Why do you need to read this Grammarly Review?
Why do I need a proofreading software?
I will provide the answer to this broad question with a positive and compelling argument.
Whether you do writing for a living or as a hobby, what are the most important aspects you want to ensure in your writing to ensure its proficiency?
British or American English spellings consistency, correct punctuation, eradication of major errors like comma splice errors, immersive sentence structuring and many more aspects like these right? However, unsurprisingly it is a human nature of having a deterrence and hesitation towards checking one’s work for errors.
After spending a lot of quality time on a piece of work, a human’s nature generally starts to believe that the work done is one of the best pieces of writing ever done and at this point, the work of a critic is really essential. It is vital because a critic forces the author off his high-horse position and lets him or her find out the negative aspects of their writing.
Keep the following part of a famous quote from the famous movie Ratatouille in your mind before moving forward to have an honest and judgmental look at one of the most renowned automatic online critic of English language writing:
“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”
Therefore, this means that every piece of work is thrived to make better by negative and positive criticism. This is what Grammarly offers. After having one year experience in using Grammarly, I am writing this honest review to guide my readers to a decision of whether or not to use and buy licensed Grammarly. It works as a virtual critic to identify flaws and various aspects in any writing including:
- Improving any typed text, essay, article or blog post.
- Eliminates grammatical errors(both minor and major)
- Suggests good synonyms to replace overused words
- Enhances vocabulary by using correct words in context of the written work
- Highlights minor or major errors in day to day text written in social messages or posts
- Detects Plagiarism
- Helps with indirect speech
- Confused prepositions
- Overuse of the passive voice
- Wordy sentences
- Repetitive words
- Common writing mistakes like misplaced apostrophes or comma splices
and much more!
You might be amazed:
Grammarly also offers integration into Microsoft and Google software like MS Word and Google Chrome as a plugin. Now it might raise a question in your mind that what is the use of this software as a plugin for a web browser? The simple answer to this is that improvement in your quality of English comes from grass root level.
It is not necessary to be a professional author or have writing pieces to check your common mistakes. Even a message to your mom or dad or any family member might contain small errors, which if corrected and learnt from lead to significant improvement in English skills.
Did I make a mistake in the last sentence?
Here comes the confusion: Many of you might have overlooked a small confusion in the last sentence that I wrote and here is the confusion that Grammarly pointed out through the Chrome Plugin and it is:
Many of you might have thought that the word “learnt” is not correct whereas others might have thought that is it correctly used. The dilemma is that “learnt” is a British English spelling and with consistency with other spellings that I have utilized in this article, I should rather use the American version which is “learned” not “learnt”. Grammarly pointed this inconsistency issue through the Chrome Plugin. Realized how tricky English could be?
Why not the built in Word processing software’s grammar and spelling checkers?
It should be clear in my reader’s mind that the autocorrect and spell-check tools most word processors have are great, but they only amount to a single line of defense. There are various softwares for proofreading and plagiarism checking like Ginger Software, Proofread Bot and much more so why particularly Grammarly? Is it worth the claims? Let us see.
What the are the various products and plugins Grammarly offers?
- Microsoft Office
- Chrome Extension
Grammarly believes that it is the litmus test for writing pieces. It covers the following two plans:
- Grammarly Free
- Grammarly Premium
- What are Grammarly Free features?
1. Contextual spelling check2. Grammar and punctuation check
3. Sentence structure and style checking
- What are Grammarly Premium features?
- Passive Voice Check
- Repetitive Word Check
- Plagiarism Check
- Word Confusion Check
- Wordiness Check
- Confusion Check
- Document identifier
- Vocabulary enhancement
- Professional proofreading services(extra costs incurred)
Let me walk you through the process of using Grammarly Chrome Plugin and the rest of the plugins work much like that. After installation of Grammarly Plugin for Chrome, you get the option to form a free account. As soon as you make this account, you get your dashboard to customize your Grammarly according to your needs. Have a look at what the dashboard looks like without Premium Plan and with a Premium Plan respectively:
Although some features are not available at this point in Grammarly Free but the option to switch between American/British spellings and a personal dictionary is awarded to add any word that you are certain is right, but it is not in the dictionary of Grammarly.
It also has a tab of “My Grammarly” which offers a library for you to type your writing pieces where it is checked in real-time by the virtual critic. In a piece of writing, there are some critical errors and others are advanced errors. In both versions, the correction process is as easy as a single-click process. However, advanced writing errors are not covered in Grammarly Free Plan which is evident in the following screenshot:
As you can notice, the yellow colored subscript says “Advanced Issues” but it asks for an Upgrade to the Premium version.
After having Premium version, the advanced issues correction underlined in yellow color is available as shown in the following screenshot:
Now the big question: Is it worth spending $29.95/month or $59.95/quarter or $139.95/year on Grammarly? The pricing plans are shown in the following screenshot from official Grammarly website:
Till the stage of Grammarly Free plan, everyone might admire its capabilities, but when a payment plan is involved, it becomes necessary to have a crystal clear review of the pros and cons of this software.
First of all, don’t ever expect that a computer can replace a human brain. This might seem unrealistic in this era of machines and computers, but a famous quote supports this stance:
“One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”
Therefore do not expect that it can replace the intelligence of a proficient human proofreader. However, in comparison with other proofreading softwares, it offers intuitive and easy correction process with more than 250 types of grammar mistakes in six distinct writing genres along with plagiarism checking.
The Exclusive Features and their Evaluation
Its exclusive features include Grammarly informative flash cards which are based on the common writing mistakes you make. Moreover, the Personal Writing Handbook on the dashboard of your account provides a comparison and track record of the grammatical or spelling errors made in each piece of writing. This allows you to have a look on your progress in learning from your highlighted mistakes and not repeating them in your future work. A good record keeping book indeed.
An example of the flash card is shown below:
Having identified the first exclusive feature, let us look at some features not as proficient as they are claimed by Grammarly. The first one is the document identifier. This feature basically helps identify a piece of writing as a letter, blog post, article, email etc. I personally used this feature to identify many different pieces of writing and unfortunately, Grammarly got confused between various types of writing and often wrongly identified.
Related to document identification, there is a particular niche of writing where Grammarly lacks. It is in fictional writing checking. Generally, fictional writing is more prone to grammatical mistakes and unfortunately, Grammarly overlooked some errors. As a solution to this, Grammarly offers human proofreading services at $0.02/word but as argued by many including myself, why should we pay for human services of Grammarly which claims accurate virtual proofreading services.
Comparison of each ‘claimed’ aspect:
- Contextual spelling testing: After comprehensively checking this feature, I found out that Grammarly correctly identifies obvious flaws in spellings. Some examples are “cource” instead of “source” and “riting” instead of “writing”. However, where it got confused was in the use of it’s and its. It did detect this error but while it highlighted the incorrect use of ‘it’s’ in the final sentence, it suggested ‘it has’ rather than ‘its’ which was absolutely not correct considering contextual spellings.
- Grammar and Punctuation marks: One of the most common and major grammatical mistake writers make is of the comma splice. I checked this feature by various sentences so I would use a sentence example to evaluate this feature. Example: My mother told me that she remembered her teachers, Susan and Maria, she could told you how their voices sounded when they was happy? Now this sentence contains a mixture of very definite and complex errors. Common errors in this sentence that Grammarly detected easily are a comma splice (. . . Maria, she . . .), use of the wrong tense of the verb “tell,” and an instance of subject-verb disagreement with (they was). Grammarly gave correct recommendations for replacing comma splice by semi colon or adding an “and” after the comma or replacing the comma with a period and capitalizing the word “she”. Similarly, Grammarly in the morning replacing “told” with “be told” or “tell” and replacement of “was” by “were”.
However, on the contrary, the place where Grammarly failed to satisfy is the detection of the question mark error at the end of the sentence. Moreover, at some other stances, I found out that Grammarly got confused in placing a comma in a list of words. It basically got confused in a list of names, things and suggested commas even if there were only two persons or things involved in a list.
- Style, sentence structuring and vocabulary improvement: Let’s again use some examples to test this feature because short examples are helpful to qualitatively evaluate. The example of a short sentence is: “Having done the computer homework, the movie cast would begin”. Evaluating this sentence, Grammarly correctly identified the error of a dangling modifier i.e. “Having done the computer work” doesn’t relate to “movie cast.” However, in this case, Grammarly did not offer any recommendation and just asked to consider rewriting this to avoid the error.
Moreover, the use of full stop should be before or after speech marks. This question will be a source of confusion for many of my readers I believe but the rule is: In American English, the full stop is placed inside the quotation marks and in British English, vice versa. However, Grammarly failed to identify this error based on American or British English and it allowed both options without pointing out the confusion.
The next instance to check Grammarly was comparison error checking. Take the sentence: “Maria’s grades were better.” Grammarly correctly pointed out the comparison error in this sentence and stated “better than whom” with a missing comparison object or person.
Now I checked if it catches wordiness, incomplete sentences and unimpressive sentence structural flow and Grammarly caught it with a sharp eye. I am not mentioning the whole of the long paragraph which contained wordiness in a lot of aspects but just evaluating honestly what Grammarly caught greatly by a small example: “Had a breakfast in the morning.” Grammarly impressively pointed out two major mistakes in this sentence. First is the incomplete sentence structure about (who?) had the breakfast. Second is the wordiness issue i.e. breakfast is presumably in morning, so there is no need to write “breakfast in the morning”.
- British English vs American English test: Let me first clarify that a software’s ability to distinguish and identify British vs American spellings consistency is not the whole story. A good proofreading software must also detect American vs British consistency in style of writing in a sentence or a paragraph or perhaps an entire article or blog post. Let’s again use some short sentence examples:
1) The flock were flying.
2) John had a nap.
3) I will go there at the weekend.
4) This sentence is different to the last one.
5) I liked the flavour and colour of it.
Let us first jot down the British/American English confusions these sentences contain:
1) “were” with “flock” – correct in British
2) “had” a nap – correct in British
3) “at” the weekend – correct in British
4) “to” the last one – correct in British
5) “flavour” and “colour” are British spellings
Now having chosen American English in my Grammarly preferences on my dashboard window, Grammarly pointed out only a few inconsistencies:
1) “were” with flock is incorrect
2) spellings of colour and flavour
This is a point where I doubt the claims made by Grammarly to a great extent. As you can see, the examples contained no complex American/British English inconsistencies and therefore, if Grammarly claims to check whole articles or essays for inconsistencies, it may be an exaggeration in comparison to failure to identify American/British errors in simple and short sentences.
- Last but not the least – Plagiarism checker: Keep the following claim of Grammarly in view before reading my evaluation of this feature:
“Our plagiarism feature compares your content against a library of over 8 billion web pages, so you’ll never have to worry about unintentionally borrowing content.”
Having said this, I was skeptical of such a claim and decided to scrutinize this to a great depth to measure value vs price of this software.
I started by copying a long paragraph of an article from www.economist.com and amazingly, Grammarly detected the content to be 100% plagiarized. Following this, I used some excerpts from less-commonly known websites and Grammarly impressed by detecting all plagiarism yet again. However, the darker side came when I changed just a few words in the same copied paragraph and Grammarly then resulted in giving a 0% plagiarism report. I did not expect this in a rather expensive virtual proofreader and plagiarism checker in comparison to its peers like Ginger software at just $89.88/annum.The purpose of all these individual checks was solely to aid my readers to make a right choice. Hard earned money should be spent wisely, and for that, everyone needs a first-hand and honest review.
Therefore, the following evaluations can be conclusively made:
–> Realistically, Grammarly can solve 65%-70% of overall writing errors.
–> Plagiarism checker is good but not artificially intelligent to detect deep plagiarism.
Now: All of the above-mentioned pros and cons were to make a balance of qualities and flaws for each respective feature claimed. Now let me highlight some general software flaws that you must keep in mind before making a decision:
- Grammarly can only handle documents up to 65 pages at most
- Only works online
- The WordPress integration often messes up if complicated themes are involved
- Occasionally gets caught in a loop and recommends a change and then reversing it over and over again
But what is great about Grammarly is the Money Back Guarantee of 7 days. Thus, if you are buying Grammarly for the first time and if you are not impressed by what you get in first seven days, then without any inquiries, the money is fully refunded.
Therefore, concluding my comprehensive review of Grammarly, I can safely make the following recommendation:
–> If you have ample amount to spend on a proofreader and plagiarism software and the amount is sleek for you, go for it. It helps eliminate at least 65-70% errors in your writing and helps you join the learning process through flash cards and Personal Writing Handbook. It also allows correcting spelling slip errors which are common after getting tired doing a lot of writing. However, do not believe that after Grammarly has checked your writing, it is a perfect piece of writing. Do check it manually. Believe in the power of the fastest computer=brain!
–> Remember, Word Plugin of Grammarly is only available for Windows and Mac users still have to wait for this feature on Word.
–> If the amount seems heavy according to your budget, do not spend this much amount. Go for the basic Grammarly Free version and just point out critical mistakes with its help. Having some thing is better than nothing.
Check out the video below and comment in the section below on what you think of this software. Happy Writing!