Is Grammarly the Best Online Grammar Checker?
Is it Worth Paying for Grammarly Premium, or Should We Just Use The Free Version?
(This post was written by Guest Writer Thomas Greenbank. https://thomasgreenbank.com)
Most of us have heard about Grammarly; many of you may be wondering whether it’s worth buying Premium, or whether we should just stick with the free version.
One thing I can tell you is that if we want to be taken seriously as content creators, we need to write well-structured articles. Spelling and grammatical errors do not belong in our work.
This applies not only to online copywriters and bloggers but actually to anyone who writes for the public. (Especially authors, but that’s another issue altogether)
I’ve been using Grammarly Free for quite some time now, and I can tell you I’ve been delighted with just how efficiently it not only picks up my typos and grammar faux-pas but actually shows me what’s wrong and explains why. When I decided to seriously consider upgrading to Grammarly Premium, I figured I might as well turn my research into a blog post.
After using it for around four years, I can attest that Grammarly is the best free grammar checker for proofreading on the fly. If you’ve been following this website you’ll know that in addition to my online work I’m also an author. Two tools that I couldn’t be without as an author are Scrivener and Grammarly. (Scrivener I’ll cover in another post.)
So What is Grammarly, and How Does it Work?
Grammarly is an app or extension that works in your browser, or your word processor of choice, and checks your grammar, spelling, and more in real-time as you write. No more going back and forth over your finished project looking for the odd error (there’s always one or more) and still finding later that you missed something. The Premium version even has a built-in plagiarism checker.
As you type, any error Grammarly picks up is highlighted with a red bar. When you hover over the red area it shows you what it thinks you meant to write, or what it feels you should have written. Of course, you can choose to ignore the recommendations or to add the word to its dictionary if it doesn’t recognise a term you may use frequently.
This is the way I use it. If you don’t have it installed on your computer (or whatever you write on), you can upload your work to the website and bulk edit the whole thing. The downside to that, of course, is that it could interfere with the flow of your work if you have to make too many changes at once.
Free or Premium—Which one to Choose?
As I said earlier, I’ve been using the free version of Grammarly for ages now. If you’re just looking for something to pick up and correct any errors that creep into your work then you really can’t go past Grammarly free. Worldwide, over 10 million people trust Grammarly, so you’ll be in good company.
If, however, you’re after all the bells and whistles Grammarly has to offer, you might want to upgrade to the Premium version.
The main features of Grammarly are as follows:
Basic Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation Checks.
This is the feature that Grammarly is most renowned for, and is the one feature in this list that’s available in the free version. As I mentioned earlier, it reads your text on the fly, as you write, and makes recommendations that you can either accept or ignore. You can set your preferences as to whether you want Grammarly to operate in en-us, en-uk, or en-au. I’m in Australia, so I have it set for standard Aussie spelling. When I write a post targeting US visitors, it highlights any US spelling I enter. (color, realize, etc)
I personally tend to accept about 90% of the recommendations. The things I mostly disregard the program on are commas. I tend to write longer sentences and I’ll often break them up using commas, dashes, semi-colons etc. I know it’s not always grammatically correct but it gives my work the flow that I like. Long live the Oxford Comma!
I made a quick video here, to show just how easy it is to use Grammarly.
Advanced Grammar Checking.
At this level, Grammarly will pick up further nuances in grammar as well as alliteration, fragmented sentences, comma splices, run-on sentences, and more.
It will also tell you exactly what the problem is and why you should fix it. In effect, you’ll be getting a lesson in grammar and spelling with every document you create. Before long, you’ll find yourself being corrected less and less as your own skills improve. You can even think of Grammarly as your own personal English Writing Tutor.
Have you ever paused while writing a piece and thought ‘there must be a more fitting word than that’? Then had to break concentration to consult an online thesaurus for the word you need. Well, Grammarly has your back. Double click on any word in your document and Grammarly will show you a list of synonyms to choose from. You then simply click the one you prefer and Grammarly will insert it as a replacement.
Double-clicking on a word in a web page or online article will automatically show you the meaning. These two interconnected features alone will soon extend your vocabulary greatly.
Genre Specific Writing Checks.
With Grammarly Premium you can select the writing style you’re aiming for; be it formal, chatty, dramatic, whatever, and the program will adjust its correction algorithm to suit. No matter whether you’re writing an advanced technical treatise or an email to your bestie, you’ll be able to capture the exact nuances required.
This feature is possibly the most underrated feature of Grammarly. In this mode it helps with sentence length and structure, even highlighting overused or repeated words that so often creep into our work.
Plagiarism doesn’t always happen intentionally. In fact, I’d say it rarely does. These days it’s just too easy to discover and many have found themselves in hot water over something they thought was original.
With Grammarly, you can check your finished articles against billions of online resources to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. Then you can hit the publish button with confidence, knowing your article is truly unique.
What does Grammarly Premium Cost?
You can pay for Grammarly Premium monthly, at $29.95 per month. (Prices quoted here are in USD, and were correct at the time of writing—March 2021)
A more economical alternative is the quarterly option; $59.95 (works out to $19.98/month)
An even better option is to pay annually. This will set you back $139.95, (or $11.66/month)
Who is Grammarly Best For?
Well pretty much anybody who does a lot of writing while connected to the internet. That could be professional or semi-professional writers. bloggers, authors, clerical workers, almost anyone who has the need to type any sort of written content. Just remember; it is an online program. You’ll need to be connected for it to work.
The only real decision is: Do I need to pay for Premium? If you’re happy with the basic grammar/spelling correction or even if you’re unsure, I’d recommend giving the free version a try.
If it does what you need, then stick with it. You can always update at any time in the future.
Do We Really Need a Grammar Checker?
Consider this: No matter what we write online, whether it’s an essay, an article, or a simple email, we are judged on what we write. Your writing represents who you really are. Sure, most readers will overlook or maybe not even notice your grammar slip-ups, but there are many who will notice. Good (or bad) grammar means little to those who don’t know the difference; bad grammar means a whole lot to those who do.
Is Grammarly User-Friendly?
Very much so. In fact, you won’t even know it’s there until you make a faux pas and the system picks it up. Once installed, you never need to do anything but follow the Grammarly prompts.
Having Grammarly installed doesn’t do away with the need for a real human editor. If you’re working on a project where you’d normally require an editor’s input, having Grammarly won’t change that.
Is it infallible? Definitely not! Modern English is very complicated and constantly evolving. We can’t expect a computer algorithm to keep pace with the never-ending addition of slang and informal terms, as well as the subtle nuances of modern speech. That’s why we have the option of overriding or ignoring Grammarly’s suggestions.
Is it accurate? Re-read that last paragraph. Grammarly is as accurate as any such product can be. Much more accurate than any other such program I’ve seen or tried so far.
How Customisable is Grammarly?
With Premium, when you open a new document, you can pre-select your writing goals based on various parameters. These could include:
Your Intent (to inform, describe, convince, tell a story)
Your Audience (general or expert)
Your Chosen Style (formal or informal)
Emotion Required (mild or strong)
Domain (academic, business, technical).
By adjusting these settings you help Grammarly decide which issues to flag or ignore. Grammarly will also deliver some extra insights based on these goals.
All of these selections allow Grammarly to customise its response to various different ways you present your copy. Technical terms and jargon, for example, will be fine if you’re writing for a specialist audience, while slang and humour might seem out of place.
All in all, Grammarly is evolving constantly towards the stage where it will become almost like having a real-life grammar coach sitting beside you as you work.
Are There Alternatives to Grammarly?
Yes, there are. In fact, I’ll be doing a follow-up article comparing Grammarly with the most popular alternatives. For now, though, let me assure you it’s definitely up there in the value-for-money stakes, as well as ease of use. Download the free version now, and see for yourself.
Update: March 16, 2021. Here’s the link to my comparison review of the leading grammar checkers on the market. As a long-term user of Grammarly, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and features of two or three of the other tools out there. So much so, that I’ve revised my opinion somewhat. Take a look and see for yourself.
I’ll be leaving this review unchanged, however, as it does accurately reflect my opinion at the time. I still maintain that Grammarly represents excellent value for money.
So there’s my Grammarly Review. I hope you found it informative.
Have you tried Grammarly or any other grammar-checking software?
Join the conversation via the Comments Box below.
Cheers for now.