As content writers, we are expected to write great write-ups, and by that, I mean something that holds value, depth, and originality. While passing all the SEO parameters with flying colors is another vital aspect of writing content for the internet, the foundation is still built upon proper usage of grammar.
The only exception, in this case, is when writers, through these nuances, build an argument that grammar for content writers is an overstated concept. Every writer wants their own personal proofreader these days, or that’s what any popular grammar checking tool would likely advertise to you.
But do you think it’s actually a real person checking your work?
Or just another computer software?
While I totally agree with Stefanie Flaxman about how insulting these tools are to the craft of writing, many of my fellow writers would simply disagree. The fact still remains the same that using good grammar won’t necessarily make you a great content marketer.
While focusing on correcting the mistakes that these plugins inform us about, what we fail to realize is that we eventually end up with an avalanche of mediocre content.
And the problem with mediocre content is that it’s just so boring that nobody is probably going to read it.
These days, everyone hoping to write in the future thinks they can become a content writer as these grammar tools are here to help.
Well here’s a reality check! If you keep relying on these tools without actually learning language rules to become a better writer or editor, then the results will definitely be thoroughly disappointing.
Let’s learn more about why these online tools are quite superficial and not strategic.
Errors Run Rampant Despite Grammar-Checking Tools
Have you ever proofread a blog after running it through grammar-checking tools?
If you haven’t, you’re in for a surprise.
Despite run-checks, you are most likely to find errors in your write-up. To put things into perspective, here’s an example.
If you pay attention to the content written above, you will notice one thing clearly
The usage of the word “personnel.”
Personnel means workforce, labor, or employees, and it clearly doesn’t fit the sentence written above.
The use of the word “personnel” instead of “personal” shows how oblivious grammar and spell-check tools make us.
Here’s another example that will help you see how grammar tools are not always effective.
I copy-pasted the same text to see whether Grammarly will correct the problem.
Interestingly, it did not, and you can clearly see it here.
This means that autocorrect features in Word and Google docs may help you instantly correct typing errors and small grammar mistakes, but slip-ups are bound to occur if you don’t pay attention to what you’re writing.
The good news is, you can proofread your copy manually. This does not necessarily mean that you have to go back to classroom sessions to get your grammar on point.
You have to closely pay attention to the suggestions given by these plug-ins and combine your knowledge to see what is wrong and right. Sometimes the tool will be right but it doesn’t help much in the long run.
Grammar Tools Rely on Various Tests and Programs
Unless you’re a grammar geek, you will never pay attention to seamlessly flowing errors in your copy. In particular, errors that grammar tools fail to identify.
But, of course, like all things, these tools are designed and programmed in a certain way. And anyone who writes regularly knows that spell checker and grammar tools screw up all the time.
This is why you need to understand that these tools work with algorithms. The quality of your copy primarily depends on the patterns it can match consistently with the programs running at the backend.
So-called grammar and spell checkers know very little of the grammar world.
Moreover, these tools and apps cannot find mistakes because they do not understand the writer’s intent the way readers can. Actually they don’t really understand the language at all.
For instance, in the example given below, no red, yellow, or blue lines appear. This means that according to this tool, the copy is good to go.
However, on reading the write-up manually, I came across one typing error. I was supposed to write “harm” and not “hem” in the copy. Had I been dependent on the grammar checking app, the readers would have remained confused.
What all grammar checkers do, therefore, is not analyze the meaning behind a sentence. They only match patterns with an existing algorithm. The reason why errors run rampant in your write-up.
Not only this but grammar plug-ins contain a long list of words and grammar terms that constitute mistakes. The autocorrect and grammar plug-ins look for these patterns, and so are incapable of understanding the writer’s intent.
Also, this doesn’t mean that you should be immune to making errors.
We all make mistakes and learn from them. The point here is to scan your copy both manually and with the help of automated tools.
The idea is to get the best of both worlds!
Standard Spell Checkers Fail to Catch Commonly Misused Words
Let’s face it,
Almost every program designed for writing comes with an in-built spell check and grammar correction tool.
Unfortunately, those who rely on these tools too heavily will face the brunt eventually. As we all know, properly structured content makes your brand look more credible in the eyes of the readers and potential clients.
The problem with these tools is that they do not take the correctness of a sentence into account. They only flag the misspelled words. For example,
“Spell check will not identify the words used incorrectly but spelled rite.”
That said, below is a list of examples that reveal why you should not trust spell checks blindly:
- Spell checks will never help you in case of proper names, such as Mary Heston or Nancy Clausen
- Spell check tools will not detect the incorrect use of homonyms, such as “cite” and “site”
- Sometimes they will flag correct words and test your knowledge
- For severely misspelled words you will not receive proper suggestions.
- Words like loose/lose, dessert/desert, their/there, while/vile, vest/west, etc. are most likely to be missed by spell checkers or grammar tools.
All in all, yes, engineered and programmed grammar tools provide writing assistance.
They may help you pass the first step. However, writers and marketers should remain cautioned. Every error introduced through automated plug-ins is only the first step to editing, not the last.
Grammar Checks May Turn Perfect Sentences Into Bad
Grammar tools have limitations. All thanks to the vast sea of grammar rules.
The nature of grammar often leaves us wondering whether applied rules are correct or not. So, it is not fair to blame the algorithmically designed tools. What’s fair? To r double check the doubts you have and go back and forth to re-memorize the rules you might have forgotten.
In the light of the above-stated narrative, look at the example given below.
In this example, a traditional grammar checker will tell you that the sentence in the passage contains passive use misuse.
“Thinking it was closed, the door was actually open.”
The problem here is that according to grammar, verbs have two categories:
- Passive verbs
- Active verbs
The main clause may contain a verb but the sentence is not passive. It’s a simple reference to a door that was either closed or open.
In addition to this, grammar tools sometimes also read properly structured sentences as poorly written. Interestingly, this is where the main problem lies. Take another sentence as an example,
“How was your daughter’s birthday?”
When you run it through grammar tools, some will show that the sentence has no issue while others will suggest text inconsistencies.
In other words, “your daughter was’s” is the correct usage.
As a result, the grammar plug-in has turned a perfect sentence into a twisted mess.
The reason why you have to always double-check and proofread your document before blindly making changes.
Also, if you accept the suggestion, slowly and steadily, you will start losing a sense of the rules that you already know. You will get into the habit of trusting machines over your mind.
Yes, technology saves a lot of time and helps us become efficient. While some writers think that grammar plug-ins can do wonders for them and improve the quality of a copy, these tools still lack proficiency.
You should not forget that old-fashioned proofreading skills will help you strengthen your writing skills. It’s good for the long run and builds your brand’s credibility in the online market. After all, it’s most unlikely for a client to be impressed by poorly written marketing copies.
Of course, you can take the help of grammar apps and tools. However, always edit the copy without blindly following automated suggestions.
One of the best things to do is make a list of errors you make frequently. This way, you can proofread the copy quickly and pay special attention to the recurring problem areas.
Moreover, always keep in mind that once the job of grammar and spell-check tool finishes, your job begins!
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