Thursday, July 27, 2006

Grammar and the Google Test

I've been meaning to blog briefly about this for some time, and well, I'm conducting a few tests on my system right now and so I have some free time.

Have you ever unsure about proper usage of a common phrase or colloquial expression? Sometimes, you can think of several ways to say it, but you are pretty sure only one is correct.

Here are a couple of real-life examples that came up recently.

"Splitting Image" or "Spitting Image"?
"Keeping It Real" or "Keeping It For Real"?

Both times someone asked me about them, and even though I could answer them, I figured I'd tell them a quick-and-easy way to find out for themselves. I told them about the Google Test. It's really quite simple.

Use Google to search for the exact phrase by placing quotes around it.

Splitting Image vs. Spitting Image

Keeping It Real vs. Keeping It For Real

What you see is that searching for "Splitting Image" returns 40,000 results, while "Spitting Image" produces nearly 1.8 million results. "Keeping It Real" returns 1.2 million results, and "Keeping It For Real" comes up very short with 11 results.

This simple test will suit your needs for almost all cases where you have to decide between similarly worded phrases or colloquialisms. Just another way to use Google's far-reaching search powers.

Recently, I had a conversation about the incorrectness of saying "close the light." It doesn't make much sense... "turn off the light" is obviously the correct way to say this. The Google Test does not fail us here. "Close the light" returns just under 14,000 results, and "turn off the light" gives us a whopping half million.


Anonymous said...

One of my favorites (maybe both are wrong):

Take a "new tact" (18,700)
Take a "new tack" (340,000)

Brute Force said...

The Google Test serves you well... "new tack" is certainly correct.

Anonymous said...

what's the saying again...

Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.

Yay to you for teaching people how to figure things out for themselves..