Google’s new AI grammar checker is now live in Google Docs

Google today announced that its new machine learning-powered grammar checker is now live in Google Docs for G Suite users. The company first introduced this new feature at Cloud Next 2018, but it lingered in early access ever since.

Grammar checkers are nothing new, of course, and even Docs itself has long had one. What’s new here is that Google uses machine translation techniques to find obvious mistakes (see headline) as well as more subtle issues. It’s one thing, after all, to compare words in a dictionary to what you’re writing and mark up mistakes. It’s another to understand complex grammar rules, which can vary by region and style. The company claims that its machine translation technique is able to catch these kinds of issues because they are very hard to encode as a set of hard rules.

“Using machine translation, we are able to recognize errors and suggest corrections as work is getting done,” G Suite product manager Vishnu Sivaji explains in today’s announcement. “We worked closely with linguists to decipher the rules for the machine translation model and used this as the foundation of automatic suggestions in your Docs, all powered by AI.”

What Google is essentially doing here is training a model with correct sentences and then using the same kind of models it would use for translating sentences from English to French to translate incorrect sentences into correct ones.