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A grammar checker is a standalone software application or part of a software application that helps in checking the grammatical correctness of a text. Usually, the grammar checker is implemented as a feature of a larger application package such as word processors. However, standalone grammar checkers are also available for use, and there are also several websites that provide online grammar checking services. Grammar checkers typically make use of natural language processing and grammatical rules to identify mistakes and other language errors.
Writers use a grammar checker to determine the grammatical correctness and consistency of their text. This application is usually included as an add-on feature in many word processors. For instance, the grammar checker feature in Microsoft Word underlines erroneous phrases with a green squiggly line. One of the early grammar checkers used in Unix systems was the Writer’s Workbench, which allowed users to check for wordy, trite, clichéd or misused phrases in a text. Grammar checkers may also include features to check the diction, style consistency and spelling errors in a given text. They may also perform readability testing and provide statistical information about the text.
Grammar checking is a complex process, and, hence, the available grammar checkers are far from perfect. As natural languages do not comply with rigid grammatical rules and have many exception cases in natural use, achieving accurate grammatical verification is difficult. Moreover, natural languages are not constrained by a specific syntax and have a wide range of vocabulary; hence, grammar checkers must also have an extensive dictionary of most words with their complete meanings and part-of-speech usage.
Research studies in this area are more focused on creating effective algorithms that allow context-based grammar checking for improved correctness. Online services and applications such as Microsoft Office have included context-based grammar checking as a part of their feature set.
However, the overall accuracy of grammar checkers has not always been satisfactory, as these applications can only find the most repeated and clichéd errors. As a result, experts advise that they be used only as a tool for checking and must not be wholly relied upon for verifying the grammatical correctness of a text.