Mac Libs

Mac Libs is a program for the Macintosh for studying grammar in an amusing way. You can create story templates with "holes" that are filled in with specific grammatical constructs (like nouns, verbs, etc.) or any arbitrary categories (like names, colors, etc.). Words can be typed in at runtime or chosen at random from a dictionary. Grammatical rules can be programmed in a HyperCard-like language. For example, the "verb past tense" rule will convert any verb to past tense. If the rules are correct and the appropriate words are chosen, the generated story will be grammatically correct, though frequently silly, and always amusing (to me, anyway).

How does Mac Libs work?

Mac Libs comes with a bunch of ready-made story templates, but you can also create your own (or modify existing ones) in the story template editor as shown on the right (click on images to enlarge).

When you want to generate a story, you choose the template you want, and the numbers enclosed in the double brackets are automatically replaced with words from the appropriate word categories. You can also have Mac Libs prompt you to supply your own words interactively.

Mac Libs also comes with a bunch of ready-made word categories, but you can also create your own (or modify existing ones) in the word editor as shown on the right.

The word categories can have rules associated with them to transform the words. The example on the left shows a rule that transforms a verb into the past participle form. These rules can be applied automatically when a story is generated. And since no rule is perfect, and many English words have exceptions, you can assign exceptions to any word for any rule.

Words categories can also define properties which can be associated with any word. The rules can test these properties, and story templates can look for words that have a specific property. For example, you might want your story to use a verb, but only a verb with the "transitive" property.