View Full Version : Grammar Check

09-17-2004, 07:26 AM
I run Open Office off of a Linux OS and don't have a bloody Grammar Check program. I am plagued by comma vomititis and would love the support of a grammar program. While I don't expect it to do much, a little help is better than none! Do you have any idea if there are any programs that run off of Linux and are either Open Source or don't cost a mint?

09-17-2004, 09:24 AM
Buy a book and learn the rules. Grammar checks are rarely much help, and fairly frequently their suggestions are dead wrong.

09-17-2004, 10:37 AM
Your question is worthy of an answer.

Have you checked out Grammatik?

Another idea, if your software does it, is to use a search and highlight feature. I do so in Word to get a count an visual of how often I use a word or phrase.

If you did this with commas, they'd all be yellow and you could scroll through you doc and see the patterns of sentences where you're using commas.

Good luck.

09-17-2004, 04:38 PM
I didn't realize Word had that capability. Would you let me know how you highlight a word to see how many times you use it in a text? I know I've caught myself using certain words OVER and OVER and OVER. I know that's one thing that can drive an editor over the edge. (Among many others, I sure.)

Writing Again
09-17-2004, 06:15 PM
Grammar checkers tend to nag you about unimportant trivia and ignore the issues that really concern a writer. By the way I use Open Office myself. Love it.

While grammar checkers complain and whine if your sentence exceeds a certain word length, no matter how perfectly crafted, they don't notice a run on sentence of any length. My first drafts are always filled with run ons. A run on can be five words long, by the way. They scream about sentence fragments, which I have always used delibrately, but totally miss the subjunctive. ( "If I were," not "If I was,")

I'm 107 and 1/2 percent with Ravenlocks on this one. You don't have to be a master grammarian to be a writer, but it is part of your job as a writer to have a firm grasp of the principles.

09-17-2004, 06:45 PM
Grammar check programs are far from perfect, but can be very useful, if used properly, and I wouldn't be without one. Bad grammar and punctuation can cause rejection. Quickly.

It all depends on the Linux program you're running. WordPerfect runs on some Linux, and so does Word.

Personally, I think the best Linux OS out there right now is Xandros. The pro version costs $129, if I remember correctly, and it runs crossover office, so you can use Word.

But the best idea is not to depend on a grammar check program. Grammar check programs are most useful to those who don't need them, and horrible for those who depend on them.

Far better is to sit down and learn the rules yourself. A writer who doesn't know grammar is like a carpenter who doesn't know how to use a hammer.

Coomas aren't that complicated, and there's no excuse for not learning how to use them properly. Pick up a couple of good grammar and style books, then sit down and study them until you don't need the very limited help a grammar check can give in this area.

Better yet, go buy a seventh grade English book. It will contain everything a fiction writer needs to know about grammar and punctuation, written in a way seventh graders can understand. It really does make the task easier.

09-18-2004, 07:10 AM
Daily Grammar, an online grammar program is very good, you get a daily lesson in your e-mail to do, or you can go to the site and go through all the lessons. It's a simple course and will help a lot.

An easy to understand grammar handbook, Grammar for Dummies

Myself, I use grammar checkers to find passive voice mostly.


09-18-2004, 09:57 AM
James and SR, thanks for the useful and surprising info.

To highlight all instances of a word in your doc, in MS Word, do,
Edit, Find, type the word you're searching for in Find What:, check the box for "Highlight all items found in" on the lower left. In the drop list under that select Main Document, click ok.

If you search for "only" (w/o the quotes) in this manner, all instances of that word will turn yellow, and a count will show below the box where you entered "only".

If you want to torture yourself, I suggest a search for "ly". (Adverbs.) Then make yourself feel better by performing the same search on a well-know author's writing.

I've found this tool invaluable for evaluating my grammar, syntax, and use of words.

09-19-2004, 09:51 PM
I just checked my program and it doesn't highlight! Grrr! I like the idea of being able to highlight though. I'm certain that once I have commas jumping out at me; I'll be to ax the ones that don't belong.
Thank you all for your tips.

09-19-2004, 11:46 PM
Dear NC,
Get yourself a marker and make a small dot under each comma on 2 or 3 pages or your writing.

Spread out the pages, and look at them from a few feet away. Then scrutinize more closely.

You'll see a pattern and rythm to your writing.

Don't eschew your comma use. I bet there is info there about your unique style. I'm not kidding--you may be overusing commas, and this can slow the reader. It's worth your while to understand what it is you're trying to convey, and why. Then learn a more useful way of conveying it.

One can write very long sentences with no punctuation, with no ands. Try it.

Feel free to give us an sample of one of your fave many-comma'd passages. We can play with it.

p.s. Daily Grammar no longer provides daily service, but you can view the archives. DG (http://www.dailygrammar.com/)

09-21-2004, 11:50 PM
Thank you! Excellent advice!
I'm reading Self- Editing for Fiction Writers as well as a few other books on grammar right now, and each time I look at my manuscript I realize it isn't as bad as I had originally thought. I DO have a certain pattern to my punctuation overuse though and am grateful that you suggested matching up the pages!! Pure Genius!

09-22-2004, 05:16 AM
Grammar check is something I use, but barely follow when advice is proferred. After all, it keeps highlighting EVERY SINGLE sentence fragment without an appropriate predicate or subject. This gets to be a problem when you've got characters talking colloquially, because real people often don't speak with perfect grammar.

09-22-2004, 09:40 AM
Grammar check needs to be set for the way fiction writers write before using one. There are all sorts of options on what you want it to check, and what you want it to ignore.

It can be set to ignore sentence fragments, and all sorts of other things.

WordPerfect has more options that Word, but Word has plenty. Many of the problems people have with grammar check comes because they don't bother going through the option list and setting grammar check for the way they write.