I like the red underlines made by spell check. I like to know when I’ve made a spelling mistake or a typo.

I would love them more if spell check were smart enough to know when I should use further or farther, accept and except. Despite 20 years of listening to those smarty pant tech guys talk about artificial intelligence, Word can’t do that. This is much like the common cold still being common.

Usually I don’t like the green underlines made by spell check. Although they are supposed to be possible grammatical errors, with me they point out contractions (you’re), sentence fragments or other conversational techniques, which only the stuffiest fuddy duddy would condemn. Is that really the brand you’re cultivating, Word?

Neither grammar nor spell checking has a problem with its’. This is not a word, despite my campaign to punish people who commit this offence. My online Encarta Dictionary quietly drops the offending apostrophe when it checks the word. No wonder so many people screw this up.

Language evolves. But why can’t Word do a better job of pointing out the grammar errors that may weaken our ability to understand each other?

I’ve tried grammar software, but always encountered similar problems. I guess language is too complicated to analyse that way. Or maybe those smart pant tech guys don’t see as much venture capital potential as they do for smart phone apps or stock trading algorithms.

Because the green underlines are so misleading, many people don’t use them to ferret the actual grammar mistakes.  That means people don’t pay attention on those occasions when Word can help.

Unlike the conversational techniques I love, actual grammar mistakes, not possible ones or ones only fuddy duddies condemn, are flagged. If Word limited itself to actual, not possible, mistakes what a useful tool this could be.

Case in point: the green underlines that tell people when their subject and predicate don’t jibe. For example, when I type: “None of the men run,” the green underlining appears to remind me that I should have typed “runs” because of the subject is none, which is as non-plural as you can get. People who pay attention to the green underlining here are less likely to assume that the subject is “men.”

Word also sorts the I, me and myself confusion.

That’s nice, green underline. Us grammar nerds love subject-predicate agreements and pronoun harmony.  So why can’t those smarty pant tech guys at Microsoft help more?

While they’re improving this tool, could they, pretty please, remove the conversational stuff from the green underlines? Or pick another color for the fuddy duddies. I hate being told that maybe I’m wrong, when I know I’m right.

Maybe I should start a Facebook campaign or some other grammar nerd social activism. What do you think?

Thanks for the photo, Zebble.

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Too much or too little green in Word?
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