Grammarly is a service that promises to help improve your written English. Their website says it corrects up to 10 times more mistakes than popular word processors. Other features they highlight include…
- Instant proofreading
- Instantly find and correct over 250 types of grammatical mistakes
- Context-optimized vocabulary suggestion
- Plagiarism detector
The producers of Grammarly were kind enough to grant me access to their full service so I could review it, so here’s what I found…
First, you can use Grammarly in various ways. Once you are logged in to the website, you can either copy and paste text for checking, or you can choose a file from your computer and upload it.
There is also an option to download a Grammarly plug-in for Microsoft Office (or Outlook), which allows you to check documents within Word by clicking on a button in the main menu. This is the main option I used for testing purposes.
Grammarly gives you a choice of styles. The main options are Business, Academic, Medical, Technical, Creative, and Casual. In each of these categories you can choose from a number of sub-categories.
In Creative, for example, you can choose from general creative, creative non-fiction, novel, script or short story. For test purposes I used a 2500-word article I wrote for my clients at More Money Review about website flipping. I decided to select “creative nonfiction” for this.
Grammarly is switched off by default (which is good, in my view). You can activate it at any time by clicking on Enable Grammarly in Word’s main menu. Grammarly then begins its analysis. It takes just a few seconds to complete.
You are then presented with the results of the analysis. For my sample article, it listed 25 potential issues in total. These are underlined in green in the main text, and set out in more detail (with suggested corrections) in the right-hand column (see screen capture below).
Clicking on the small down arrow beside any item will reveal an explanation of the potential issue Grammarly has identified (as shown above for “will, of course,”). If you agree with this – and you won’t always – you can click on the item and the suggested correction (shown in green) will then be implemented. This is a neat, time-saving feature.
Grammarly looks for mistakes in five main categories. These are Contextual Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, and Style. You can switch all or any of these categories on or off as you wish.
You can also select Vocabulary Enhancement (which will suggest alternative words/terms you might not have considered) and Plagiarism (which checks online for similar text that may have been plagiarized). The latter is most likely to be useful if you are correcting or editing someone else’s work, of course!
One thing you can’t do is change specific types of correction, e.g. if you don’t want to be constantly reminded about use of the passive voice or you prefer to use a variant spelling for certain words. This probably won’t be a major issue for most people, though.
Some of the possible errors that Grammarly identified in my test article I didn’t agree with, and others were clearly not errors at all. For example, I had one sentence that read, “They only accept sites they believe have good sales potential, and claim a success rate of over 95 percent.”
Grammarly wanted to delete the comma after potential, but in my view that would be wrong. Deleting the comma would inject a note of ambiguity, as the reader might then think I was saying that the company in question (a website broker) only accepted sites with good sales potential AND a claimed success rate of over 95% (whatever that might mean). This is, of course, not at all what I intended.
Still, I don’t want to be too hard on Grammarly. Some false positives are inevitable with any sort of grammar-checking software, and I didn’t think the number it flagged up was excessive. And on the plus side, though I pride myself on having good grammar and punctuation, it did identify a few examples of wordiness which, on reflection, I agreed with.
Overall, I was very impressed with the 2015 version of Grammarly, which is a considerable improvement on an earlier version I looked at a few years ago. I am now using it regularly on my own work to give it a final check and polish. Of course, it’s by no means a complete substitute for a human editor, but it can undoubtedly help spruce up your writing and identify possible issues.
Grammarly is sold on a subscription basis. You can choose to pay monthly, quarterly or annually, with the latter (obviously) being the best value. There is a seven-day money-back guarantee if you find that it doesn’t meet your needs.
If you have any comments or questions about Grammarly, please post them below and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you again to Grammarly for giving me the opportunity to review their service. Please do click on any of the links in this article for more information.
- If you’re looking to improve your grammar and punctuation and bring your writing up to a publishable standard, I also strongly recommend my downloadable course Essential English for Authors. I talked about that in detail in this blog post.
- See also my new page about Grammarly in the Recommended Resources section. I will be posting news and offers related to Grammarly here.