5 reasons to stop relying on grammar checkers

Leaning too much on technology can weaken your writing and editing muscles and prevent you from mastering the basics.

Writers today have a plethora of tools to help get the right words onto the page.

Proofreading software and grammar checkers—those blessed gifts from above that highlight embarrassing errors and silly mistakes—are wonderful aids, but they are far from comprehensive.

If you rely on your proofreading software too much, here are five reasons to reconsider:

1. Grammar checkers go strictly by the book.

Grammar checkers or proofreaders are software programs that understand the binary code version of whichever grammar rulebook was consulted in the development process.

Writing is not math. Language is flexible and subject to change— as are the rulebooks that we adhere to.

2. Grammar checkers are outdated.

Did you know that Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 words to its dictionary last year?

What a term means today might be radically different from what it meant 20 years ago. Plus, new words and slang are created just about every day.

3. What you wrote is not what you meant.

Many proofreading programs are unable to distinguish between similar terms such as effect and affect, or every day and everyday—and forget about correcting misplaced commas. Most also have a tough time catching nitpicky grammatical issues. Word’s spell checker is blissfully unaware of the following glaring errors:

  • You going to be sorry if you miss the party.
  • Washington is comprised of several fine counties.
  • Piece be with you.
  • She shows such love and infection.
  • He is a person that wants to achieve greatness.

4. Too much tech can make you lazy.

Relying on proofreading software can prevent your growth and lull you into sloppy habits.

Working without a net, so to speak, forces you to read and edit more carefully. If you rely on technology to catch grammatical errors, why bother to learn the rules yourself? Tech reliance can cause your writing and editing muscles to atrophy.

5. Editing programs often replace the human touch.

A fresh pair of human eyes has more proofing power than any software available today.

It’s amazing what technology can do, but human intuition, nuance, humor, context and experience can improve any piece.

Proofreading programs certainly are useful, but software shouldn’t be used at the expense of human review.

Lucy Miller is a writer for Mind Your Zen.

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