Frequently asked questions about grammar proofing in Word

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Article ID: 290943 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q290943
For a Microsoft Word 2000 version of this article, see 211519.
For a Microsoft Word 98 version of this article, see 181863.
For a Microsoft Word 97 version of this article, see 167655.
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SUMMARY

This article answers the more frequently asked questions about the grammar proofing tool in Microsoft Office Word 2007, in Microsoft Office Word 2003, and in Microsoft Word 2002.

MORE INFORMATION

  1. What does it mean that Word has a "natural language" grammar proofing tool?

    The grammar proofing tool in Word performs a comprehensive and accurate analysis (also known as "parsing") of the submitted text, instead of just using a series of heuristics (or pattern matching) to flag errors. The grammar proofing tool analyzes text at a syntactical level and at a deeper, logical level, to understand the relationship between the actions and the people or things that are performing those actions. For example, the Word grammar proofing tool analyzes the following complex sentence
    The legend says that that Kingdom was created by three ancient magicians, whose magical powers governed the world and made them immortal and all-powerful.
    and rewrites it from the passive voice to the active voice for clarity. The grammar proofing tool also sets off the relative clause between commas:
    The legend says that three ancient magicians, whose magical powers governed the world and made them immortal and all-powerful, created that Kingdom.
    Note This functionality is not turned on by default. To turn on this functionality, follow these steps:
    1. Start Word.
    2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
    3. On the Spelling & Grammar tab, in the Grammar area, change the Writing style box to Grammar & Style.
    4. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.
  2. Who developed the Word grammar proofing tool?

    The grammar proofing tool is fully developed and owned by Microsoft.
  3. What are the key differences between the Word grammar proofing tool and other grammar-proofing solutions by third-party vendors?

    One of the key differences between the Word grammar proofing tool and other grammar proofing solutions is that the grammar proofing tool in Word uses advanced parsing techniques to understand the sentence structure. Third-party grammar proofing solutions may rely mainly on "pattern matching". "Pattern matching" means that the program uses a technique that matches the checked text against patterns of text that are stored in an internal database.
  4. What are the file names of the grammar proofing tool files, and where are they installed?

    The Word Setup program installs the grammar proofing tool by default. The English (United States) grammar proofing tool comprises two files:
    • Msgr3en.dll installed in the following folder:
      Drive:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof\1033
    • Msgr3en.lex installed in the following folder:
      Drive:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof\
  5. How much memory does my computer need to allow Word to check the grammar in my document as I type?

    Word turns on the grammar proofing tool automatically if your computer has sufficient available memory. The method of grammar checking that is turned on when you set up and first start Word depends on the amount of available memory on your computer.

    Manually Use the Grammar Proofing Tool (8 MB or More):

    To run the grammar proofing tool when you click Spelling and Grammar on the Tools menu, your computer must have more than 8 megabytes (MB) physical RAM. If you have less than 8 MB, the Check grammar as you type feature is turned off by default when you first start Word.

    Automatically Use the Grammar Proofing Tool (12 MB or More):

    To run the Check grammar as you type option constantly (to display grammatical errors with wavy underlines), your computer must have at least 12 MB of physical RAM. If your computer has less than 12 MB of RAM, the Hide Grammatical Errors check box is selected when you first start Word.

    To turn on Check grammar as you type, point to Options on the Tools menu, click the Spelling & Grammar tab, and then click to select the Check grammar as you type check box.

    Note For all Western European languages other than English, the Check grammar as you type option is turned off by default. (The English grammar proofing tool is included with all versions of Word.)
  6. Where are the registry entries for the grammar proofing tool?

    Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

    Grammar Settings Per User:

    Note Word creates this setting if the setting does not exist in the Windows registry:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Proofing Tools\Grammar\MSGrammar
    Under this subkey, Word registers the grammar version number (3.0 in the case of English), the language IDs (1033 in the case of U.S. English), and the grammar settings that you choose on the Spelling and Grammar tab in the Options dialog box (Tools menu). In Word, you can select two writing styles on the Spelling and Grammar tab: Grammar and Style or Grammar only. These options are defined in the Name entries in the Option Set 0 subkey and the Option Set 1 subkey. For each of these options, you can also set rules that Word uses to check grammar. To set these rules, click Settings on the Spelling and Grammar tab. These settings are also stored as binary instructions in the Data entries in the Option Set 0 subkey and the Option Set 1 subkey.

    Note If you upgraded from an earlier version of Word, Name entries will be defined as casual, standard, formal, technical, or custom, rather than as Grammar and Style or Grammar only. In this case, the registry will have Option Set 0 through Option Set 4 subkeys, which correspond to each of these writing styles.

    Grammar Machine Settings:

    Note This setting must exist to check grammar in a specific language.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Proofing Tools\Grammar
    Under this key are the language IDs (1033, 2057, 3081), the Normal style attributes, and the values Dictionary and Engine, which contain respectively the fully qualified paths to the .lex and .dll files.

    Note Not all language grammar proofing files auto-register after you copy the grammar files to a specific location. Therefore, it is always advisable to use the Setup program to install the grammar proofing files (and other proofing tools).
  7. Why does the grammar proofing tool flag words that should not be flagged, and why does it provide suggestions that are incorrect?

    In general, the grammar proofing tool incorrectly marks words or proposes incorrect suggestions when the parser (that is, the grammar proofing component that analyzes the linguistic structure of a sentence) cannot determine the correct structure of the analyzed sentence.

    Although state-of-the-art in its category, the grammar proofing tool (just like any other commercially available grammar proofing program) is not perfect. Therefore, when you use the grammar proofing tool, you may experience some amount of "false" or "suspect" flagging and subsequent wrong suggestions; however, the grammar proofing tool in Word 2002 and later versions is vastly improved over earlier versions of Microsoft Word.
  8. Why can't the grammar proofing tool spot mistakes in the phrase "We went two too stores, to . . ."?

    The grammar proofing tool is designed to catch the kinds of errors that ordinary users make every day. You can always make up sentences that may confuse the grammar proofing tool.
  9. When the grammar proofing tool is running in the background (wavy underlines), why does it flag errors in a different order than when I click Spelling and Grammar on the Tools menu?

    When you click Spelling and Grammar on the Tools menu, the grammar proofing tool runs in the foreground and has control in the document. That is, you cannot work in your document while the grammar proofing tool is checking your document.

    However, when the grammar proofing tool is running in the background (wavy underlines), it is trying to achieve a logical left-to-right flow and is not as critical of the sentence structure as it is when you run the grammar proofing tool manually (in the foreground). Therefore, when the grammar proof tool is running in the background, the error that is marked first is always the one that returns a suggestion, regardless of its position in the sentence.
  10. Why does "Ignore All" not work as I expect it to?

    For example, if I click Ignore All for this sentence, which is labeled as a fragment
    After serving lunch.
    in the same proofing session, the grammar proofing tool stops on other sentences that are also labeled as fragments, for example:
    Over my dead body.
    The grammar proofing tool categorizes (internally) these two sentences as different types of fragments. In these examples, the grammar proofing tool is ignoring one of those types, but not the other. Thus the apparent inconsistency in how Ignore All works.
  11. Why aren't mistakes flagged in left-to-right sequence?

    In most cases, the grammar proofing tool tries to flag errors from left-to-right. In some cases, this is not possible because the grammar proofing tool wants you to correct the most logical mistake first (this mistake may not be the first mistake). In this case, punctuation or spacing mistakes are flagged before specific or confined grammar errors.
  12. Why are some passive sentences flagged and suggested to be rewritten, and others are skipped?

    Note This problem occurs with other rules in addition to the Passive-construction rule.

    For example, the following passive sentence is not flagged:
    The term of this Agreement shall commence on the Effective Date and shall continue until terminated by Volcano Coffee in writing at any time, with or without cause.
    For certain types of sentences, when there is no clear syntactic subject, the grammar proofing tool does not attempt to flag the sentence.
  13. When I right-click a grammar error (an error marked with a wavy underline), why doesn't the shortcut menu display the same options that are available in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box?

    For example, if an item is flagged and the grammar proofing tool does not provide a suggestion, the only options available are to ignore the sentence (and possibly miss other errors in that sentence) or to click the Grammar command to invoke the Spelling and Grammar dialog box.

    For the background mode (wavy underlines), the grammar proofing tool uses a simplified interface. If you want to view all the possible errors in a sentence, you must click Grammar on the shortcut menu.
  14. Why do some pairs of words that are commonly confused work in one direction only?

    For example, in the grammar proofing tool, both "flea" and "flee" are flagged as commonly confused words, but with the pair "your" and "you're", only the word "your" is flagged as a commonly confused word.

    The grammar proofing tool handles some commonly confused word pairs in a uni-directional way to simplify the problem for the parser. The grammar proofing tool was designed this way to reduce the number of items that are flagged by the grammar proofing tool but that are not true grammatical errors.
  15. When a sentence is flagged as being too long, why is that the only advice given for the sentence?

    Long sentences are often difficult to read, both for people and for the grammar proofing tool. The grammar proofing tool is not sophisticated enough to detect grammatical errors in long sentences. If you are in doubt about the grammatical accuracy of a long sentence, you should break it up into smaller sentences.
  16. Why does the check proofing tool ignore text that is enclosed in quotation marks?

    The grammar proofing tool assumes that text in a direct quotation should not be critiqued.
  17. Why does the grammar proofing tool ignore text in subdocuments, such as headers, footers, and annotations?

    By design, the grammar proofing tool does not analyze text in headers, footers, or annotations. Headers and footers typically do not contain complete sentences. Similarly, annotations may be written in sentence fragments and are not suitable for grammar proofing.
  18. Why can't I change the grammar and writing style option defaults, such as the sentence length?

    These defaults are built-in to the grammar and writing style. The grammar and writing style defaults that are built-in include:
    • Length of long sentence
    • Successive nouns
    • Successive prepositional phrases
    • Words in split infinitives
    The following table lists the specific values for the built-in grammar and writing style defaults.
    
       Style Option                             Built-in Setting
       ---------------------------------------------------------
    
       Length of long sentence                  60 words
    
       Successive nouns                         more than 3
    
       Successive prepositional phrases         more than 3
    
       Words in split infinitives               more than 1
    
    					
  19. What do the grammar statistics mean?

    When Microsoft Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it can display information about the reading level of the document, including the readability scores (see Question 20). Each readability score bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.

    Text is rated on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70.
  20. What formulas are these statistics based on?

    Flesch Reading Ease score

    The formula for the Flesch Reading Ease score is:
    206.835 - (1.015 x ASL) - (84.6 x ASW)
    where:

    ASL = average sentence length (the number of words divided by the number of sentences)

    ASW = average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)

    Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score

    The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score rates text on a U.S. grade-school level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

    The formula for the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score is:
    (.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) - 15.59
    where:

    ASL = average sentence length (the number of words divided by the number of sentences)

    ASW = average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)
  21. Who uses these reading standards?

    Various government agencies require that specific documents or forms meet specific readability standards. For example, some states require insurance forms to have a specified readability score.
  22. How many words and phrases are in the grammar dictionary?

    The grammar dictionary includes approximately 99,000 words and phrases in their uninflected form. (That is, this number does not include words such as "went", "children", and so on, which are the inflected forms of "go" and "child".)
  23. What is the grammar dictionary based on?

    It is based on the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, third edition.
  24. How is the English grammar proofing tool different if I run it on U.K. English text versus U.S. English?

    The difference between proofing U.K. English text and U.S. English text is primarily in the spelling variances between the two languages. For example, "colour" as opposed to "color." These variances do not have any effect on grammar.

    Most of the grammar rules apply to all English text (U.S. and U.K.). However, a few grammar rules differ, depending on the selected language:
    • Plural premodifiers that are very commonly used in U.K. English are not flagged for U.K. English but are for U.S. English.
    • Subject-verb agreement with collective nouns, where the verb is used in the plural form, are not flagged in U.K. English but are flagged in U.S. English. See the following example:
    The team are planning to mobilize soon.
  25. Why don't some of the explanations seem to be related to the flagged mistake?

    For example, in the sentence
    Lets go home now.
    the explanation in the grammar proofing tool does not mention specifically the confusable pair lets/let's.

    The grammar explanations are intended to cover the most general cases within each rule, in order to avoid crowding the screen text.

Properties

Article ID: 290943 - Last Review: January 24, 2007 - Revision: 4.1
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Office Word 2007
  • Microsoft Office Word 2003
  • Microsoft Word 2002 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
kbdta kbfaq kbhowto kbproof KB290943

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