Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dear Microsoft: Please leave grammar for the snobs.

Microsoft Word should never check your grammar. Ever. Ever.

With all the advances in technology, it’s easy to believe that it’s smarter than us. But for some reason, Word just didn’t get on the money with their grammar check.

Instead of just whining about it, here are some concrete examples of Word being wrong, all of which are taken from my own writing.

“The grandmother is still hostile at the funeral, but Sam’s “battle buddy” and other platoon members stick up for her.”

Microsoft word is giving “members” a green squiggly in my original document. When I write click on it, both member’s and members’ are suggested. Using the “explain” feature, I learn that the problem is possessive use. Word is assuming that “members” own the stick, when in reality, “stick up” is a phrasal verb.

“For Lily Owens, the only thing worse than kneeling on grits is the thought that her mother left her.”

Here, my whole sentence is underlined for being a fragment. For those of you who don’t know, a fragment is just “piece of a sentence” – not a complete one. However, this IS a full sentence.

Subject: the only thing worse than kneeling on grits

Verb: is

Object: the thought that her mother left her.

Last time I checked, you needed these three things to be a sentence. The sad thing is, I’m not even sure how Word is construing this sentence as an imposter.

“I am not a religious person and had not read any of the Bible prior to the class.”

For this sentence, Word is suggesting that I change Bible to Bibles because of number agreement. Using the rule that “many,” “few,” and “one of” must modify plural verbs. Word is essentially trying to make my sentence say that I had not read any of the Bibles in existence, rather than that I had not read one single page of the Bible until I took that class.

Sure, sometimes Word gets it right, but here are three separate instances when the program goofed, and I was just lucky enough to know that what I was writing was correct. When in doubt, just click “ignore.”

Do you like this advice? Do you have questions? Are you yearning to learn more about grammar? Leave a question, example, or concept you want to know more about in the comments section.

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