Everyone, including professional writers, makes mistakes in their writing. Even when you get the basics down, hunting down higher-level grammar and style nuances can be overwhelming. Grammarly, an online grammar and spelling assistant, can help out in those scenarios.
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Everyone, including professional writers, makes mistakes in their writing. Even when you get the basics down, hunting down higher-level grammar and style nuances can be overwhelming. Grammarly, an online grammar and spelling assistant, can help out in those scenarios. This app for writers suggests spelling, grammar, and style changes in real time and can even edit for specific genres. Although its paid subscriptions are a bit expensive and the service does not work offline, Grammarly’s wide range of supported platforms and ease of use make it well worth the cost.
Improving Grammar (Almost) Everywhere
Grammarly costs $29.95 per month, $59.95 per quarter, or $139.95 per year. If this price seems high, know that Grammarly frequently offers subscription discounts. For the price of entry, you get customized checks for different document types, a plagiarism filter, and a function to help diversify your vocabulary, among other extras. Grammarly also offers a limited free version that checks for critical spelling and grammar errors. For businesses, there’s a $10-per-member-per-month subscription with admin and management controls, with a three-user minimum.
Grammarly offers native desktop clients for both Windows and macOS, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, and a Microsoft Office£7.99 at Microsoft add-in (Windows only). Grammarly is also usable on Android and iOS via a mobile keyboard app, which I discuss later.
Recently, Grammarly announced support for two other major writing platforms: Google Docs and Medium. Note that, at the time of publishing, the Google Docs integration only works via the Chrome browser and is still rolling out to users. Nonetheless, both expansions are welcome updates, and most users should now be able to use Grammarly on their preferred platform. Still, I would like to see Grammarly added to Office on the Mac, Apple’s iWork Suite, and Libre Office for Linux users.
Getting Started and Security
Grammarly checks your writing against its database of content and style errors as well as anonymously collected data from its daily active users. The downside of this real-time model is that Grammarly requires an internet connection to work. In use, Grammarly underlines critical mistakes in red (spelling and basic grammar), and advanced errors in yellow (style and best practices), though the latter capability is limited to premium users. Hovering over any of the indicated words or phrases brings up the option to fix the error directly or read a more-detailed explanation of the mistake.
I appreciate the descriptions’ clear language and use of sample sentences to illustrate mistakes. It’s more detailed than what you get with the built-in grammar checkers of both Google Docs and Office 365. I also find the error count that Grammarly adds at the bottom of every document to be an efficient way of showing how much editing work I have left.
However, you need to be aware of the potential privacy and security risks of Grammarly, since it actively checks everything you type.
I installed the Grammarly Desktop app on my Windows 10 machine and had no issues signing in to my account. The app looks great and the layout is highly functional; I particularly like the side panel’s dark accents and minimalist icons. However, I would prefer if Grammarly managed its desktop app via the Windows Store, since those apps are limited in what they can access on your system. Users can choose between composing text directly in an editor and importing an existing document. Grammarly recommends using the import feature to preserve text formatting, but it didn’t retain paragraph spacing when I imported a test Word document. I wish that the composer included basic paragraph and text formatting features to avoid this issue when moving between applications.
Click on the Profile icon to make edits to your personal dictionary and switch your writing language between a few different variants of English: American, Australian, British, and Canadian. Grammarly is not currently available in any other language than English, so it won’t supplement language learning software—unless, of course, you are trying to learn English. Within a document, the right side of the window houses tabs for spelling and grammar errors, premium writing checks, a plagiarism checker, a human proofreader option, and an overall writing score based on these factors. As mentioned earlier, this score is helpful for getting a quick check of your writing progress and how much revising you have left.
Grammarly recently introduced two new features in the desktop application: Goals and Insights. Goals launches whenever you import a new document; it helps Grammarly adjust its edits based on the context of your writing. For example, you can specify your intent (inform, describe, convince, tell a story), audience, style, and emotion. Premium users can choose between different writing domains, including Academic, Technical, and Creative. The Insights popup shows you general data such as word count and reading time, in addition to vocabulary and readability metrics. These metrics are calculated based on comparison with other Grammarly users and the Readability score is based on the Flesch reading-ease test. Both additions make Grammarly more useful at a higher level than that of simple error checking.
On the web, the Grammarly plug-in reviews everything you write in real time, from composing emails to jotting down notes. The extension marks mistakes with underlines the same way it does on any other platform, and you can click on each word to get more information about the error. Note that if you work within a content management system, Grammarlymay insert code into the source text at the spot of the error. It is never a good idea to have inconsistent or unnecessary code on any page or article.
The Microsoft Office Add-in lives as a menu item in the Office Ribbon for both Word and Outlook. You can toggle the types of issues that you want to view in your current document, including spelling, punctuation, and style errors. Grammarly opens as a sidebar window and shows mistakes in a contextual location within the document. Click on the specific corrections to see details. Keep in mind that enabling Grammarly disables the Ctrl-Z keyboard shortcut, as well as revision tracking. Word’s built-in grammar and style checker is not affected by either of these actions.
A Useful Companion
I found myself using Grammarly quite a bit. You could argue that Grammarly encourages lazy writing and that’s at least partially accurate, as some people will take advantage of its thorough checks without bothering to learn from the insight it provides. It’s well suited for people actively looking to improve their writing but still caters to users who aren’t aware that they need help. However, Grammarly’s real value is its ability to highlight your most common mistakes and help you avoid them going forward. Occasionally, I did find the real-time edits distracting in my testing and disabled Grammarly so that I could finish typing a thought without being interrupted. Grammarly might be more useful during the revision portion of your writing process as a final check for errors and inconsistencies.
I was hard-pressed to find much of a difference between the free version of Grammarly and the built-in spelling, grammar, and style checker in the latest version of Microsoft Office. Both correctly identified spelling errors, convoluted phrases, and incorrect grammar usage. However, I found Grammarly’s advanced editing checks, which help you clean up all the middling grammar tidbits, suggest alternatives to commonly used words, as well as provide contextual edits for the sake of clarity, highly useful. For example, Grammarly is a stickler for getting rid of unnecessary commas. Another clear benefit of Grammarly is that it works in more places across your workflow.
Occasionally, both Grammarly and Office make wrong suggestions, which proves that you still need to pay attention to edits instead of just mindlessly accepting them. For example, it suggested I add an article in a few places that didn’t require one. Still, some users might not like the omission of an “Accept All” button strictly for some of the more rudimentary spacing and comma usage errors. Note that even authorities on grammar, such as AP, Merriam Webster, and Oxford sometimes disagree on some rules like hyphenation and capitalization, so no grammar-checking tool is perfect. For instance, Grammarly suggested I capitalize the word “kanban,” since “it appears that the word kanban may be a proper noun in this context,” even though Merriam Webster and Oxford do not do so.
Each week, Grammarly sends an email recapping your writing activity, called Grammarly Insights. This provided me some helpful information, such as the three most common errors I made, as well as metrics that mostly correspond with what the Insights tab shows from the desktop editor. It also highlighted some neat statistics, such as how many words it checked and how many unique words I used.
Grammarly’s keyboard app is available on both Android and iOS devices. I tested the app on my Google Pixel running Android 9. As you might expect, the Grammarly keyboard helps you correct grammar and spelling errors as you go. It’s useful for everything from writing emails to composing social media posts to editing long-form documents.
In Settings, you can select either the light or dark color theme, choose whether to show key borders and the number row, or toggle vibration, sound, and popup on keypress. I like that you can even adjust the keyboard height on the screen. Grammarly looks very similar to Gboard, though it is missing a few key Gboard features. For example, Grammarly currently does not support swipe typing, though the company says it is working on adding that feature. It also lacks all of Gboard’s extras that push you to Google services, such as web search and translation. That said, I appreciate the clean design and don’t think feature parity should be Grammarly’s goal. Power users may disagree.
As you type, Grammarly pops up suggestions and corrections automatically. You can swipe through and accept these changes with ease or hit the green Grammarly icon in the upper-left corner to check it again. If you tap on individual edits, Grammarly opens a card-based interface with more in-depth explanations. The experience is fluid, and it’s easy to go through edits quickly. As in the app’s desktop counterpart, the keyboard edits and suggestions are usually helpful and accurate, especially if you pay for the full version. The auto-correct for spelling is just as good as what you get with the standard keyboard, but its corrective grammar edits are its biggest appeal.
The keyboard settings are fairly robust. In addition to the appearance and behavior settings I already mentioned, Grammarly lets you change basic editing options. You can toggle auto-correction and auto-capitalization options, select a language preference (American, Australian, British, or Canadian English), and even allow it to suggest contact names as you type. The remaining sections let you give feedback, access the support portal, or switch accounts.
Grammarly Improves Your Writing
Grammarly’s thoroughness when it comes to spelling, grammar, and style suggestions is its greatest strength. The premium version is a luxury at $29.95 per month, but writers of all kinds can benefit from adding Grammarly to their workflow. Although we would still like to see an offline mode and support for Microsoft Office on the Mac, recent additions, such as Google Docs support and new features for the desktop editor, make Grammarly easy to recommend.