Minor Fail: MS Word Grammar Check



  • I was going through some of my old stuff from some time ago, and found this little confusing green squiggle.


    The first line is my original, the next two are variations that Word found acceptable. I can't figure out how Word thinks this sentence should be parsed. The original seems clear to me, but I know what I was saying. Does anyone else understand what Word wants?





  • @Jedalyzer said:

    I was going through some of my old stuff from some time ago, and found this little confusing green squiggle.


    The first line is my original, the next two are variations that Word found acceptable. I can't figure out how Word thinks this sentence should be parsed. The original seems clear to me, but I know what I was saying. Does anyone else understand what Word wants?

    Well, for starters, you might try wiping out that damn passive voice.  I'm surprised that Word found any of them acceptable with that going on.

    Mind you, to fix that problem, you'll have to figure out exactly what produced the screenshots.  If you can't come up with a subject for the active-voice version, use "elves" and trust your editor to supply the correct replacement.

     



  • @Jedalyzer said:

    Does anyone else understand what Word wants?

    I can understand what you're saying and I can make sense of Word's first suggestion, but not the second one.

    I have certainly found Word incorrectly flags sentences that make grammatical sense and it definitely seems to confuse itself with verb/noun number agreement, which has happened here. Word thinks that iteration is a "noun that cannot be counted or divided" but "one iteration", "5 iterations", etc makes sense to me.

    The thing that winds me up the most though is that the option to disable grammar checking is labelled "Hide grammatical errors in this document".



  • @RTapeLoadingError said:

    @Jedalyzer said:
    Does anyone else understand what Word wants?

    I can understand what you're saying and I can make sense of Word's first suggestion, but not the second one.

    How exactly does "The resulting screenshots were each produced by one is iteration of simulation." make sense.



  • @RTapeLoadingError said:

    The thing that winds me up the most though is that the option to disable grammar checking is labelled "Hide grammatical errors in this document".
    It'd be nice if they offered other places to hide them.  "Hide grammatical errors in the cat's litterbox".  Yeah, I'd use that.  Or "Hide grammatical errors in a numbered offshore bank account".  Or "Hide grammatical errors between rolls of your belly fat".



  • @KimJongIl said:

    @RTapeLoadingError said:
    @Jedalyzer said:
    Does anyone else understand what Word wants?

    I can understand what you're saying and I can make sense of Word's first suggestion, but not the second one.

    How exactly does "The resulting screenshots were each produced by one is iteration of simulation." make sense.

    Except that neither of the outputs contain "one is". The first is "one's" as in "One's grammar will improve when one reads a grammar textbook." The second is "ones" as in "Strong Bad had 17 cold ones that day."


  • @da Doctah said:

    @Jedalyzer said:

    I was going through some of my old stuff from some time ago, and found this little confusing green squiggle.


    The first line is my original, the next two are variations that Word found acceptable. I can't figure out how Word thinks this sentence should be parsed. The original seems clear to me, but I know what I was saying. Does anyone else understand what Word wants?

    Well, for starters, you might try wiping out that damn passive voice.  I'm surprised that Word found any of them acceptable with that going on.

    Mind you, to fix that problem, you'll have to figure out exactly what produced the screenshots.  If you can't come up with a subject for the active-voice version, use "elves" and trust your editor to supply the correct replacement.

     

     

    A delegation was sent to the passive voice embassy to consult with the accused on the issue. The passive voice's answer to our suggestion of "being wiped out of this sentence" was given expediently in the form of a boot's sole to the derrierre. The members of the delgation are being cared for at the local hospital. And now the weather.

     



  • @KimJongIl said:

    How exactly does "The resulting screenshots were each produced by one is iteration of simulation." make sense.


    one's is not abbreviation of one is, but a possessive of one where one is used as gender neutral demonstrative pronoun. Sometimes when you don't want to say he nor she and don't want to resort to abomination like s/he, you can use one instead. And than the possessive form corresponding to his is one's.



  • @Ben L. said:

    @KimJongIl said:
    @RTapeLoadingError said:
    @Jedalyzer said:
    Does anyone else understand what Word wants?

    I can understand what you're saying and I can make sense of Word's first suggestion, but not the second one.

    How exactly does "The resulting screenshots were each produced by one is iteration of simulation." make sense.

    Except that neither of the outputs contain "one is". The first is "one's" as in "One's grammar will improve when one reads a grammar textbook." The second is "ones" as in "Strong Bad had 17 cold ones that day."

    …where while the first at least parses correctly (never mind not making sense), the second is ungrammatical, because it would make ones an object and two objects can't just follow each other without conjunction.



  • My own opinion is that Word is confused by the lack of an article before "simulation".

    The resulting screenshots were each produced by one iteration of the simulation.

    Try that.

    And it isn't the passive voice. It is the impersonal voice, distinguished from the passive by the "by" clause that specifies the subject of the active voice version of the passive voice sentence. Not all languages have this partial ambiguity. Welsh, for example, has active-voice impersonal present and past tenses that can be used (without a subject) for any verb rather than just transitive verbs. For example, you can say, "Eir i Gymru," which would literally translate as something like "Wales is gone to" but more fluently as "People go to Wales."



  • How does it respond to "with an iteration" or "with a single iteration"?



  • Word's grammar checker is based on relatively old parsing technology. It tries to analyze a sentence by eliminating incorrect combinations locally, based on (guesses of) the lexical categories and sometimes on strings. The problem is that that only works when the sentence is grammatical. So, for ungrammatical sentences, you need heuristics. Strict heuristics mean many false alarms, lax heuristics means many unspotted errors. It works reasonably well, and improving it is pretty costly.

    BTW, I hope "wiping out that damn passive voice" was ironic, because it doesn't make sense at all.



  • The simulation produced these screenshots after a single iteration.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @KimJongIl said:

    @RTapeLoadingError said:
    @Jedalyzer said:
    Does anyone else understand what Word wants?

    I can understand what you're saying and I can make sense of Word's first suggestion, but not the second one.

    How exactly does "The resulting screenshots were each produced by one is iteration of simulation." make sense.

    The apostrophe is indicating possession, not omission of a letter, as in:
    The resulting screenshots were each produced with John's iteration of simulation.


  • @Bulb said:

    @KimJongIl said:

    How exactly does "The resulting screenshots were each produced by one is iteration of simulation." make sense.


    one's is not abbreviation of one is, but a possessive of one where one is used as gender neutral demonstrative pronoun. Sometimes when you don't want to say he nor she and don't want to resort to abomination like s/he, you can use one instead. And than the possessive form corresponding to his is one's.
    i prefer them's.

     



  • @PJH said:

    The apostrophe is indicating possession, not omission of a letter, as in:

    The resulting screenshots were each produced with John's iteration of simulation.
    If you go back far enough into Middle English, you'll find that the apostrophe does indeed stand for a missing letter, even in the possessive. Modern English says "John's" rather than the "Johnes" you might find in Middle English.


  • @Bulb said:

    @KimJongIl said:

    How exactly does "The resulting screenshots were each produced by one is iteration of simulation." make sense.


    one's is not abbreviation of one is, but a possessive of one where one is used as gender neutral demonstrative pronoun.<snip>
    In this case, yes. But it[i] can[/i] be an abbreviation for "one is." "He didn't know how many Presidents we have at any point in time? Der! One's the answer!"

     



  • One's up on a time.



  • @Steve the Cynic said:

    My own opinion is that Word is confused by the lack of an article before "simulation". The resulting screenshots were each produced by one iteration of the simulation. Try that.

    "by one iteration" still has the green squiggly.

    @Shoreline said:

    How does it respond to "with an iteration" or "with a single iteration"?

    These work.

    @robbak said:

    The simulation produced these screenshots after a single iteration.

    This works, but it says the wrong thing. The simulation did not produce the screenshots. It produced the data which I then captured in a screenshot, but I wanted to avoid putting myself into the technical report, following tech writing (standard/recommended) practice.



  • Don't follow mindless advice about avoiding the passive. Most people that tell you to couldn't identify a passive voice if it stripped naked, painted itself pink, and started dancing on a harpsichord while singing "the passive voice is here again". In most cases, the passive is perfectly acceptable. In case you want to have quotes on that, check LanguageLog, e.g. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4169, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3897, or http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2922



  • @Jedalyzer said:


    The resulting screenshots were each produced by one iteration of simulation.



  • @DaveK said:

    The resulting screenshots were each produced by one iteration of simulation.

    You're not even trying, are you?

     



  • @TGV said:

    Don't follow mindless advice about avoiding the passive. Most people that tell you to couldn't identify a passive voice if it stripped naked, painted itself pink, and started dancing on a harpsichord while singing "the passive voice is here again". In most cases, the passive is perfectly acceptable. In case you want to have quotes on that, check LanguageLog, e.g. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4169, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3897, or http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2922
    The only reason to use the passive voice is if you're trying to hide something.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @da Doctah said:

    The passive voice is used solely when something was trying to be hidden.
    FTFY.

    (Come on! If you're going to bitch about the passive voice, at least do it using the passive voice to conceal your general grammatical ignorance!)



  •  Ehem, the passive transformation does not affect the complement but only the verbs from the same (matrix) clause as the subject (that can disappear) and the object (which becomes the new subject). Since there is no nominal object, the closest is probably: The only reason for the passive voice to be used is if it has been tried to hide something, which is, erm, plain ugly.



  • The passive voice is like irony. The number of people who don't understand it is only exceeded by the number of people complaing that you aren't using it properly.


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