I'm trying to look outside MS Word for tools that will check my content for stuff beyond Flesch-Kincaid, and avg words/sentence.
For instance, MS Word will show me what % of my content is "passive sentences". OK, it knows they're there, but can it actually show me which sentences it thinks are passive? Or is there some other software tool which will point out passive sentences?
Also there's things like the Dale-Chall list of 3000 simple words - is there a tool which will show me when I've used a word outside of the list?
And other tools to help spot things that will improve readability?
There are some tools you could try, such as this one: http://www.grammarly.com/.
Or you could get someone that knows English to look over your writing.
Or hire an editor.
Thanks, but I'm suspicious about pasting my original content into ANY website - who's to say it's not being harvested/auto-rewritten for a content farm?
Likewise, I'm especially suspicious of Grammerly - it doesn't really seem to sell anything, it just constantly pumps you to "Check your Text" - and when I pasted in some dummy text - I got a browser-alert that it was trying to install some kind of spyware/adware. No thank you.
I'm simply looking to see if anyone has created a standalone application (not a human, not MS Word) that highlights things like passive sentences, overly complex words, etc.
Grammarly is a very trusted site. It's probably one of the best you'll find right now.
Also, it's not free, they just have a little sample thing. Once you get going, you have to pay for it.
There is also the free Paper Rater: http://www.paperrater.com/
For things like grammar, a web-based application is better because it can be updated far more frequently.
To add to your paranoia, a stand-alone application could farm data just like a web-based one could. =p If you are truly worried about that, better get buddy buddy with the English department at a local university. =p
OK here's the answer to my MS Word question:
In Word 2007: Ball icon thingy > Word Options > Proofing > change from "Grammar only" to "Grammar & Style" > then click the "Settings" button and make sure "Passive sentences" is checked (along w most everything else). Now if you type a passive sentence like "Why was the road crossed by the chicken?" it'll be underlined in squigly green.
This is an eye-opener. Is there anything in Grammarly that Word doesn't do?
I appreciate that someone still cares to this extent about grammar. Thank you for posting these types of resources. Many people no longer value the proper use of words and sentence structure or the basic rules of grammar. Your post inspires others to continue their grammar police plights in order to keep the integrity of the English language alive and well.
Begin learning the right way to write grammatically correct sentences and you won't need automated tools.
"Why was the road crossed by the chicken?"
The sentence is poorly constructed as to subject and predicate. The chicken should be the subject. The chicken crossed the road. Roads cannot be active, therefore you can't write an active sentence about a road, unless the road happens to be in a fairy tale.
"Why did the chicken cross the road is an active sentence?"
A major problem with grammar checkers is that they "green squiggle" anything that their algorithms flag as a mistake. For instance, the sentence "The road was less traveled than the highway," would be flagged for several reasons. First, it is passive; next to be correct it should read "the highway was traveled", but in the vernacular that makes the sentence stiff and strange.
If you know you are writing a passive sentence or making a grammatical error, it you know your reason for doing so and it's a good one, go for it. That's something a grammar checker won't normally tell you -- no matter how good it is -- but something that writers who have a good grasp of their mechanics know.
"Why was the road crossed by the chicken?"
The sentence is poorly constructed as to subject and predicate.
I know - I deliberately typed it into Word2007 to see what the program would do (it gave it a green squiggly line).
I'm mildly surprised that I've had Word 2007 for years, and just now discovering the Grammar & Style functions. I'm pasting a lot of my older copy and finding a LOT of Passive Voice and Fragmented sentences.
Another problem I'm having is getting my FK scores down from 11-12th grade level (leftover from when I had to write a lot of papers for my Masters) to about 8th grade. My sentences often go over 30 words, and I've got plenty of words with more than two syllables.
Which is why Flesch-Kincaid is tripe. Write for your readers. Develop a style that you would use in "talking" to a customer, friend, or contact. If you are writing for professional people, you will probably never be able to get your "grade" level down to 8th grade. In fact, type the word "professional" 50 times on a page and see what happens to FK. FK and the other (the name escapes me) are two more automated pieces of junk that don't take real people into consideration. From what you have posted, it appears you know how to use appropriate vocabulary, but if FK had its way that last clause (it appears... ) would trun out to be, "it looks like you use okay words."
IMO talking down to your readers is just as bad, if not worse, than talking over their heads.
There are lots of websites, providing free services to check the grammar and spelling mistakes in a text document. You can also took the help of several online English tutorials. Whitesmoke is one of them. I am using it, I hope it helps you too.
Just beware that Whitesmoke has a red Web of Trust (WOT) rating. I tried it once but there were a lot of pop-ups, etc. and WOT reviews say it has malware.
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