however, is that this technique can subtract neutrality, or be too redundant or invasive. It must be used with taste and cleverness.

(I think I stepped a bit astray from the original question - I hope this helps anyway).

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