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February 9, 2007

It be

More brilliance from the spelling/grammar checker in Microsoft* Word:

I was finishing my article for the Setonian the other day. I read my article out loud to myself and then decided to use the spelling/grammar checker since I noticed I had a couple red lines on the page.

There was one green line and it was under the contraction "it's."

My jaw dropped when I saw the suggestion to change the verb to "it be."


I can't think of any reasons why it would suggest this. I admit that I am so tired from this week that I can only tolerate my own meticulous traits concerning grammar. If anyone has any suggestions as to why this would be suggested as a solution to an error that didn't exist, I wouldn't mind hearing what you have to say (or reading it here, haha).

*Note: This is not a personal thing against Microsoft. I just happen to use the software and find little quirks.

Posted by KarissaKilgore at February 9, 2007 7:34 AM


When I find myself in times of trouble
MS spell-check comes to me
Suggesting words of wisdom,
Like "it be."

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz Author Profile Page at February 9, 2007 8:52 AM

Note the following can be interpreted as highly offensive or politically incorrect. It's not meant to be either... just random thought about communication in the English language.

Hey! Maybe the spell checker is using "Ebonics" as the language. Grammar is exclusively dependent upon the language you refer to. In Russian, double negatives are often used to express a negation, for example.

And since there is no "Standard Written English" in the United States (hell, there isn't even an official language here yet), it's being a little harsh to poke fun at a computer program's suggestion.

I think that grammar is extremely fluid in American English. So long as you can effectively communicate to your audience, grammar is a secondary factor.

That being said, since your audience is expecting AP style, I don't think "it be" will go by in a newspaper without giving your copy editors a stroke.

Posted by: Evan at February 9, 2007 1:24 PM

Truth in labeling?

MS-Word puts menu options around "it be" that read "Help Ignore Grammar..."

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 9, 2007 1:41 PM

LOL, thanks to both of you for those comments.

Evan, I don't think what you said was offensive, but I never mind a good disclosure (hence why I used one in this entry!).

And as for the "Help," "Ignore," and "Grammar" options, Dr. Jerz? Well, I can't say that I'm surprised there are subliminal messages associated with a suggestion so strange... "It be..." for crying out loud, I was never expecting that one!

Posted by: Karissa at February 9, 2007 3:04 PM

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