Chocolate don’t make you fat

I hate the grammar checker in Word. It’s a horrible piece of technology that is riddled with inaccuracies.

Call me a pedant, but I wouldn’t want to ship a product that only half works. When a grammar checker can read the sentence

“Chocolate don’t make you fat.”

and claim that there is nothing wrong with this grammatically, there is something very wrong. Word has done this in every version since the grammar check was introduced, and still does it in Word 2010. I’d be embarrassed by this if I were on the development team. On a personal level, I am also dangerously irritated by the fact that it frequently spits out a ‘semicolon use’ message whenever I (correctly) use a semicolon in a way it can’t quite understand.

I get that natural language grammar rules are complicated to automate, partly because they have so many exceptions. Spelling is easy because each word is treated in isolation. Education observers have decried the rise of the spell-checker as a catalyst for the decline of pupils’ personal abilities to spell correctly, despite the fact that I can personally attest to the fact that much of the spell-checkers job is checking for poor typing, not poor spelling. However, none to my knowledge have examined the fact that pupils relying on the grammar checker as a crutch may not only be unable to form sentences themselves, but will go around believing such monstrous constructions as the one above to be correct. At least by relying on a spell-check, the end result is still correct spelling.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

6 responses to “Chocolate don’t make you fat”

  1. Ray says :

    You leave the grammar checker on?!? I must admit that I think that most of the things it reminds me about are deliberate choices I make. But I get to decide how to write, not it. And I like starting sentences with ‘gramatically incorrect’ choices.

  2. Gerard Sweeney says :

    Frankly, I’m just pleased to see pupils typing using full words and something approaching actual sentences – a quick glance at their average email is riddled with the ridiculous txtspk that hasn’t been needed in emails since we moved away from BBS. U gt wt I mn m8? ([Thwhack!]. Stop that immediately. Ed)

    And no, I didn’t run this reply through any grammar checker – can you tell?

  3. Claudio says :

    Maybe the grammar checker is based on RnB song’s lyrics? In this case it’s correct :-)

  4. Gerard Sweeney says :

    I was like, why iz dat, I aks myself? ([sound of shotgun being loaded] Last warning. Ed)

  5. Giles Wendes says :

  6. Steddy says :

    I just came across this post and tested it out, to my own disgust. However, Word 2010 marked “don’t” as grammatically offensive when I turned on the style-checking option. When right-clicking over the green squiggle of knowledge, Word suggested that I correct my sentence to the infinitely more proper “Chocolate do not make you fat.”

    *facepalm*