Title News

A review of Word’s F7 key function

by John Steele

This is a document showing how to use Word’s F7 function and how well it finds spelling and grammar errors in your work.

To use the F7 function, open any word document and select some or all of the text, and then press the F7 key. It’s the one directly above the number 7 key on most keyboards in case you never use function keys.

Here are some sentence examples and an explanation for how the F7 function suggests altering them. The function does find some things, but can be misleading in some cases. Therefore I wouldn’t fully depend on it.

Subject and verb example
[*F7 found an error*]

The subject or subjects performing the action must agree, in number, with the verb.

  • The boy with the gray and brown kittens have a ball. [F7 found this error and suggests changing it to boy with the gray and brown kittens has or boys with the gray and brown kittens have]


Pronouns–and their antecedents (the word before the pronoun)
[*F7 found nothing wrong with this whole section*]

Pronouns must agree in number with their antecedents and also their gender.

  • Both teachers did a great job in their classrooms.

Here both are plural and therefore okay. [F7 says okay too]

With some words it is hard to understand whether they are singular or plural. Indefinite pronouns (such as someone, anyone, few, none, or everyone) can be confusing.

  • Someone broke his coffee cup. [F7 found nothing wrong here, but some would say this is wrong. Since the word “someone” is an indefinite pronoun, this could refer to a women which wouldn’t have his coffee cup.]

This version of the sentence might be clearer.

  • Someonebroke his or her coffee cup.

Sentence errors
[F7 found nothing wrong with this whole section]

Proper sentence structure consists of a group of words that begin with a capital letter, have an ending punctuation and express a complete thought. Here are some bad grammar examples:

  • Because I wanted to go to the beach.
  • When Joey pays me.
  • Jennifer went to the movies, she saw the previews.

[The first two examples are wrong because they don’t express a complete thought, yet the F7 function found nothing wrong here.] To correct this error, you must add something to complete the thought. Like these:

  • I packed a bathing suit because I wanted to go to the beach.
  • When Joey pays me I can pay my rent.

The third bad grammar example is a run-on sentence since it contains more than one thought without connecting them correctly. You must tie them together with a conjunction like (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, etc. after the comma or change the comma to a semicolon. Alternatively, just make two sentences. Here are some correct examples:

  • Jennifer went to the movies, and she saw the previews.
  • Jennifer went to the movies; she saw the previews.
  • Jennifer went to the movies. She saw the previews.

Descriptive phrase errors
[Again, F7 found nothing wrong with this whole section either]

When using descriptive phrases, you need to make sure it is attached to the right word.

  • Smelling like rotten fish, my father took the trash out.

[That Poor father! Obviously, this should be written as: My father took out the trash that smelled like rotten fish.]
This example suggests that your father stinks, because the modifier is misplaced. While it could be true that the father smells of fish, it is more likely that it is the trash that smells of rotten fish.

  • Watching from the airplane window, the clouds looked angry.

[Luckily, angry looking clouds do not fly on airplanes. A better sentence might be: The passenger, watching from the airplane window, saw the angry clouds.]

[F7 found some of these errors]

Watch out when using the wrong homonyms and avoid appearing uneducated and giving your writing more bad grammar examples. [F7 found this as an error and suggests changing it to you’re] This is incorrect, so be careful. F7 isn’t perfect.

It’s/Its: It’s is a contraction meaning It is or It has. Its is a possessive pronoun.

  • Its going to be a rainy day. Does the lawn mower need it’s oil changed? [F7 found these errors the first time through, but did not find these errors on a second pass through even though nothing was changed. The sentences should read: It’s going to be a rainy day. + Does the lawn mower need its oil changed?

There/Their/They’re: There is either a place or a pronoun. Their is a possessive pronoun. They’re is a contraction meaning They are.

  • Their goes my friend. There going to bring they’re suitcases. [The F7 function found the first two of these words, but totally missed the “they’re” as in they’re suitcases. On a later scan of the document, the F7 function failed to find anything wrong.] A correct way to write the sentences is:
  • There goes my friend. They’re going to bring their suitcases.

Your/You’re: Like the above examples, your is a possessive pronoun, while you’re is a contraction for you are. Here’s an example to check:

  • Your going to need you’re phone.


[The first time through F7 found the first Your and correctly suggested to change it to You’re. Unfortunately, it also found the you’re at the end of the sentence and suggests changing it to you is. On a second try, F7 says the first Your is okay and the you’re should be changed to you is.]

Here is a better sentence:

  • You’re going to need your phone.

Affect/Effect: Most of the time, affect is a verb, and effect is a noun.

  • That medicine effects my ability to drive. Have you ever heard of the butterfly affect?

[F7 found the first “effects” and suggested changing it to “affect” but totally missed the second “affect” error. On a second pass, F7 found nothing wrong]

A better sentence would be:

  • That medicine affects my ability to drive. Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect?


  • While F7 does find spelling errors and seems to help some of the time, it often misses things or worse yet, gives the wrong help.
  • After finding an error on the pass, F7 does not catch the same error on subsequent passes even though the problem wasn’t fixed yet. I’m not sure why that is, just know it can happen.
  • Overall, I’d give this feature a failing grade because you cannot rely on the accuracy of its error checking.

I recommend not using Word’s F7 key for spelling or for grammar checking






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