Help needed from a writer or blogger!!!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by aygwm, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. aygwm macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    #1
    This seems to simple, yet I can't find the info anywhere. I'm looking for a spell checker, that actually allows you to add words to be CHECKED in spell check mode, such as "you're" and "your". As we all know, spell checks will bypass words it recognizes, such as "they're" and "their". The Grammar checks also seem to miss these very commonly misspelled words. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I would be for an answer here.
     
  2. mikeypizano macrumors member

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    Apr 13, 2008
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    Pittston PA
    #2
    Have you tried writinh the stuff in Office? That is what I do.
     
  3. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #3
    So, are you wanting these words flagged every time so you can verify they are used correctly, or are you wanting the program to flag you when you use them incorrectly based on context?

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  4. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #5
    I'd have to try it out again, but I thought Word's grammar check generally did fine with this. Do people who are not internet-tards, and who actually make an attempt to use "you're" and "they're" properly actually make these errors that frequently, though, for it to be an issue?
     
  6. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #6
    I think maybe you're asking for magic.

    Spell checkers don't bypass words they recognize. They check them and find that they are spelled correctly. Grammar checkers likewise can only verify (more or less) that you wrote a valid sentence, not that you expressed what you intended.

    As already noted, any modern word processor does a fair job of it. Even TextEdit has a grammar checking option in the preferences that catches most obvious errors. So does Safari, if you check Edit/Spelling and Grammar/Check Grammar with Spelling.

    However, natural language is too complicated for any automatic checking to be completely reliable. They can verify that you wrote something that is structured like something that could make sense under the right circumstances, but they cannot decide if you actually expressed yourself correctly. Only a human brain can do that, and if I may make a radical suggestion, why not yours?

    You can learn this. All you need to know is exactly what ideas you mean to express and the correct meanings of the words you use to express them. One imagines both of those are unavoidable prerequisites of writing anything at all. If you are still in school, someone is already being paid to teach you this, and you should take advantage of it. Most importantly, when you aren't writing, read. Read things you know are written correctly (i.e., books, not blogs) and over time correct usage will infuse itself into your brain somewhat.
     
  7. 4JNA macrumors 68000

    4JNA

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    #7
    how about just removing anything you are worried about from the spell/grammar checker so it flags them for a quick double-check every time?

    you can be your own best critic!
     
  8. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #8
    You know, there's the germ of an interesting feature here. It'd be nice if, in addition to spell checker, there was some sort of "Find homonyms" function that wouldn't correct, but would highlight those words for you, so you could check their proper usage yourself.

    This assumes you know how to use the words correctly. I don't know how a computer program would be able to tell you when to use their instead of they're. As Gelfin says, at the moment that's computer alchemy.
     
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #9
    Although I still haven't bothered to check and see how well Word actually catches these errors, they are clearly grammatical errors and not just failures to connote intention correctly. Their and they're occupy different parts of speech -- they are not interchangeable. In particular, any sentence that swaps them pretty much automatically has an invalid number of verbs in it, because it either has one too many (from an incorrect you're) or one too few (from missing the are part of you're). So with these two particular errors, it is not possible (at least not outside of very contrived circumstances) to make a syntactically valid sentence in any meaningful sense that contains these errors.
     
  10. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #10
    I have no argument with the theoretical point, but practice is much less satisfying. At least for the OS X grammar checker, it seems fairly easy to trip up:

    There it goes again.
    Their it goes again.
    They're it goes again.
    (All of these are judged to be correct. In fact, I'm having a hard time finding a misuse of "there" and friends the OS X checker won't accept.)

    Your dog tired.
    You're dog tired.
    (The grammar checker gets it exactly wrong. The first is grammatically correct, but there is almost no case where an actual English speaker would ever use it. The second is correct, but "you're" is marked.)

    The MS Word grammar checker is somewhat smarter. It recognizes "their it…" as incorrect, but not "they're it…," which is odd because the latter is more obviously wrong. "Their…" at least has some syntactic credibility, though little semantic. In "you're…" it helpfully suggests that "dog-tired" should be hyphenated thusly, which is technically correct, but common English has a great tolerance, even preference, for dropped hyphens. Hardly anyone would notice or care if the writer omitted it, particularly as compared with a "your/you're" violation. Further, it marks "dog tired" only in the "you're" case. On the other hand, it marks "your" incorrect without considering the edge case that I might be stiltedly discussing why your dog lost a race.

    Arguably worse, the OS X grammar checker marks several things in the above paragraph that I know are correct, and missed one error I caught in proofreading. Those who cannot recognize when the grammar checker is wrong are doomed to overlooked errors and awkward rewrites that may not preserve their intended connotations, all to satisfy a machine that cannot actually read anything.

    Then there's the confusion a grammatically challenged writer would experience just from the fact OS X and MS Word have conflicting "opinions" of what constitutes acceptable grammar. Anyone would become frustrated trying to rely solely on the machine to judge their grammar.

    I stand by my statement that the checker is a crutch only. It can be useful in many cases, but it is no substitute for knowing what you're doing in the first place.
     
  11. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    #11
    "Your dog tired" uses your in a possessive way, like the sentence is missing is, as in Your dog is tired.

    "You're dog tired", using You're which is short for You are and Describes you as the one that is tired.

    I look at the difference as descriptions, and can change the meaning of the sentence. This seems to apply to many different words used, and yes I miss them a lot too. Some grammar programs catch errors, but they are errors you intend to have as a way of speaking. I like writers that don't always use regular conventions.

    Just opinion. :)
     
  12. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    May 21, 2007
    #12
    Basically, yes. ;) :p

    OP, grammar and spelling checkers are not the solutions to your problems. Take it from someone who has spent a lot of time as an English tutor, writing that has been overly reliant on spell check shows itself to be overly reliant on spell check.

    The only real way to minimize spelling and grammatical errors is to begin the sometimes arduous task of relearning many of grammar's rules. Now I'm not saying that you need to know when to use fewer and when to use less (although you probably should know that :p), but you should have sufficient proficiency and comfort with the rules so that you avoid making simple mistakes to begin with. This will save you time and improve your writing when you don't have a computer to help you.
     
  13. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #13
    You have overlooked the alternate meaning. Tired is not only an adjective; it is also the past tense of tire: "Your dog tired before it reached the finish line, whereas mine endured the entire race."
     
  14. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    #14
    Gelfin

    Point taken, and thanks. I don't mind learning things. Sometimes it just takes me a bit to get there. :D
     
  15. aygwm thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 4, 2008
    #15
    Yes, but...

    Thanks for the suggestions, but we're not closer to a solution here. We all know what the problem is. So let me rephrase the question: is there a way to REMOVE words from a dictionary, in Word or another program, so that the potential misspell (you're vs. your) is flagged every time. I can't seem to find a way to access the dictionary in MS Word, etc.
     
  16. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #16
    Neither the Mac OS X dictionary nor the MS Word dictionary supports removing a legitimate word. Furthermore, both store their raw dictionary data in a non-human-accessible format, so it is not readily possible to hack out a single entry by modifying the data yourself. Unless someone knows of another word processor that does support this, it seems likely you are a bit out of luck.

    One workaround would be to keep a list of words you have trouble with and then search for each one in turn during proofreading. It will take slightly more time than having the spell checker highlight them automatically, but with any luck the annoyance will condition you to double-check yourself as you write.
     
  17. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    #17
    I think many people here are quite close to a solution: Improve your grammar. ;)

    Honestly, there are few things more important in life than mastering your chosen language (or languages). The quality of your speech and writing speak volumes about you, and it's hard to fake good writer's craft with electronic tools and shortcuts.
     
  18. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

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    Sep 3, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #18
    Ah, I see what you meant there. I was thinking you meant 'dog tired' as an adjective, as in "your dog tired sister just fell asleep on my couch." I guess some would put a hyphen between dog and tired although grammatically that is not necessary.
    I must be a grammar nerd but I find such conversations fascinating.
     
  19. 4JNA macrumors 68000

    4JNA

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    #19
    not remove. the word you are looking for is Exclude. you can create an exclusion list for the items of interest. works well for word, not sure about other programs. best of luck.

    edit: found a step-by-step for newer versions HERE .
     

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