Beware of Word!

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Today I was working on an article for one of my clients and I wrote:

I'll be happy to give you a list of mortgage lenders here in (city) who have served my clients well in the past.

And Word objected. 

Now, we copywriters always try to avoid that pasive/past tense, but sometimes it's necessary. It's what fits. At the same time, we often break the rules of grammar that we learned back in elementary school - because breaking those rules makes the copy sound conversational. 

However, a passive voice or conversational tone was not the problem that Word wanted me to correct. Instead, that automated program wanted me to change the sentence to say "HAS served my clients..."

"Lenders who has served... " I wonder how long I'd be working for that client if I started writing things like that. Hopefully, not long.

The bottom line: Don't rely on spell check and grammar check, because they will often lead you astray.

If you aren't sure about grammar and word usage, enlist help from someone who is. I know it must be very difficult for everyone who is using English as a second language, and you have my admiration for even trying. But the key to success is in knowing what you don't know and getting help from someone who does - not from Word.

 


 

 

 

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Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Marte -- Word was trying to match the tense of the verb to its perceived subject - "list" since it saw the "mortgage lenders" as objects of the preposition.   You are right to warn people to beware of "suggestions" that Word makes, and when it is trying to autospell things for you it can get really problematic.

Jan 18, 2012 08:45 AM #1
Rainmaker
4,992,154
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Hi Marte....I agree with you....beware of Word....it makes errors....

Jan 18, 2012 09:47 AM #2
Rainer
206,584
Marge Piwowarski
Phoenix AZ Horse Property - Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC

If word is bad, smart phones are a nightmare.  They try to help but occasionally I don't catch a word it changes to something else altogether and send a message that sounds dumber than I do.  Usually. 

Jan 18, 2012 03:20 PM #3
Rainmaker
716,358
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Word is not the final "word".  When I was in the lab we had a  lot of Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern students and fellows.  They always ran their publications by me because they tended to make mistakes and then blindly obey what the word processing program told them.  That led to a lot of strange mistakes in science.

Jan 18, 2012 03:38 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,537,488
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Steven - I think you're right about why Word was giving me wrong information. And as for autospell, it's probably why people write "reign in" when they mean "rein in." As smart as computers are, they can't read your mind and know what you're talking about.

Barbara - And sometimes they're doozies.

Marge - Since I don't own a smart phone, I haven't had to deal with that one. But I've sure seen a lot of people apologizing for the "smart" changes they make.

Ruthmarie - It must be absolutely frustrating to try to learn English and then have some computer program giving you wrong information on top of it. Lucky for those students and fellows that they had you to turn to.

Jan 18, 2012 04:08 PM #5
Rainer
255,399
Mary Stewart
HomeTrust Real Estate, LLC, Homes for Everyone - Wilsonville, OR
Wilsonville and Surrounding Portland Metro Areas

Marte I have found that spell checks are not always accurate and when Word wants to change verbiage in a sentence for me, it is generally not what I want.  The worst offender, however is my cell phone and text messages.  I have to make sure I thoroughly read each text because the cell will completely change the sentence which changes the meaning and half of the time it does not make sense.  Boy do I love the dictionary.

Jan 19, 2012 03:57 AM #6
Rainmaker
716,358
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Marte, 
Can you imagine trying to do the same thing they were in Chinese or Korean?  It would be  very difficult.  I always knew our language was inconsistant and full of exceptions to the rules.   But I never really appreciated how difficult it was before I started working with this group.    Having been raised with it, I accepted it....for what it was.  But it really and truly is a very difficult language to master.   They wanted to learn, but it really isn't cut and dried. One wanted to  understand our idioms.  I finally bought her a book of idioms and she tried to use one a day!

Jan 21, 2012 03:43 PM #7
Rainmaker
710,608
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Marte

Thanks....I've had to disagree with WORD so many times, too. In some cases, I had to add certain words in my own Word dictionary. However, not everyone will have the proficiency in the English language to really know when Word is correct.

For example, there is a difference in how the word "principal" is used from the word "principle"; or when we should use "premise" instead of "premises", or "effect" versus "affect".

I have a dictionary that I consult(ed) frequently for these differences. It's Harper Dictionary of Contermporary Usage. It's an excellent resource

Jan 30, 2012 06:23 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,537,488
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Mary - I'm glad I don't have a bossy cell phone to contend with! I'd be cranky if something changed my words - I can make enough mistakes on my own.

Ruthmarie - Yes, I have nothing but sympathy and respect for anyone who is trying to learn to use English as a second language.

Pacita - That's right - a whole lot of people would assume that Word knows better than they do.

Your examples... just this morning I was reading blogs and wishing people would learn the difference between "effective" and "affective." But then, there are many who don't know there from their or hear from here...

I think this can only get worse as more people use voice recognition software.

Jan 30, 2012 07:42 AM #9
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Rainmaker
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Marte Cliff

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