Grammar Checkers Gone Wild

What’s wrong with online grammar checkers? Everything.

A grammar checker marks as bad grammar the sentence “Everything” in the paragraph above, even though it is perfectly acceptable as the answer to a question.

A grammar checker  accepts “among the new categories, first-born sons show a profit” and rejects “among the new categories, first-born sons shows a profit.” The grammar checker pinpoints the verb as the problem, when in fact punctuation is a problem (“first-born sons” should be set off in quotes or otherwise treated as a single category).

A grammar checker reads “the New Hampshire company continues to show a profit” and tells you to capitalize “company” because it thinks “New Hampshire Company” is a proper noun.

Online spell checkers usually give great advice, confused only by rare words, foreign words or the misspellings common to product and company names. But online grammar checkers uniformly give terrible advice.

If you are concerned about grammar in your document, please send it to a reviewer who knows grammar rather than trusting a computer program. An online grammar checker’s mistakes will not only make you look careless, but will also mislead your readers who (for example) have to figure out if there really is a New Hampshire Company showing a profit somewhere.

At TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, we answer questions about grammar for our customers and make good grammar an essential part of any copywriting or copyediting we do.

Send us your grammar questions and we’ll be happy to answer them.