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I will be specific. I am trying to frame a sentence to include in a blog post. Instinctively it feels lame and wrong. Word keeps asking me to consider revising the fragment. As I am not a native English speaker, I realize I have to ask questions when I get stuck and practice writing better sentences, step by step. That is the idea behind writing this post.

Here is my sentence:

Type out the below code in your favorite code editor or simple old NotePad and save it in a convenient location on your hard drive.

What is a better way to write it, both from the point of view of grammar and user friendliness?

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I think this is Off Topic "writing advice". No idea if it would be welcome on writers.se –  FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 19:39
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This is the first time I see Notepad written in camel case. My guess is that Word is offended precisely because of that. (And I'm only half joking — nobody knows how grammar checkers work, including the people who write them.) –  RegDwigнt Jan 25 '13 at 19:47
    
@FumbleFingers That was my first thought; but since OP is responding to a critique from an "authoritative" source, and the request for writing advice is secondary to that question, I think it can be allowed to stand. –  StoneyB Jan 25 '13 at 19:47
    
@Reg Word does object to "NotePad" but it gets a red wavy line, not a green one. –  Andrew Leach Jan 25 '13 at 19:49
    
@RegDwighт Word *doesn't like NotePad; but it still raises the Fragment flag when that's changed. That appears to be triggered by 'below code' - 'code below' is accepted. –  StoneyB Jan 25 '13 at 19:50

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would rather use following than below. You could add a comma to aid readability:

Type out the following code in your favorite code editor or simple old Notepad, and save it in a convenient location on your hard drive.

And as it happens this also seems to pacify Word.

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And as an aside, I wouldn't worry too much about what Word flags as needing attention. It's a word-processor, not a tutor. –  Andrew Leach Jan 25 '13 at 19:41
    
@ilango-gurusamy Word is a Soulless Machine which knows rather less about English than an average ten-year-old; certainly less than you do. –  StoneyB Jan 25 '13 at 19:45
    
That worked. Thank you. –  ilango gurusamy Jan 25 '13 at 19:51
    
@StoneyB, you are right about Word. It is soulless..lol. Thanks, Andrew –  ilango gurusamy Jan 25 '13 at 19:53
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@JonHanna I know. I'm sorry; I acknowledge my guilt and my sin is ever before me. I'll turn grammar checking off again now and try not to do it again. :) –  Andrew Leach Jan 25 '13 at 20:22

I think your problem was "the below code". If you want to use the same words, you would write it as "the code below". Not only does it sound correct to the human mind, Word likes it, too.

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Some dictionaries would disagree: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/below (the fourth item). –  Jon Hanna Jan 25 '13 at 20:16
    
I don't follow. Can you be more specific? –  Canis Lupus Jan 25 '13 at 20:19
    
Jon's point being, "the below code" is perfectly grammatical. –  RegDwigнt Jan 25 '13 at 20:32
    
It's just that I don't see how the citation supports this. Can you clarify it for me if Jon isn't around to do so? –  Canis Lupus Jan 25 '13 at 20:37
    
The definition says it's an adjective meaning "written or discussed lower on the same page or on a following page". "The below code" therefore means the code that is written or discussed lower on the same page or on a following page. It's both perfectly grammatical, and what has the intended meaning. –  Jon Hanna Jan 25 '13 at 22:43

Step 1 is, as always, to shout "Screw you Word! The only sentence fragment I see here is in 'Fragment, consider revising'".

Sentence fragments are worth avoiding in some, but not all situations, but Word is really bad at identifying them. My guess would be that here it's because the imperative sentence "Type out..." doesn't have an explicit subject. Often a sentence without a subject (or several in different clauses) is a sentence fragment, but imperative clauses not only have an implied "you" but in present-day English we leave them out usually - sometimes adding it just for emphasis. That's just a guess, but it's the second-worse warning Word has for being either wrong or irrelevant.

In general:

  1. The form "below code" is accepted by some dictionaries, but objected to by some people (I'm sure we have a question about it here, but can't find it). For that reason, while it's fine as it is you might consider "code below" or "following code".

  2. A comma before the and would not be necessary but it would be allowed too, and it would give a pause within the sentence. Alternatively you could use a comma on either side of "or simple old Notepad" to make that a parenthetical remark.

  3. The program Notepad is spelled Notepad not NotePad (unlike WordPad that is inter-capitalised).

Of these, number 3 is the only thing I'd consider a mistake. That and treating Word's messages as reliable. At most, maybe check those things it gives warnings for, but be aware that it very often not just wrong but very wrong and following its advice could lead you to turn perfect prose into clunky or even ungrammatical writing.

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Have an upvote and a link. –  RegDwigнt Jan 25 '13 at 19:56
    
@RegDwighт cheers, that is indeed the question I was thinking of. –  Jon Hanna Jan 25 '13 at 20:13

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