I recently read this argument about why syntax coloring/highlighting is not useful when writing code. The article featured this image of syntax-colored English text:

A paragraph of English text with parts of speech colored differently

While the article argues against the readability of this text, I actually think it could be quite useful for writers, for instance to make sure they don't overuse the same verb or use too many pronouns. So I was wondering if there was any software that provides syntax coloring for the English language.

Such software should be able to detect parts of speech (such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc). Detection for things like comment-like breaks-- for instance, this section here-- or quotations would also be appreciated, but not necessary. The best answer would be the one that offers the most complete solution, as I do realize that fully implementing this idea would be nearly impossible due to the complexities of the English language.

Cross-platform would be nice, but I'm looking specifically for something that works on Windows.


2 Answers 2


Hemingway Editor

This app helps you improve your writing by highlighting complex and meandering sentences. Apart from that, it also highlights adverbs, passive voice as well as phrases with simpler alternatives. This isn't actually syntax highlighting- more like spotting writing errors, but it might work for you.

(source: hemingwayapp.com)

If the web app doesn't cut it for you, there's also a Desktop version here.

  • From the screenshot I'd say that this suggestion does not fulfill the requirement of "syntax highlighting". It highlights seldom words, but does not distinguish nouns from verbs. Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 7:09
  • I think this solution tackles the problem quite well. Syntax highlighting in code involves emphasis of certain structures and syntax. In writing, this is quite different. Highlighting all the verbs or nouns in a text isn't necessary or particularly useful. Instead, a solution like that above may offer a more effective form of highlighting.
    – Huey
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 10:30
  • Yes, that's what the linked article says. But OP stated: " I actually think it could be quite useful for writers, for instance to make sure they don't overuse the same verb" Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 10:58
  • Objectively, the Hemingway Editor is useful for writers. In any case, highlighting repeated occurrences of the same word isn't as much syntax highlighting as it is frequency analysis. Still, I defer to OP's opinion.
    – Huey
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 12:10

iA Writer is a cross OS app that does syntax highlighting.

Also not an app per se, but it's free and web based English Syntax Highlighter and a Chrome extension using it.

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