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If you use Google Docs, then you will be happy to know that Google is introducing a grammar checking feature in the app.  I, myself, use Grammarly and have for a while now, but it doesn’t work in Google Docs.  Much to my dismay.  Regardless, though, we are definitely happy to hear that they’re bringing their own grammar checking technology to the app.  What you might not know, or understand is how they are using machine learning in order to help you correct your mistakes as you type.  Google says that its AI can identify a wide range of errors and suggest fixes for them.  Like grammatical rules on how to use articles in a sentence (using “a” vs. “an”) to more complicated concepts such as how to use a subordinate clause correctly.

How does this work?  Google’s VP for G Suite’s product management explained that the tool uses a machine translation-based approach in order to sort out your writing:

“We’ve adopted a highly effective approach to grammar correction that is machine translation-based.  For example, in language translation, you take a language like French and translate it into English. Our approach to grammar is similar. We take improper English and use our technology to correct or translated it into proper English.What’s nice about this is that the language translations is a technology that we have a long history of doing well.”

google docs

We haven’t yet seen this new tool up close, which means that we don’t necessarily know how it’s going to fare.  A big question that many of us are thinking is will it be similar to Grammarly in the way that it checks for issues with punctuation or odd word choices.  That said, maybe it will be better than Grammarly.  Don’t get me wrong – I think that Grammarly is wonderful, but sometimes it just doesn’t understand certain words or phrases.  I use the word “mainstream” a lot, and of course, Grammarly wants me to put “the” or “a” in front of it.  Mainstream is a noun, a verb, and an adjective, depending on how you’re using it, but it certainly doesn’t need “a” in front of it all the time.

What Google is doing isn’t new.  In fact, Grammarly uses artificial intelligence in order to help you communicate more effectively.  What’s unclear is whether or not they will in effect, give you the same outcome?  That said, I’m happy to see that Google is allowing some kind of grammar tool within Docs because it hasn’t been available before.  If I’m working on a draft of a story, sometimes I use Google Docs, but I can’t tell how horribly I’m actually writing until I put it into another app.  Which can be time-consuming.  And honestly, it kind of makes me just want to use another app.


What we also don’t know is if Google has made this grammar checker available as an API for other developers too.  Lastly, the use of artificial intelligence in this context definitely shows us what Google has in mind for this technology, an are looking at ways they can incorporate it into future products over time.

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