The G Files, Uncategorized

The G Files Part 4: The Genuine Article

Articles (a, an and the) are tricky. Non-native English speakers struggle with knowing when and when not to use them. Native speakers instinctively know, but most cannot consciously articulate the rules they're unconsciously following. (Why is it "plants release oxygen into the air" and not "plants release the oxygen into air"? Why is "the tiger… Continue reading The G Files Part 4: The Genuine Article

The G Files

The G Files Part 3: 10 Failures of Common Sense

As I said in The G Files Part 1, some of the mistakes made by grammar-checking software make syntactic sense but are meaningless or nonsensical in the real world – like Chomsky's famous "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously" sentence. This is because the software knows which words can be nouns, verbs, and so on; but… Continue reading The G Files Part 3: 10 Failures of Common Sense

The G Files

The G Files Part 2: These are Not the Idioms You’re Looking For

Here are two more examples like the "rise up" and "dark night" examples in The G Files Part 1, where the grammar-checking software thinks it's spotted a phrase that its designers considered poor style, but in fact it's just the same words as would be used in that phrase, but meaning something different in context.… Continue reading The G Files Part 2: These are Not the Idioms You’re Looking For

The G Files

The G Files Part 1: Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Grammar-Checking Software

A former long-term client wanted me to use grammar-checking software on their documents, in addition to checking them myself – so I've got quite a lot of experience of the way it works, and many of the ways in which it doesn't work. Grammar-checking software works on rules and heuristics. It doesn't understand what it's… Continue reading The G Files Part 1: Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Grammar-Checking Software