Have you been a victim of sending an email with “you” when you really meant “your?” Tweeted something only to discover you misspelled “-ing” as “-ign?”
Typos, comma-tastrophes, and subject-verb disagreements happen. They’re part of #NinjaLife as you probably communicate very quickly on a computer or phone. Often, they’re just careless little errors that sneak into your prose and destroy your otherwise perfect English at times when it matters most.
Enter: Ginger Software
Ginger Software is an intuitive proofreader that checks your spelling and grammar as you type, where ever you type. Since I’ve started using it, I’ve noticed that Ginger works in almost any text box. In addition to email, it will even offer instant corrections when I’m typing for Facebook, Twitter and nearly any other popular site.
More importantly, Ginger works within common SaaS (software-as-a-service) apps like Concur, Asana, InfusionSoft, and Salesforce. Although this tutorial will only feature screenshots from email, Facebook and MS Office, it works the same way in almost every text box in a browser.
Ginger for Browsers
We’ll be downloading Ginger Software for Browsers which, in my case, is Google Chrome. Do you want to let Ginger keep you from looking silly when you send words over the internet? Why, yes. Yes you do. Once you click “Add”, you’ll notice a new icon in your browser’s toolbar. Just like that, you’re ready to create a Ginger account and start typing error-free.
Test Driving Ginger
The journey begins in the top right-hand corner of the browser with a teal “G” icon. When you click on it, you’ll open a free-text box and wonder, “Wait, so I have to type it here, and then copy&paste my text to where it needs to go?! That’s not efficient!”
Well, yes and no. The toggle at the top gives you the option to pre-write your text, but the real power of this software shows its colors once you’re inside your favorite website application.
I started by playing with a Facebook status update. To test Ginger’s powers, I massacred the phrase, “I am writing a Facebook post with Ginger Software active.”
Ginger spotted my typos immediately, and it knew something was wrong with the random adverb at the end of the sentence. When you hover your mouse over the highlighted text, you’ll see the proofreader’s suggestions.
Clicking the hovering sentence will change every highlighted typo into the suggested word. After accepting the suggestion, you can still manually change individual words. In my case, I had to change “activities” into “active.”
You can also proofread individual words in a sentence. Hover the mouse over the highlighted words, and then hover again over the teal word in the suggestions box to modify specific word choices. Simple enough, right?
In email, a few of Ginger’s weaknesses become a little more apparent. For one thing, it didn’t recognize my run on sentence in this test email:
Sorry folks, you’ll still have to double-check your commas. Fortunately, most of us know that run-on sentences are evil-incarnate, so this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
The Ginger plug-in for MS Office has a better handle on natural English than the browser plug-in, even though this, too, has a few kinks. Downloading is simple, not unlike downloading any other Windows application. The magic starts once you launch it.
You can activate Ginger from your tray:
Similar to the browser plug-in, you’ll be taken to a free-text box with options on the left. While you have the option of playing with it here, you probably want to go straight to editing your MS Word and PowerPoint documents.
Open any MS Office document. I downloaded a random proofreading exercise from a teaching website to test Ginger’s prowess on Windows. When you create or open a document, you’ll notice a new addition to your screen.
Once you have your text, you can activate a full proofread of the document by either clicking on your new icon, or by pressing the Ginger’s default hotkey, [F2].
The software will then run through the entire document, offering suggestions that you can either approve or skip at your discretion. This is the final, unedited text that Ginger approved:
Do you know Ryan did last weekend. He went to the beach with his family. First, Ryan built a huge sand castle. Then, he collects seashells and rocks. After that, he went swimming with his brother. Ryan has a wonderful time at the beach.
Ginger was able to catch the context of “know” versus “no.” It was also able to spot and change “builded” with “built.” Clearly, then, the software can spot and offer suggestions for basic grammar errors.
However, Ginger is not psychic, nor is it a writer. It wasn’t able to keep the past/present tense consistent throughout the paragraph, and sometimes it can’t detect when a sentence just doesn’t make sense. You’ll still be in charge of some proofreading yourself.
The free version is simple, but powerful. In summary:
- It can spot a typo instantly.
- It spots subject-verb disagreements.
- It corrects verbs with the wrong conjugation.
- It’s a little slow to catch grammar errors in the browser.
- It can’t catch changes in tense from one sentence to the other.
- It can’t stop a comma-tastrophe.
Overall, Ginger mostly knows what it’s doing. It’s the nearly-perfect proofreading companion for the quick-typing Ninja.