Ngrams: A Magnificent Editing Tool

Basically, Google Ngrams searches all of the 5.2 million books digitized by Google for whatever word(s) or phrase(s) you want to look for or compare. It then plots them on a graph. This is extremely useful when proofreading as it helps me to choose between variant spellings, particularly if an author has used more than one in their work. 

Have a look at this example:
nerves
Charts like the one below also show which version of a phrase was in common use in a particular era. You can even use it to check whether a word you’re considering using in your period piece was in common usage at that time.

hat

In general, it’s rather interesting to see how words or phrases have risen or fallen in popularity. Here’s the trajectory of ‘twerk’:

twerk

You can also search in many languages, including British or American English, and choose a shorter time span. It can even be used to explore cultural change and the popularity of ideas.

women

It’s a handy and rather interesting tool. Click here to have a go.

What do you think? Have you used it in your editing?

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Editing, Proofreading

3 responses to “Ngrams: A Magnificent Editing Tool

  1. This is really interesting. I will have to look into this.

    Like

  2. Colin

    I tried to use Ngrams to prove my boss wrong about something, instead it showed I was wrong. I’m never using this product again. One star.

    Like

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