We hesitate to bring this up, having made more than our share of grammatical mistakes and typos over the years. (Heck, over the past week.) But here’s a situation that Microsoft’s marketers should probably turn into an ad for Microsoft Word.

Larry Page

A post last week by Google CEO Larry Page on Google+, highlighting the events at the Google I/O conference, includes this line: “There also we be some other great keynotes beginning at 10am on the same page.”

Of course, Page meant to write, “There also will be some other great keynotes beginning at 10am on the same page.”

No, it’s not the worst mistake anyone has ever made, and all but the most attentive grammar cops probably read right past it.

But the interesting thing is that Microsoft Word’s grammar checker would have alerted him to the problem, flagging the sentence for improper subject-verb agreement. Word’s suggested solution wasn’t quite on the mark, as you can see in the screen capture above, but hey, at least he would have known to fix it.

We ran the same sentence through Google Docs, which doesn’t see anything wrong with it at all. That’s because Google Docs has built-in spell check, but not grammar check.

Either that, or the algorithm knows it’s never smart to correct the CEO over something so trivial.

Comments

  • Forreals?

    slow news to no news…

  • jp

    I hesitate to bring this up, but whoever wrote this post is an idiot.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Wow, brutal! :) I guess you guys aren’t fans of lighthearted holiday fare. Noted.

      • Victor

        This is stupid to point out and a real stretch. We are talking about Google+, which isn’t different than IM, Twitter, Facebook and other casual platform where you don’t bother to spell or gramar correct. If you try to enforce MS Word type of “correctness”, then how will it live with hashtags and other other types of new forms of expression?

        • Justin

          I’m with Victor here, you shouldn’t have disgraced yourself by stooping to trolling your readers with an article about what essentially amounts to using a full blown word processor for a tweet. Albeit an rather long example of one. He probably wrote it from his phone anyhow.
          Grammar checking. Seriously.

          • Dave

            I long for the day when people like you who comment on blog entries simply to point out that they’re trivial and “not news” finally get over themselves and leave their virtual mouths shut.

          • https://plus.google.com/111682818223525948069/posts Muntoo Meddler

            Obviously, you are a saint.

      • Rocks & Gravel

        I liked the post and feel that grammar is an important indicator of the quality of one’s message. If you’re too lazy to proofread your work, why should I suffer having to make sense of your message?

    • guest

      Agree with Victor and Justin below, but hey, no need to be an asshole.

  • guest

    This is Google+… you don’t write posts on it using a word processor. Lame post.

  • Joter

    Geekwire will always be nothing but a minor league player with journalistic talent like this :(

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    Is it hard hitting news like the aQuantive write-down?

    No, but it wasn’t intended to be either.

    But I think it’s a fair (lighthearted) point. Google is positioning Google Docs as a replacement for Microsoft Office. And Google Plus using Google Docs as its engine (the way Outlook uses Word as its) is a reasonable expectation in an era of bundled productivity services. And the fact that Google Docs totally missed this where Word picked it up is a fair point (I didn’t realize until this that there was a comparative difference there).

    So I got some new information out of this story.

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

      To be fair, grammar checking systems are generally quite awful at detecting and correcting. It’s often better to just proofread it yourself. I’ve seen more than a few schools now allow Google Docs for group project reports instead of Word because Google Docs lacks a grammar checker.

      • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

        Interesting on the schools point.

        It’s not perfect but it does sometimes find things that I missed.

        Of course, we’re all ignoring the problem elephant in the room: context-less spell checking which leads to plenty of correctly spelled words but in the wrong context (Their/They’re).

        • David Carrington

          So very true, Christopher.

  • Christan

    You chose to write about this instead of the Higgs-Boson? Wow.

  • Dracono

    Not taking a swing at Gekkwire(*wink*), but the Internet in general is full of grammar and spelling Nazis that have nothing better to do than peer review your work. It’s been great, who needs MS Word when you can just post your content on-line and check back shortly to find all the required corrections needed thanks to the abundance of free crowdsourcing; there is a business plan somewhere here folks!

    Now if only I could apply this to washing & waxing my car. ;)

    • Kimot

      Grammar and spelling Nazis? How does calling someone out for semi-literate writing make one a murderous fascist? It is no different than criticizing poorly written code. As with with spaghetti code, a poor writing style denotes a lack of education, low intelligence or laziness.

      • Tomik

        Poorly written spaghetti code? How does calling out some piece of code for being poorly-written make it a tasty dinner treat to be served with meatballs and sauce? It’s no different than criticizing grammar and spelling Nazis. As with National Socialism, a poor coding style denotes a lack of edumacation, low intell1gence or lazynss.

        • r00t

          Spaghetti Nazis? No spaghetti for YOU!

          • https://plus.google.com/111682818223525948069/posts Muntoo Meddler

            Come back tomorrow!

  • Bill Bob

    Grammar-schammer. Will MS Word ever be able to understand i’m trying to spell “apostrophe”?

    Google always understands my dyslexic misspellings, MS World usually does not.

  • guest

    Microsoft has marketers? Wow, learn something new every day.

  • Janice Templer

    All too often in tech,
    products are promoted and sold as equal to competition when they are nothing
    of the sort. Google Docs is sold as an equivalent to Office. It isn’t. This is a
    relevant article in pointing out the fraud that Google perpetuates on the
    knowledge worker.

    I rue the day my idiot CIO decides that Google Docs is better
    for our company.

  • Adam F

    A few grammer/spelling errors give prove that the exec actually wrote the post; not the P/R dept.

    • Matt Q

      Grammar, not grammer. Geeze…

      • https://plus.google.com/111682818223525948069/posts Muntoo Meddler

        *Geez

        • Brian

          *You’re

          • Mikee

            ‘Sentence fragment’ is also a sentence fragment.

    • a guy

      “give proof” not “give prove”

      And the beat goes on…

  • Fo’ Realz

    Once I accomplish what Larry Page has, I will be worthy to attach him for his typos.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Pizzalo/100003194415404 Mike Pizzalo

    The fact is that even Microsoft’s online Web Word app (at least the one available through the paid Office 365 subscription) doesn’t correct grammar, either. I tested out this same sentence online. No error was reported. Perhaps it is just a wee bit unfair to compare the online Google Docs app to the desktop Word instead of the Web Word – even the Web Word that costs $$. Cloud to cloud – not much difference. Larry would have been screwed either way.

  • http://twitter.com/HighwayofLife David Lewis

    And how does Microsoft Word help when you’re posting something through a browser?

    • John

      Office is available via web-apps

      • https://plus.google.com/111682818223525948069/posts Muntoo Meddler

        Right, next time I want to share a Google+ post, I am going to go type it up in the web version of Office which doesn’t even do grammar check in the first place. Maybe it’s just that these things are more noticed on Google+ than on Facebook, since, y’know, Google+ posts tend to be of higher quality and more substantial than Facebook “lik dis if u cry evrtim”.

    • Truman

      Anything I do that will reflect on my professional life I type in word first. Email/ IM to coworker(s), linkedin, web content. It doesn’t take long to type in word and copy and paste, heck if its going to be seen by more than 3 people I might even have a coworker read it over before postingsending.

  • swattz101

    I notice quite often, if I am typing a post on mobile, it will substitute words that it thinks I am typing instead of what I want. Sometimes I even need to go back and correct the spelling when my mobile thinks it know better than I do. Other times, I will go back hours later and notice that the spelling/grammer is wrong. I have less issues with spelling/grammer errors in quick social media posts than if it was a blog post that should have been edited and corrected.

  • jonaton

    The whole point of Google Docs is to make something that’s accessible from entirely new environments, by being willing to sacrifice 100% feature compatibility with the old way.

    Of course, Microsoft Word was exactly the same way: it’s a rather lousy editor, and really lousy typesetter. (I admittedly don’t know how its grammar checker is, but I would be very surprised if it was best-of-class, especially given the above demonstration.) But it runs on any PC in the world, and has a half-decent GUI, which is a lot more than could be said for most of its predecessors or contemporaries.

    It made some sacrifices to bring document editing to the PC in a huge way, in the same way that Google Docs made sacrifices to bring document editing to the web.

    Frankly, I think Word has a lot more to be embarrassed about than Docs here. In the screenshots here, Word is even worse at line-breaking than Google Docs / Google Chrome, somehow, which is kind of amazing in its badness. The line-breaking algorithm is so bad it’s even more noticeable than the grammar mistake!

    There are two big reasons this hurts so much. First, grammar-checking is a really hard problem, while line-breaking is a relatively easy one, with many free algorithms that are pretty good. (Adobe was smart enough to steal one of the good free algorithms for InDesign.) Second, if you lack a grammar checker, you aren’t limited in what you can produce: it just means you have to be a bit more careful. If you lack a decent line-breaking algorithm, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to make a good-looking document.

  • Mark

    He didn’t make a grammar mistake; he made a typo. We all know what he meant to write.

  • Mikee

    “We hesitate to bring this up”

    You should have stopped the post at that point.

  • a guy

    A single typo to justify the cost of a $300+ program?

    I call BS.

  • briesmith

    For me, what this article highlights is the need for a grammar
    checker that works and is actually a help. I have never used MS Word’s grammar
    checking feature because it is so poor.
    Also, while we’re on the
    topic of grammar; will American writers ever agree that their use of
    “than” with all the many and various forms of “differ” is ugly?
    “Than” doesn’t
    convey the sense of separateness that “from” does and while OK in
    many constructions just isn’t right where that sense of being apart from
    something else is required in order to get the full sense of what is being said
    across.

    Let’s hear it for the
    occasional “differs from”?

  • hamishniven

    He should just have a proof reader for his blogs or press releases, kinda essential really….

  • zanzibar27

    I’m quite sure if Larry had been writing this with a desktop app he’d be using LibreOffice Writer. (His desktop probably runs Linux too, NOT Windows… lol.) It was probably written on the web as others pointed out anyway.

  • Guest

    Who writes blog posts in Word?

  • Jane Bagel

    Larry’s first language isn’t English.

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