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Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Automatic Grammar Checkers to Correct Your Writing

automatic-grammar-checkerIn an earlier post, we gave details on some of the problems associated with the Google Translate tool. Well, there’s another type of automated tool that often makes intelligent writers look foolish, and that is the automatic grammar checker. Grammar is crucial to every kind of writing, but relying on an automatic grammar checker to fix your mistakes is a recipe for disaster.

Here are a few reasons why:

The Rules are Limited

English grammar laws are pretty complex, and the rules for most grammar-checking software is limited, so the results are often incorrect. Automatic grammar checkers have problems with context, which is why they might let sentences that are nothing more than a mess of jumbled words go through, and flag sentences that make perfect sense in the context of the piece.

As an example…you are preparing a memo or review about giving an employee a promotion and you write, “We do not want to see Sally succeed and move into a management position.” A grammar checker won’t remove the word “not” even though it completely alters the meaning of the sentence, and poor Sally is sent home in tears.  Say what you mean and mean what you say doesn’t always work out when a grammar checker is in charge of your sentences. (more…)

What are Expletive Constructions and Why Should I Avoid Them?

expletive constructionsWhether you write professionally, churn out the odd report as part of your job, or write papers and stories in school, structural and grammatical missteps are part of the process. One such misstep is known as expletive construction.

No, this doesn’t refer to stuffing profanities into your sentences, but it will take away from the energy, flow and overall quality of the writing.  (more…)

Self-Editing Tips Every Writer Should Know

self-editingNo matter what you are writing, editing must be part of the process if you hope to impress your audience. Professional editing, with human experts going over your work, is always the best approach, but you can make a difference on your own. Here are some self-editing tips that will help you avoid basic mistakes and keep your writing on track.

Write First, Edit Later

An issue that many writers face is editing their work while they are writing. That inner editor just keeps working away when you should be productive, and the results are anything but efficient. You stop every couple of sentences to correct a spelling mistake, go back to rearrange a paragraph or sit there staring at the screen for five minutes trying to think of the perfect word.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to turn off that inner editor and just write. If you know you’ve just made a spelling or grammar mistake, leave it. If you’re stuck on a single word, come back to it later. Editing as you go disrupts the flow and will end up taking longer.  (more…)

Farther vs. Further…Is There Really a Difference?

farther_furtherWhen it comes to writing just about anything, a great deal of confusion, head shaking and fist pounding comes from the use of farther and further. It’s pretty interesting how the difference of one letter results in so much stress, but it happens every day. Sometimes, writers will even re-arrange an entire sentence so the use of farther or further is no longer necessary.

Today, we will attempt to sort out the confusion for you. When are you supposed to use each one, and is there even a difference between the two?  (more…)