Strong writing skills can really help you stand out in the working world. This Grammarly review looks at whether a piece of software can really help you enhance them. It considers whether – as the many adverts say – you really need Grammarly.
In this Grammarly review we investigate the who, what and why of this often-advertised online editor, so you can decide if it’s right for you. Does Grammarly live up to its own hype? Will it genuinely improve your productivity and enhance your words?
Let’s find out.
IMPORTANT: This review of Grammarly is written by a genuine user who pays for the product’s Premium version.
What is Grammarly?
Grammarly is an online editing tool designed to make your writing the best it can be. With its help, you can check and correct the basics — spelling, punctuation, and grammar — and enhance vocabulary, structure, and tone to make your writing clear and altogether readable.
You can use Grammarly on its platform or install the app on your computer, tablet, or phone to check your written words across multiple apps and websites.
Is Grammarly Legit?
Grammarly is a legitimate company offering a credible digital product. It will catch your written errors before you broadcast them to the world, just as it promises.
Grammarly makes money from selling its premium product and from advertising on the free version. To this end, its advertising is aggressive. Show even a smidgen of interest, and you’ll be seeing Grammarly advertisements wherever you look on the web!
Pricing: How Much is Grammarly?
Can you Get Grammarly Free?
There is a free version of Grammarly available, but as with most software, you get what you pay for.
Grammarly has a free version which checks your spelling and punctuation, and looks for certain grammatical errors. Once you link it with your accounts, it will work across emails, Facebook, Microsoft Word, Google Docs and much more to ensure you present your best writing to the world.
There is no time limit. You can use it free forever if you want. But be prepared to put up with advertising and many prompts to upgrade.
Grammarly Premium Pricing
Grammarly Premium isn’t particularly cheap. The product comes with three payment options:
• Monthly — US$29.95 — billed each month.
• Quarterly Subscription — US$19.98/month (billed as one payment of $59.95).
• Annual Subscription — US$11.66/month (billed as one payment of $139.95).
It’s worthwhile carefully weighing up these pricing options. If you occasionally need to use Grammarly Premium you might just choose to pay when you need it. However, if you continually want the premium features and can justify paying nearly $140 in one lump sum, then it’s cheaper overall to pay annually.
Recently, the company added a third tier called Grammarly Business. This is designed for teams of three or more people.
Grammarly discounts do appear from time to time. If you sign up for the free version and keep an eye on your emails, offers of discounted premium membership do appear from time to time.
Grammarly Review: Our Experiences
How often do you write?
Whoever said that the written word was dying out couldn’t have been more wrong. Even with the proliferation of audio and videos online, it seems that we’re writing more than ever.
Today, just for example, I:
• Dashed off three emails and multiple SMS texts.
• Wrote an article.
• Wrote a newsletter.
• Spent ages perfecting pitches to clients.
• Commented on Facebook.
• Sent a plea for a personal communication instead of an automated response.
None of that content will disappear as soon as it’s read. Some will be findable for years. So, to ensure that mistakes don’t clog my copy and muddy its meaning, I check everything with Grammarly — and I’m amazed at how many errors it catches.
How to Download the Grammarly App
According to Grammarly’s Q&As, you are able to use it on any device.
Once you’ve opened your account, click the relevant button, and follow the simple instructions.
You can also simply bookmark the Grammarly website and use your account there.
Whichever you choose, be aware that Grammarly doesn’t work offline — even if you’ve downloaded it — so you’ll always need an active internet connection to use it.
Does Grammarly work on a Mac?
Grammarly’s app works on Mac computers. Grammarly has now released a version that works with Microsoft Word for Macs as well, although you still can’t use it across the whole Office suite.
Beware of outdated online advice that says Grammarly doesn’t work properly on a Mac!
Many Grammarly users love its real-time editing function.
They want to write one draft and press “Send.” It can save time and potentially embarrassing mistakes when Grammarly edits and corrects as you write.
Or you can use Grammarly to edit after you write.
It’s worth noting that for anything more than a quick email message, creating, editing, and proofreading are different processes.
Even great writers confess that their first drafts are awful. When creating, your thoughts need to flow. You’re getting the words written any which way you can. Distractions like “put a comma here” and “use a different word there” don’t help.
But, when you’re in editing mode, you need every error highlighted.
That’s why I turn Grammarly off when I need to concentrate on writing, and then upload or copy and paste the document into Grammarly when I’m in editing and proofreading mode.
Alternatively, you can turn Grammarly on to work directly in Word or Google Docs. That’s a good option if you’ve done a lot of formatting, but I think the setup is quicker and clearer in Grammarly’s own desktop app.
What Errors does Grammarly Correct?
All the versions of Grammarly will find most — but not all — of your basic punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors.
There they are – underlined in red in my example, and listed in boxes alongside as well.
You can read through your copy, and when you click on each red line, a box pops up explaining the error. Simply click on the green correction, and it’ll replace your mistake. Or touch a box in the sidebar and you’ll move directly to that piece of text.
If you disagree with Grammarly’s suggestion, the little trash can icon is a dismiss button. Click it, and the red line will disappear. Or, add the word to your personal dictionary and Grammarly won’t highlight it again.
If you’ve chosen Premium, the editor gets far more detailed.
Start by setting your goals. What’s your audience? And how formal do you want the tone? A quick, informal Facebook post needs a casual style. An academic paper to your peers requires an entirely different voice.
When I turned Grammarly on in Microsoft Word, I noticed that it only showed three goals instead of the five available in the app.
Grammarly has all sorts of stylistic suggestions. Take it from me; it’s not keen on prepositions at the end of a sentence! And, if you’ve chosen a general or casual audience, it’ll pull you up for using five words when two would suffice.
If you tend to use the same words as everyone else, the editor will point that out too and offer a few helpful suggestions. I often check my online thesaurus as well, because Grammarly’s vocabulary suggestions are somewhat limited.
What Does The Performance Section Do?
Look to the top of the Grammarly desktop app, and you’ll see Overall Score/Performance. This button pops up a handy overview of your current document. It lists helpful information, such as the number of words and sentences you’ve written. Other handy stats are the reading and speaking times, as well as a readability score.
You can view all this info online or download it as a PDF report.
The Grammarly Blog
Once you’ve joined, you’ll receive weekly progress reports, as well as emails from the Grammarly blog.
The emails vary from hints on how to use Grammarly through to articles on watercooler etiquette!
The emails are easy to read – they must use their own tool – informative, and often entertaining.
Grammarly Review: Key Questions and Answers
Will Grammarly Keep my Formatting Intact?
If you’re working within a programme such as Word or Google Docs, all your formatting remains when using Grammarly.
When you copy and paste into your Grammarly Account instead, you’ll keep basic formatting like bold and italics, and also keep your headings intact. However, all the text changes to black, so you won’t keep colour changes, and you lose variations in font or spacing.
Can Grammarly Detect Plagiarism?
Grammarly has a plagiarism detector, but it’s not particularly sophisticated.
I tested the Detect Plagiarism feature with varied results. If you copy and paste a chunk of text, Grammarly will find the original if it’s on the internet.
However, it can also find coincidental text matches which you can safely ignore.
Is Grammarly Reliable?
Grammarly will undoubtedly catch many errors and offer intelligent suggestions, but it’s not 100% foolproof.
It uses AI which learned the dos and don’ts of English via thousands of texts. Grammarly admits that it’s better at catching genuine errors but not so good at catching deliberate mistakes. That seems to be because deliberate errors somehow don’t mirror the original writing on which the AI was trained.
The algorithm learns from current users too. For example, if many users click the “ignore” or “incorrect suggestion” buttons for the same issue, then Grammarly no longer flags that as an error.
If you’re interested, the Grammarly blog has some interesting articles about their AI and how it learns.
Is Grammarly Safe?
Grammarly operates within the GDPR and other privacy frameworks when collecting your data.
In February 2018, a potential data security hole was discovered. Since then, Grammarly has taken many steps to plug any leaks. Now, they actively encourage hackers to find bugs in their system and offer a bounty to anyone reporting a new issue.
No review of Grammarly would be complete without addressing the downsides.
You can find hundreds of complaints about Grammarly online but most boil down to three issues:
1. Subscription Renewal
Grammarly doesn’t send out a subscription renewal notice. This annoys a LOT of people, because your subscription payment leaves your account without a word.
The Terms and Conditions do tell you it will happen. But it doesn’t stop the complaints. I agree – they should send a warning email first.
So, be warned. If you decide not to renew, cancel your premium plan a week before it runs out. Grammarly Support states:
“At the end of your current billing cycle for your Subscription, your account will be downgraded to the free version and all future payments will be canceled. None of your data will be lost, and you will maintain access to all of your documents.”
Sure, it’s cheaper in the long run to buy the Annual Plan. It works out at US$11.66/month instead of U$29.95. But the Annual Plan is paid as one lump sum. So, many people get a shock when Grammarly takes $139.95 all at once.
The problem here is the complainants simply didn’t read the not-so-fine print.
3. Lack of Customer Service / Support
Grammarly has an extensive online support system with hundreds of articles answering almost every FAQ you could imagine.
BUT if you want to talk to them, you’ll have a tough time getting through because there is:
• Zero phone support.
• No live chat.
• And a LONG wait time between emails.
I tested the customer support system, and I wasn’t impressed. After six days, I got this:
And a week later, this:
Hmm, I hope I never do have a Grammarly complaint because solving it could become a nightmare.
How Many Languages Does Grammarly Correct?
Grammarly’s AI only works in English, but it does have four variations available: American, British, Canadian, and Australian.
That’s a game-changer if your go-to is British spelling, but you’re writing for an American audience. The editor not only catches spelling but often gives vocabulary substitutions as well.
If English is your second language, Grammarly can catch errors that you didn’t even know existed.
Grammarly Review Conclusion
Grammarly is used by millions of English language writers all over the world. It’s a fast and accurate editor and, once activated, will pick up errors across all your online platforms. That can save you a ton of time and lots of potentially embarrassing mistakes.
On the other hand, the algorithm isn’t perfect, and it won’t catch everything. You can, to a certain extent, teach it to work with your style through the account settings and then dismiss/incorrect suggestion options, especially when working in the Grammarly App.
There’s no getting around the fact that Grammarly Premium is quite expensive, but if you write for a living, it could end up saving you a ton of time and money.
On the other hand, the free version can be yours for life, and it will still catch most of your spelling and punctuation issues, if that’s all you need.
Pros and Cons
- Real-time editing saves you time and keeps you from making embarrassing errors. Editing happens automatically, so you don’t have to remember to click a “check your work” button after you’ve finished writing that super-important email.
- Overall, the editor is pretty accurate. Occasionally it’ll misunderstand your intentions, but it’s easy to press ignore when it happens.
- Grammarly explains your errors. It’s easy to understand when you’ve made a spelling mistake. Grammarly’s explanations will help to improve your future writing as well.
- Correcting is easy: click the highlighted green word, and Grammarly automatically makes the change.
- The Desktop App is extremely easy to use.
- The performance stats are useful, especially when you want to quickly check total numbers.
- Poor customer service. Most people don’t have an issue and so will never need to contact Grammarly direct. But, if something does go wrong, be prepared for a long, drawn-out experience.
- The free version is littered with ads and is limited compared to Premium.
- No ‘Subscription Due’ warning. Keep an eye on the dates and cancel in advance if you don’t want to pay for Premium again.
- Constant and aggressive upgrade suggestions – you’ll get them as emails, in your documents and popping up all through your social media and game sites.
- Grammarly doesn’t always understand context within a technical setting.
- When you’re copy/pasting into Grammarly, it converts all text colour to black, so it doesn’t keep any colour formatting you’ve made.
If you need an online editor but Grammarly doesn’t meet your needs, there are several alternative programs around. Hemingway, Scrivener and Ginger are three which offer some interesting options.
Grammarly vs. Hemingway
When I used Grammarly’s free version, I would often double-check my work with Hemingway because it’s terrific at finding stylistic errors.
• Free online.
• Easy to copy and paste work into and out of Hemingway.
• Highlights stylistic errors such as passive voice and hard-to-read sentences.
• Gives you a readability level.
• Estimated reading time can be helpful to know.
• Affordable – the desktop app is a one-time payment of USD 19.99.
• Once purchased, Hemingway works offline.
• Doesn’t check spelling, punctuation, or formatting mistakes (e.g. double spacing.)
• The free version only works online
• You can only copy/paste into and out of the free version.
• It won’t tell you how to fix your problem, only that it exists.
Grammarly vs. Scrivener
Scrivener has a basic spelling and grammar checker, but it’s really designed to help you organise a manuscript.
• Designed for novels and other long-form texts.
• Lets you organise your work into folders and binders.
• Has a Linguistic Focus to help you review written dialogue.
• The Corkboard lets you organise and colour-code within a project.
• Has a one-off cost of USD 45 to purchase one version.
• Includes a free, 30-day trial before you commit to buy.
• The latest version (Scrivener 3) is currently only available for Mac users.
• Windows users can buy Scrivener 1 and upgrade to 3 when it becomes available (possibly in 2020.)
• You pay for significant upgrades, (e.g. If you’re currently using Scrivener 2 you must pay to access Scrivener 3.)
• It is not designed as an online editor.
• Doesn’t work directly with Grammarly. You lose all formatting when you copy and paste from Scrivener to Grammarly. One time-consuming workaround is to copy and paste your script into Grammarly to find the mistakes, then correct them manually in Scrivener.
Grammarly vs. Ginger
Of the three writing enhancement options, Ginger is most like Grammarly. Indeed, it serves a similar audience and function.
• Catches errors at a similar rate to Grammarly.
• Has a Free Version.
• The Premium’s translation feature has 60 languages, so you can write in one language and translate to another.
• Ginger has dedicated dictionary and thesaurus buttons within its sidebar.
• Is slightly cheaper than Grammarly
• Doesn’t have a MacOS version.
• Doesn’t work directly with Google Docs.
• Can pop-up as a small window which is hard to read.
• Pop-ups keep suggesting that you upgrade.
- Want to know if you can realistically make a living writing?
- For tips on being a better writer, check out this article.
- Looking for more places to find writing work?
Lyn is the author of Culture Smart NZ (2022). A freelance writer and blogger from New Zealand, she specialises in content for lifestyle magazines, blogs, podcasts and virtual summits. You’ll find her blog on writing, farm life & talented New Zealanders at lynmcnamee.com