English Writing with Google 생각

작년 초에 구글로 영어 공부하기란 주제로 썼던 글입니다. 친구 블로그에 놀러 갔다가 『 30대 영어 혁명』(김상운, 새론북스, 2004)이란 책에서 구글로 영어 공부하는 법을 언급하고 있다기에 생각나서 다시 올려봅니다.

Google is one of the most interesting tool people have ever invented. People enter a search keyword and can look up a ride range of information in a second, which makes many people enthusiastic about Google. However, searching, what Google provides, is not a brand new idea. People usually have looked up a yellow page when they need a phone number. Similarly, maps have been used when people are lost in a strange place. Google just has broadened the category of what you can look up, so now you can find virtually everything you want in the Internet. One interesting extended usage of Google is using it for correct writing. In this essay, we are going to present a new method on how to utilize Google to write a correct English essay.

When you go to Google site, you can see a simple Google logo and you type in a search keyword and click on “Google Search” button. Then Google shows you the search results according to their relative importance. For example, when you enter POSTECH, it displays POSTECH on the top and a long tail of other web sites related to POSTECH. An important point here is that you can not only find the web site you want but also know that there exists an institution named POSTECH.

This simple principle also applies to English phrases and expressions. When you type in “pay attention,” Google presents you various living examples of the expression, pay attention.” It indicates that there are 6,300,000 examples which use “pay attention.” You can infer from this large number of results that it is a very common expression. On the other hand, if you enter “pay attentions” instead of “pay attention,” there are only 3,820 search results. The big difference between these two results leads us to conclude that “pay attention” is an idiomatic expression which is mostly used with a singular form.

Be careful not to omit double quotation marks when you do a phrase search. Double quotation marks represent that we only want exact matches. Google usually removes articles and prepositions because they are so common that they don’t help find useful information in usual cases. In the same context, Google sometimes ignores the difference between singular and plural nouns and it groups different tenses of verbs to form actual keywords. However, what we want to search is related English grammar, so articles and prepositions are very important at this time. If we don’t want that information to be lost, we have to be sure that we use double quotation marks around our search keywords.

Unfortunately, there is a problem. When your sentence is too specific, you may find your search result is too small to justify that your sentence is correct. For example, if you wonder which sentence is correct between “It sounds very nice, isn't it?" and “It sounds very nice, doesn’t it?” you may ask Google. The Google results are disappointing this time because 17 vs. 4 are dubious. You can’t conclude that the first one is correct because the ratio is not enough to be safe.

You can use the asterisk sign here [1]. Try “It sounds * *, isn’t it?” and “It sounds * *, doesn’t it?” instead. The results are now 13,400 and 333. Now you can be sure that the question tag, “doesn’t it” is correct in this case. In this way, you can extend the power of Google to answer grammar questions. Try other queries like “If I am a bird” vs. “If I were a bird.” You may find that Google is even better than English grammar books because it gives you thousands of real-world examples.

Asterisk sign also can be used to look up useful adjectives and adverbs. You sometimes write a boring sentence “English writing is a creative job.” After you write down this sentence, you want to add an adverb in front of “creative job.” Try “a * creative job” on Google. Then Google will bring you an adverb, “highly” in this case.

In addition, when you write an essay, you often need to look up the definitions of words which you are not familiar with. For example, suppose you have heard of the term, “Green House Effect,” but you don’t know what it really is. An English dictionary gives you the definition, “The greenhouse effect is the problem caused by increased quantities of gases such as carbon dioxide in the air.” Most people would think it is not sufficient to understand the phenomenon. Use Google instead of your old dictionary. Google has a feature called “WHAT IS.” Type in “What is the green house effect” on Google. Google presents you every definition of the green house effect on the web. It also gives you a long tail of related web sites, so you can look up further information.

Finally, Google provides a spell check feature [2]. Many people made mistakes when they enter their search keywords, some mistakes are just typos and others are difficult words which people often misspell. For instance, try “schoool” on Google, Google immediately recommends using the correct word, “school.” Similarly, if you type in “consciuos mind,” Google suggests you “conscious mind” in “Did you mean … section.” Google is more powerful than most word processors which provide spell check features because Google’s spell checker is based on people’s actual mistakes and learns from those ones.

Until now, we have inspected various features of Google which help write a correct English essay. To summarize, we can ask grammar questions on Google and we can look up a lot of useful expressions using asterisk sign, and we can find definitions of words and check correct spells. Google is better than English dictionaries because it provides every-day examples of English. It provides you the search results with the number of matching pages. So you can safely conclude that some expressions are common because they are widely used in the Internet. Though English writing is a highly creative job, an automatic tool, Google can help improve the quality of writing. Don’t forget to visit Google when you begin to write something.

[1] Learn English with Google
[2] Advanced Google Search Operators


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