For those without a Microsoft 365 account, Google Docs does a passable-to-decent job of creating a document. It comes free with all Gmail accounts as part of G-Suite, so it’s nice to know it’s there when a document program is needed in a pinch.
It has a big flaw though.
There are those times when one is writing a document, that the words are flowing as fast as thoughts. The fingers blur over the keys.
And words appear on the screen.
Then comes the editing.
Reading along, sentence by sentence, discovering thoughts made tangible in a flurry of activity- but what’s this? Is there supposed to be an apostrophe for “its” or not?
Small mistakes like this, grammatically, happen all the time.
Thanks to grammar check features, they’re quickly solved and reduce the amount of time it takes to edit a document. As a writer, I speak to the helpfulness of these things as I have to write constantly every day for work and for pleasure.
Grammar check features, though helpful, are not 100% secure though.
Which is why having a second set of eyes is always a good idea.
For writers like me, however, this sometimes a luxury.
For Google to start implementing this feature into Docs means there will be another option available to match Microsoft Word. There’s no news of Docs becoming a fee-based service. That means another word processing application that can check grammar and spelling will likely attract a lot of attention.
Everyone knows Word.
It’s often listed under “required skills” on a job application.
Should you find yourself working in the publishing industry, you’ll discover Microsoft Word is the program you’ll end up working with the most. Queries coming in a format other than Word are quickly tossed out.
Word, as of this writing, has the most sophisticated grammar check feature available to the public. If you’re using the most recent version of Word, you’ll notice the double-blue lines underneath words or phrases that are spelled correctly. If they were misspelled, they’d have that red, squiggly line underneath.
No, the double-blue line is for grammar.
Left click anywhere on that double-blue line and a pop-up window will appear with suggestions that are grammatically correct.
Microsoft has worked on this grammar check feature for years. A big reason for its level of sophistication is because Microsoft launched Word back in the eighties. Ever since then, they’ve been working to improve the program.
I may not have been the best student in English (I was worse in math), but after years of writing, I can say with confidence, that my grammar is much because of my experience. It’s the same with Microsoft Word.
I work primarily in Word. The rough draft of this article was written in Word, in fact.
To post my work, however, I go through applications that don’t have Word’s years of experience to check my grammar.
As a hedge against possible embarrassment, I’ve signed up for the free version of Grammarly.
At first, my pride prevented me from doing this. I had Microsoft Word, after all, why go with a young upstart?
That pride, however, went away quickly when I realized there was no grammar check feature installed on the software used for our website. I hastily signed up for the free version of Grammarly.
Unlike Word, Grammarly uses an AI to check my work.
Grammarly, in their own words, uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence system to analyze each sentence.
Now, on every email, social media comment, or online form that I fill out, a spinning green circle waits for me to finish so it can check if I’ve been grammatically correct. Not politically correct, spiritually correct, but grammatically correct.
When done, it’ll turn red with a number on it, stating how many offenses to grammar that I’ve committed. I have yet to write something grammatically correct the first time through.
I guess I’m still human then.
Grammarly is helpful that way.
It does not, however, work with Google Docs.
Google Docs does have a spell-check feature. This is basic and easy to install. It’s simply a dictionary app hooked up the word processing program to check my spelling against its database of words.
Soon, Google will roll out their grammar check feature.
In the beginning, it will only be available to business customers. If your company uses Google heavily, then contact the G-Suite administrator to have it unlocked on your profile…that is, when it rolls out.
This grammar check feature doesn’t have the years of experience that Word has.
Instead, it’s based on Google Translate.
As it’s been described, Google will be using the same technology they use for their Google Translate app. This technology translates multiple languages, using machine translation. What Google has done here is plug in “perfect grammar” into the “translate to” field. Your writing will fill in the “translate from” field.
It’s a clever use of the technology.
How well it does in catching every grammatical mistake remains to be seen.
But, as some great writer said: “Nothing ventured is nothing gained.”
Maybe it was Chaucer?
To me, Google Docs getting a grammar check feature is big news.
To others, it’s a passing piece of news. Those are the types of people who don’t check their Dictionary App every day to learn the “Word of the Day.”
Today it’s blinkered, by the way.
Having a program check your grammar as you write is a tool that does more for you than you realize. Before something like this existed, a real person had to sit and double check your writing. And they usually had a well-worn copy of a style guide sitting next to them as they did this.
Automation has taken this away and AI appears to be taking it over.
Though this is good news, don’t mistake AI as the savior of writing.
While Artificial Intelligence can do things for you, it can not- try as it might- speak for you.
That’s something you do for yourself. And writing is a way to do that.
With a grammar check feature, whether it be in Word, Google Docs, or Grammarly, you can hedge against sounding idiotic. But, to sound genuine, that’s something that can only be done by you and no one else.
One last note, whether you write online, or write in Word and then copy-paste it into an online platform, make sure your internet is fast and reliable. Check out the best internet bundles to see what’s available in your area and how much you can save.
Then get to writing!