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Who's bad at grammar then?
by Lynda Archard
©: February 19th 2001

At the beginning of my writing career I sat here struggling to read dictionaries and what do I have on my hard-drive? Microsoft word!

Not only does it spell check but also it checks grammar and suggests phrases. It also has a handy tool that allows you to specify the set of grammar and writing style rules you want Word to use. For example you can select a built-in style, such as Casual Communication or Technical Writing. Or you can create your own grammar and writing style by customising an existing style or creating a new style to suit your own writing. You can also discover readability statistics.

1 On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab. 2 Select the Check grammar with spelling check box. 3 Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK. 4 Click Spelling.

When Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it can display information about the reading level of the document, including the following readability scores. Each readability score bases itís rating on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.

When Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document and rates the text on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score rates text on U.S. grade-school level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

This article has a Flesch-Kincaid reading ease level of 63.6 and is readable by grade 8.0. There were a couple of fragments, which I told Word to ignore. The downside is that it will also suggest you use 'whom' every time you want to use the word 'who,' it just did it to me now and I don't use the word even if it is correct. The word sounds old fashioned and doesn't reflect modern speech.

If you have got a good idea to write an article about and you have Microsoft Word then you can start writing quality articles today. If you take note of what the program suggests it could soon improve your skills forever!

An update:

This article roused some readers when it was placed at and I feel that I need to clarify a few of the points raised. The last sentence of the above article is the most important. When I wrote this article I was trying to help writers and by using the grammar and spell checks it can remind a new writer of things we can get constantly wrong. I would like to think that some people who read this do not make the same mistake twice. I would also like to add that not everyone would write using formal English for many reasons. A simple message with good advice or content will often suffice on a website.

Just because I don't use certain words or phrases does not mean I can't use or understand when to use them. It is easy for a writer to write only one 'type' of English. It is a very rich language and covers formal, informal, standard and different dialects, as well as Phonetic English used by foreign language students. When I am typing a sentence explaining how a spell checker will want to change 'who' into 'whom,' I think it is important to also point out that we all have a choice.


© Lynda Archard