I just have to mention this…

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grammar Check

Grammar Check

I tend to not rely on spell check because it misses things and also I feel like it will make me lazy, like I might just forget how to spell, but lately I’ve been doing such a bad job typing — and an even worse job catching mistakes — that I’ve started using it.

The spell check in WordPress also has a grammar-check feature, and I find the grammar-check features in most programs to be worse than useless, they are actually actively bad — my writing would be so much worse if I actually followed any of their advice — so generally I ignore them but I’ve been so baffled by some of the green underlines in my spell-checked draft posts that I’ve had to start clicking on them to see what it thinks the problem is.

Today I get an underline of “almost empty” and I can’t think of anything wrong with that so I click to see what’s going on and Mr. WordPress spell check tells me that something can’t be almost empty, it’s either empty or it’s not.

I’m sorry, but I completely disagree with this.

Of course something can be almost empty. Where is this spell check person from, and what language did he grow up speaking that he thinks there is something wrong with the phrase “almost empty?” How would he describe a carton of eggs with one egg in it? Is it empty? No, but almost.


When computers take over the world, we are all in trouble.

13 Responses to “I just have to mention this…”

  1. Valerie Says:

    This made me laugh–I could completely identify with your feelings about this. (Perhaps ‘completely’ is superfluous–you either identify or you don’t! :-) )


  2. Lorrie Says:

    I agree with you, too! Although I wish the editors of my local newspaper would use spell check and grammar check more often. Still, it would not correct things like using “their” instead of “there” or “to” instead of “too”. I always wonder if I am using commas correctly, or, as in the previous sentence, should I put the quotation mark before or after the period. Is there a check for that?

  3. Jen Says:

    I definitely agree with you! Despite context, that’s a pretty philosophical remark for a computer to make!

  4. fernando Says:

    I love when you talk more about the stuff that happens to all, like this shity wordcheck, grammar check… or anything else… but Im thinking I should try to cook something somtime… let’s see.

  5. lessisenough Says:

    In the computer’s defense, it’s true that something can’t be a little bit empty — either it’s empty or it’s not empty. But a glass can be half empty. Or half full. As the case may be.

  6. lessisenough Says:

    I’ve spent loads of time proofreading and copyediting, and I still do some freelance copywriting, so many things that other people have trouble with have been beaten into my head by now (the period goes inside the quote, even though that seems weird). (And the period in the last sentence goes outside the parentheses because the period ends the whole sentence. In this parenthetical remark, the period will go inside the parentheses, because the complete sentence is included inside the parentheses.)

    I often have trouble with homonyms when I’m typing, e.g., I write waist instead of waste, and the problem seemed to be getting worse and I started to worry that I had experienced some kind of subtle brain damage until I came across an email message from about 15 years ago where I expressed the very same concern — help! I write right when I mean rite– so it may be a subtle form of brain damage, but it doesn’t seem to be getting worse.

    Here’s a link that a friend posted on his blog to a comic about semicolons that I just love. Maybe my next blog will be about grammar.

  7. Lorrie Says:

    Thanks for the tip about where the period goes in relation to the quotation mark. I never thought I’d be learning grammar on this blog! It’s a bonus, I guess. Thanks also for the link to the comic about semicolons. That was hilarious. Keep the grammar lessons coming! The internet is a wonderful thing!

  8. Abby Says:

    Did you know Thursday was “National Grammer Day”? Or, so said on my local TV News station.

    My mother is 85 and has Alzheimer’s, which, of course, makes me that much more certain my odd grammatical mistakes are a sign of senility (I am 51).

    I find having a computer actually helps me, in that it leads me to do more writing than I might otherwise. As appalled as I am when I see my mistakes online, at least the computer keeps me practicing. Recent studies have shown that using the computer does exercise the brain in a way that simply reading does not, so I am hoping it helps me retain what skills I have.

  9. Abby Says:

    Oh dear, “National Grammer Day?”

  10. Abby Says:

    Oh, dear. “or, so it said on my local TV News station.”

    See what I mean about odd grammatical mistakes?

  11. Chard Lady Says:

    Perhaps it is easier to misunderestimate the amount of jam with your choice of wording. Would it prefer “nearly empty”?

  12. lessisenough Says:

    I haven’t figured out when my homonym problem appears — or if it’s always around but I notice it sometimes more than others, it seems exceptionally bad lately — but you can imagine my relief when I found that message with a subject line of “grammar dysfunction” discussing the very same problem in 1996 when I was too young for it to feel like a sign of impending senility. But not too young for it to be a sign of a brain tumor so that’s what I decided to be worried about.

    The problem with spell check is that it generally doesn’t catch the things I have the most problems with — the words are spelled right, I just picked the wrong one (or won, as it were).

  13. lessisenough Says:

    I actually thought about this more — because I don’t have anything better to think about, apparently — and decided that I do in fact agree with the computer. Something is empty or it’s not. However the qualification comes in when discussing whether or not a state of emptiness has been achieved. When I say that something is “almost empty,” I’m not discussing the level of emptiness, I’m discussing how close it is to being empty. Will it be empty soon or is it a long way from being empty?

    And clearly, the container was not empty, because if it had been, I wouldn’t have been able to get any jam out of it. But I’m still not sure how you would write that in a way that would be acceptable to the Green Underliner Grammar Checker.

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