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Is Grammarly Worth It?

29 July 2019

From The Write Life:

How do you write faster with fewer errors?

No matter how long you’ve bonded with your keyboard, it’s almost impossible to avoid errors, typos and grammatical mistakes.

. . . .

Grammarly is an AI-powered product that checks online grammar, spelling and plagiarism.

While our writers have tried a number of the best grammar checker tools, Grammarly is different because of its ability to check subject-verb agreement, article and modifier placement, punctuation and irregular verb conjugations. As an added bonus, it helps you improve your writing by offering synonym suggestions.

Creating a Grammarly account is free. A free account includes basic grammar and spelling checks. When you upgrade to Premium, you get access to advanced grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, a plagiarism detector and style checks ⁠— which we’ll discuss in-depth in this review.

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Is Grammarly Premium worth it?

There are lots of free online proofreaders and spell checkers. Microsoft Word and Apple’s Pages can even detect grammatical errors, so is Grammarly worth the bang for your buck?

We tried out a premium membership, and here’s where we found the tool to be most helpful.

Polish your writing and eliminate grammar and spelling errors

There are a lot of ways to edit text based on context, tone or purpose ⁠— and Grammarly delivers on all fronts. Once a document is scanned by the AI assistant, suggestions are organized based on spelling, grammar, punctuation and clarity.

Spell check

Like most word processors, Grammarly identifies spelling mistakes in your document. If the word it spots isn’t an error, just add it to your personal dictionary.

Grammar

View mistakes on your articles by clicking on text with a yellow or red underline. You’ll see errors on subject-verb agreement, suggested corrections and the rationale behind those suggestions. Incomplete sentences and rewrites are highlighted in yellow.

. . . .

I personally think their grammar suggestions are useful, especially for students and professionals who want to improve their writing. It’s often hard to pinpoint grammatical errors and why they’re a mistake in the first place, so I appreciate that once you download Grammarly, it provides detailed explanations.

Punctuation

We know most sentences end with a period, so when do you add commas, em dashes or colons? Not only can Grammarly suggest punctuation, it also detects inconsistencies like different styles of apostrophes or quotation marks. And it comes with an “update all” option so the entire document uses a consistent style.

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Vocabulary

Have a tendency to use certain words again and again? Grammarly underlines those commonly used words and suggests specific synonyms to improve your work.

Grammarly makes suggestions based on variety, clarity, conciseness, consistency and so much more. Most online editing tools don’t go so far as to explain the rationale behind the mistake, so that’s a Grammarly feature I really appreciate. If you’re an aspiring grammar aficionado, this tool will help you learn!

Plagiarism checker

Ever received a guest post for your blog? How do you make sure some parts weren’t plagiarized?

Grammarly’s plagiarism checker scans the article and determines whether the text has a match with any page on the web. It also underlines the plagiarized text and determines its original source, so you can make sure you’re in the clear.

. . . .

Grammarly Chrome Extension

Marketers who often send email or create social media posts will be happy to know that Grammarly has a Chrome extension. Grammarly for Chrome is pretty brilliant — it lets you use the tool while writing emails and crafting social media posts.

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Set goals for writing

Here’s a feature that sets Grammarly apart from other grammar checkers: it suggests edits based on your content’s goals and audience.

Before you start writing an article, you can specify whether you’ll target general or expert readers. Choose the level of formality, and the editor can accommodate slang for informal pieces. You can even select multiple options to describe the post’s tone, domain and intent.

. . . .

For example, if I target a general audience and opt for an informal tone, I’ll get a high performance rating when the text is readable for younger audiences.

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I’ve tried several online editors — and I have to say that Grammarly is the best I’ve used so far.

I love the detailed explanations for grammatical mistakes because it helps me improve my writing in the long run. If I’m not a master of subject-verb agreement? Not sure where I should add commas? Grammarly’s got my back.

I frequently write lifestyle articles for news sites, and it’s a hassle to switch to an online thesaurus to find synonyms of commonly used words. With Grammarly’s suggested synonyms, there’s no need to find a thesaurus, which saves me time and effort.

The plagiarism checker is also useful, especially for online editors. It can be hard to spot bits and pieces of copied text, and this is the perfect solution, without needing to purchase a separate tool for this function.

Link to the rest at The Write Life

PG has used Grammarly for almost forever, but, like more than one computer user, has fallen into the trap of using it for the same things he always has. For him, the OP highlighted some additional features he needs to use more frequently.

Writing Advice, Writing Tools

14 Comments to “Is Grammarly Worth It?”

  1. I really like it. However, it has odd thoughts on commas and introductory phrases.

  2. I have enough problems as it is without something trying to fix things the wrong way for me. 😉

  3. Nope. In a national television commercial, a young woman mentions that Grammarly helps identify “really long, run-on sentences.” Only whether a sentence is run-on has nothing to do with the number of words it contains. Given that their name is “Grammarly,” that was more than enough to run me off.

  4. Richard Hershberger

    I don’t use it, but I do enjoy occasionally putting in classic texts. The first paragraph of Moby Dick comes up with seven “issues,” and that of Life on the Mississippi has eight.

    It is, by reputation, prone to false positives. My guess is that if you have the confidence to treat its results as things to check to see if they really are mistakes, rather than as declarations that these are mistakes, then it could be useful. On the other hand, given how many “issues” it flags in those two blocks of text, it might be more trouble than it is worth. In any case, it clearly is no substitute for real editing.

    • I’ve not tried it and probably never will but I find it difficult to believe that it can be as bad as Word’s grammar checker. However, my initial attempt with Word showed no problems reported in the first paragraph of Moby Dick. Even after I remembered that I’d nuked most of the checks, including all the style ones, and reversed this, only a “sentence too long” error was reported so I’m a bit bemused that Grammarly found so many problems.

      However, Word managed 15 on the Mark Twain which does tend to confirm my view that it’s a bit crap (Word that is, not Mr Clemens writing) and suggests that Grammarly my have fewer false positives overall.

      I also tried Word on the first paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities and it’s only comment was “sentence too long” which is pretty much what one would expect.

  5. I used to love automated text checking– spelling, grammar, style– I even made a few small contributions to an open source checker for OpenOffice, but I find they have diminishing returns. I use one for a few weeks and it seems to be quite helpful. But after a while, it turns into a distracting waste of time.

    I seem to internalize their good advice and then all that is left is advice I choose not to follow. Consequently, my affection for text checkers has dwindled.

  6. Spell checkers and grammar checkers are great sweep-up tools after material has been edited by a human being. We always miss something, or need to reconsider a choice. There are so many contextually relevant and stylistic aspects of writing — especially in fiction — that tools that take language literally shouldn’t be considered a substitute for thinking.

  7. I’ve never used it. With Google, Amazon, and Facebook capturing and selling the data they derive from our every click, it just seems to me that Grammerly is capturing and selling the data it derives from our every written thought.

    • This comment inspired me to examine the Grammarly terms of service and privacy policy. I came away positive with some mixed feelings.

      I am not a lawyer like PG, but I’ve worked with lawyers as a technical advisor in writing these kinds of documents.

      First, the good. I found the documents exceptionally clear and readable. And reasonable. The documents state that they do not sell your data to third parties or use it to target ads like the usual suspects, which is good. Very good.

      But the issue is more complicated. First, they say they don’t store personally identifiable information (PII). In 2019, that statement is difficult, if not impossible, for any service to make. So much information is now stored and publicly accessible and so much computing power is available, as PG pointed out a few days ago, supposedly anonymous data, if there is enough of it, can be de-anonymized fairly easily. And Grammarly has enough of it because retaining and analyzing huge quantities of data is part of their technical model.

      Secondly, only a few months ago, a dangerous vulnerability was found in the Grammarly web browser add-ins that could easily be exploited to record and divert everything uploaded to Grammarly. To their credit, they were transparent about the vulnerability and fixed it quickly. And they are not the only browser add-ins with sloppy security. Nevertheless, any software shop that leaves holes like that had better scramble to fix their issues, and there are likely to be many. They appear to have wised up, but these things don’t change overnight.

      I also took the time to read Grammarly’s security white paper. https://www.grammarly.com/about/GrammarlySecurityWhitepaper.pdf It is a nice piece of work that says the right things– I suspect it was written as CYA for breach above, but I have seen much worse and they covered the bases. If they execute what they say they are executing, they are good.

      However, I would have liked to have seen evidence of a recent industry standard security audit, such as a SOC 2 certificate from the AICPA, which would substantiate that they do what they say they are doing. Nevertheless, these audits are expensive and take time, so not having the cert is not egregious.

      All in all, for myself, I think Grammarly is one of the safer services available, but, like everything else on the network, I would only use it if I saw clear benefits because risks are present.

  8. I use it and find it useful. It’s definitely not foolproof. It tried to tell me that the name Blaire should be Claire. Still, I’ve caught some good typos with it, too.

  9. I’ve used it as the free download and the premium add in to Word. The free version had a limit of 50 pages so I lost a lot of time cutting and pasting between docs. The analytics were very helpful. The utility far outweighed the inconvenience of cut and pasting 300+ page docs 50 at a time. I subscribed to the premium add in for Word and while it is still good, I don’t get the analytics I used to get, it is slow to load, and it is buggy and stops working for no rational reason often. I need to get on the phone with support to figure out what’s going on but who has time for that?

  10. I use Pro Writing Aid. I bought the lifetime option a while back and have been very pleased with how it has worked. Like Grammarly, I do pick and choose what analytics to run on the writing and what I choose to agree or disagree with.

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