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Microsoft KB Archive/211519

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Knowledge Base

WD2000: Frequently Asked Questions About Proofing Grammar

Article ID: 211519

Article Last Modified on 12/10/2002


  • Microsoft Word 2000 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q211519

IMPORTANT: This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry


This article answers the more frequently asked questions about the grammar proofing tool in Microsoft Word 2000.


  1. What does it mean that Word 2000 has a "natural language" grammar proofing tool?

    The grammar proofing tool in Word 2000 can do a more comprehensive and accurate analysis (also known as "parsing") of the submitted text, instead of just using a series of heuristics (or pattern matching) to flag errors. The Word 2000 grammar proofing tool does text analysis at a syntactical level and at a deeper, logical level to understand the relationship between the actions and the people, or things, doing those actions. For example, the Word grammar proofing tool analyzes the following complex sentence:

    The legend says that that Kingdom was created by three ancient magicians, whose magical powers governed the world and made them immortal and all-powerful.

    and rewrites it from the passive to the active voice for clarity, while setting off the relative clause between commas:

    The legend says that three ancient magicians, whose magical powers governed the world and made them immortal and all-powerful, created that Kingdom.

  2. Who developed the Word 2000 grammar proofing tool?

    The grammar proofing tools are fully developed and owned by Microsoft.
  3. What are the key differences between the Word 2000 grammar proofing tool and other grammar proofing solutions by third-party vendors?

    One of the key differences between the Word 2000 grammar proofing tools and other grammar proofing solutions is that the grammar proofing tools in Word 2000 use advanced parsing techniques to understand the sentence structure, and third-party grammar proofing solutions may rely mainly on "pattern matching." By pattern matching, we mean that the program uses a technique that matches the checked text against patterns of text stored in an internal database.
  4. What are the files names of the grammar proofing tool files, and where are they installed?

    The Word Setup program installs the grammar proofing tool by default. The English (United States) grammar proofing tool comprises two files:
    • Msgren32.dll
    • Msgr_en.lex

    both of which are installed in the following folder:

    <Drive>:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof
  5. How much memory do I need on my computer in order to allow Word to check the grammar in my document as I type?

    Word turns on the grammar proofing tool automatically if your computer has sufficient available memory. The method of checking grammar that is turned on when you set up and first start Word depends on the amount of available memory on your computer.

    Manually Use the Grammar Proofing Tool (8 MB or More):

    To run the grammar proofing tool when you click Spelling and Grammar on the Tools menu, your computer must have more than 8 megabytes (MB) physical RAM. If you have less than 8 MB, the Check grammar as you type feature is turned off by default when you first start Word.

    Automatically Use the Grammar Proofing Tool (12 MB or More):

    To run the Check grammar as you type option constantly (to display grammatical errors with wavy underlines), your computer must have at least 12 MB of physical RAM. If your computer has less than 12 MB of RAM, the Hide Grammatical Errors check box is selected when you first start Word.

    To turn on Check grammar as you type, on the Tools menu, point to Options, click the Spelling & Grammar tab, and click to select the Check grammar as you type check box.

    NOTE: For all Western languages other than English, the Check grammar as you type option is turned off by default. (The English grammar proofing tool is shipped with all versions of Word.)
  6. Where are the registry entries for the grammar proofing tool?

    WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

    Grammar Settings Per User:

    NOTE: Microsoft Word creates this setting if the setting does not exist in the Windows registry.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Proofing Tools\Grammar\MSGrammar

    Below this key, Word registers the grammar version number (2.0 in the case of English), the language IDs, the key Writing style (0 through 4) with the setting being the writing style names for the name, and binary data for each rule/writing style for the data.

    Grammar Machine Settings:

    NOTE: This setting must exist in order to check grammar in a specific language.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Proofing Tools\Grammar

    Below this key are the language IDs (1033, 2057, 3081), the Normal style attributes, and the values Dictionary and Engine, which contain respectively the fully qualified paths to the .lex and .dll files.

    NOTE: Not all language grammar proofing files will auto-register after you copy the grammar files to a specific location. Therefore, it is always advisable to use the Setup program to install the grammar proofing files (and other proofing tools).
  7. Why does the grammar proofing tool flag words that shouldn't be flagged, and why does it provide suggestions that are incorrect?

    In general, the grammar proofing tool incorrectly marks words or proposes incorrect suggestions when the parser (that is, the grammar proofing component that analyzes the linguistic structure of a sentence) cannot determine the correct structure of the analyzed sentence.

    Although state-of-the-art in its category, the grammar proofing tool (just like any other commercially available grammar proofing program) is not perfect. Therefore, when you use the grammar proofing tool, you may experience some amount of "false" or "suspect" flagging and subsequent wrong suggestions; however, the grammar proofing tool in Word 2000 is vastly improved over earlier versions of Microsoft Word.
  8. Why can't the grammar proofing tool spot mistakes in the phrase "We went two too stores, to . . ."?

    The grammar proofing tool is designed to catch the kinds of errors that ordinary users make every day. You can always make up sentences that may confuse the grammar proofing tool.
  9. When the grammar proofing tool is running in the background (wavy underlines), why does it flag errors in a different order than when I click Spelling and Grammar on the Tools menu?

    When you click Spelling and Grammar on the Tools menu, the grammar proofing tool runs in the foreground and has control in the document. That is, you cannot work in your document while the grammar proofing tool is checking your document.

    However, when the grammar proofing tool is running in the background (wavy underlines), it is trying to achieve a logical left-to-right flow and is not as critical of the sentence structure as it is when you run the grammar proofing tool manually (in the foreground). Therefore, when the grammar proof tool is running in the background, the error marked first is always the one that returns a suggestion, regardless of its position in the sentence.
  10. Why is "Ignore All" not working as I would expect it to?

    For example, if I click Ignore All for this sentence labeled as a fragment:

    After serving lunch.

    in the same proofing session, the grammar proofing tool stops on other sentences that are also labeled as fragments, for example:

    Over my dead body.

    The grammar proofing tool categorizes (internally) these two sentences as different types of fragments, and in the above examples, the grammar proofing tool is ignoring one of those types, but not the other. Thus the inconsistency of how Ignore All works.
  11. Why aren't mistakes flagged in left-to-right sequence?

    In most cases, the grammar proofing tool tries to flag errors from left-to-right. In some cases, this is not possible because the grammar proofing tool wants you to correct the most logical mistake first (this mistake may not be the first mistake). In this case, punctuation or spacing mistakes are flagged before specific or confined grammar errors.
  12. Why are some passive sentences flagged and suggested to be rewritten, and others are skipped?

    NOTE: This problem occurs with other rules in addition to the Passive-construction rule.

    For example, the following passive sentence is not flagged:

    The term of this Agreement shall commence on the Effective Date and shall continue until terminated by Volcano Coffee in writing at any time, with or without cause.

    For certain types of sentences, when there is no clear syntactic subject, the grammar proofing tool does not attempt to flag the sentence.
  13. When I right-click a grammar error (an error marked with a wavy underline), why doesn't the shortcut menu display the same options that are available in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box?

    For example, if an item is flagged, but if the grammar proofing tool does not provide a suggestion, the only options available are to ignore the sentence (and possibly miss other errors in that sentence) or to click the Grammar command to invoke the Spelling and Grammar dialog box.

    For the background mode (wavy underlines), the grammar proofing tool uses a simplified interface. If you want to view all the possible errors in a given sentence, you must click Grammar on the on the shortcut menu.
  14. Why do some pairs of words that are commonly confused work in one direction only?

    For example, in the grammar proofing tool, both "flea" and "flee" are flagged as commonly confused words, but with the pair "your" and "you're", only the word "your" is flagged as a commonly confused word.

    The grammar proofing tool handles some commonly confused word pairs in a unidirectional way to simplify the problem for the parser. The grammar proofing tool was designed this way to reduce the number of items that are flagged by the grammar proofing tool but that are not true grammatical errors.
  15. When a sentence is flagged as being too long, why is that the only advice given for the sentence?

    Long sentences are often difficult to read, both for people and for the grammar proofing tool. The grammar proofing tool is not sophisticated enough to detect grammatical errors in long sentences. If you are in doubt about the grammatical accuracy of a long sentence, you should break it up into smaller sentences.
  16. Why does the check proofing tool ignore text enclosed in quotation marks?

    The grammar proofing tool assumes that text in a direct quotation should not be critiqued.
  17. Why does the grammar proofing tool ignore text in subdocuments, such as headers, footers, and annotations?

    By design, the grammar proofing tool does not analyze text in headers, footers, or annotations. Headers and footers typically do not contain complete sentences. Similarly, annotations may be written in sentence fragments and are not suitable for grammar proofing.
  18. Why can't I change the grammar and writing style option defaults, such as the sentence length?

    These defaults are built-in to the grammar and writing style. The grammar and writing style defaults that are built-in include:

    • Length of long sentence
    • Successive nouns
    • Successive prepositional phrases
    • Words in split infinitives

    The following table lists the specific values for the built-in grammar and writing style defaults.

       Style Option                             Built-in Setting
       Length of long sentence                  60 words
       Successive nouns                         more than 3
       Successive prepositional phrases         more than 3
       Words in split infinitives               more than 1

    For more information about the grammar and writing style options, click Microsoft Word Help on the Help menu, type grammar and style options in the Office Assistant or the Answer Wizard, and then click Search to view the topics returned.

  19. What do the grammar statistics mean?

    When Microsoft Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it can display information about the reading level of the document, including the following readability scores. Each readability score bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.

    Text is rated on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70.
  20. What formulas are these statistics based on?

    Flesch Reading Ease score

    The formula for the Flesch Reading Ease score is:

    206.835 - (1.015 x ASL) - (84.6 x ASW)


    ASL = average sentence length (the number of words divided by the number of sentences)

    ASW = average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)

    Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score

    Rates text on a U.S. grade-school level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

    The formula for the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score is:

    (.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) - 15.59


    ASL = average sentence length (the number of words divided by the number of sentences)

    ASW = average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)
  21. Who uses them?

    Various government agencies require that specific documents or forms meet specific readability standards. For example, some states require insurance forms to have a specified readability score.
  22. How many words and phrases are in the grammar dictionary?

    The grammar dictionary includes approximately 99,000 words and phrases in their uninflected form (that is, this number does not include words such as "went", "children", and so on, which are the inflected forms of "go" and "child".
  23. What is the grammar dictionary based on?

    It is based on the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, third edition.
  24. How is the English grammar proofing tool different if I run it on U.K. English text versus U.S. English?

    The difference between proofing UK English text and US English is primarily in the spelling variances of words in the two languages--for example, "colour" as opposed to "color." These variances do not have any effect on grammar.

    The vast majority of the grammar rules apply to all English text (U.S. and U.K.). However, there are just a few grammar rules that differ depending on the selected language:
    • Plural premodifiers that are very commonly used in U.K. English are not flagged for U.K. English but are for U.S. English.
    • Subject-verb agreement with collective nouns where the verb is used in the plural form are not flagged in U.K. English but are flagged in US English, as in the following example:

    The team are planning to mobilize soon.

  25. Why don't some of the explanations seem to be related to the flagged mistake?

    For example, in the sentence:

    Lets go home now.

    The explanation in the grammar proofing tool does not mention specifically the confusable pair lets/let's.

    The grammar explanations are intended to cover the most general cases within each rule in order to avoid crowding the screen text.

Additional query words: 9.0 FAQ 9.00 grammar check grammarcheck

Keywords: kbinfo wd2000 kbdta kbproof kbfaq KB211519