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Why does Microsoft Word 2010 show an error for the following sentence?

1. Where should this car be parked?

Word 2010 also suggests changing the sentence to

2. Where this car should be parked?

Is the sentence (1) wrong? If yes, why? What about sentence (2)?

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16  
Guess what? You write better than Microsoft. (Sometimes you have to let common sense prevail, particularly when dealing with grammar checkers.) –  J.R. May 23 '12 at 14:08
7  
One of my kids once had a grammar test where she was given twenty sentences and was supposed to identify the grammar errors in each. For amusement, I typed this test into MS Word. It flagged many things that were correct as errors, and missed many of the real errors. It got a 60-something percent on the test. Take any message from a computer grammar checker as a suggestion, not an authoritative ruling. –  Jay May 23 '12 at 14:23
10  
PLEASE ignore Microsoft’s blather. It’s its own curse. –  tchrist May 23 '12 at 14:29
1  
@ Old Pro But is it not a way to at least know that one needs to review the underlined sentence/phrase? It may encourage us to be careful even if it does not give the correct suggestion. –  Stat-R May 23 '12 at 17:25
3  
@Dan, MS's spell checker is great, and I encourage you to use it. Its grammar checker is harmful. If you are a poor writer, you will not have the knowledge and confidence to ignore its bad advice and, as Jay pointed out, are about as likely to be misled as to be correctly corrected, which will only further confuse you while not improving your writing overall. –  Old Pro May 23 '12 at 18:37

2 Answers 2

up vote 20 down vote accepted

When used as a stand-alone sentence, you're right:

1) Where should this car be parked? <-- correct

2) Where this car should be parked?

Now... if it's part of a larger sentence it's different:

1) Do you know where should this car be parked?

2) Do you know where this car should be parked? <-- correct

I would speculate that either there was some other typo that made MS Word think you were in the second scenario, or it was just a flat-out bug in the grammar checker.

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@ Lynn is it possible to explain how "Do you know where should this car be parked?" is incorrect? Sorry for the novice clarification. –  Stat-R May 23 '12 at 16:04
    
"Where this car should be parked" is a fact, so the sentence structure is: "Do you know (a fact)?" "Where should this be parked?" is a question. That would make the question: "Do you know (a question)?" That usage may not be technically incorrect, but it sure sounds strange. –  lindanaughton May 23 '12 at 16:33
    
It could also be that Stat-R is using a different version of Word, that has an older (or newer) Grammar Checker. –  aslum May 23 '12 at 16:34
    
@aslum - Yeah actually my version parsed it as an error too, it just took it a minute so I didn't notice right away. I updated my response. –  lindanaughton May 23 '12 at 16:36
4  
It's not a typo: Microsoft Word thinks you're in the second scenario even though you're not. You can ask it for clarification, and it says "If your sentence includes a statement about a question rather than a direct question, the subject should come before the verb. Instead of: He asked the bus driver when would the next bus come. Consider: He asked the bus driver when the next bus would come." Its grammar checker is really poor. –  Peter Shor May 23 '12 at 17:02

1. is right; 2. is wrong. The grammar checker probably got confused by the fact that if the question mark were omitted, it would be the other way round.

It may be possible to devise a computerised grammar for English that makes fewer mistakes than a schoolchild (always a good discussion topic in the bar), but Microsoft Word doesn't have one.

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protected by RegDwigнt May 23 '12 at 22:02

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