EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: When I first commissioned this Grammarly review back in 2018, I was already using Grammarly myself, so I was interested to see what another writer made of it. I often receive emails and think that people could have saved themselves from making obvious mistakes if they’d just made use of the free version of Grammarly!
While I strongly feel that the last check of any text should be done with human eyes, tools like Grammarly definitely have their place. With a free version available, it’s at least worth giving it a try.
Whether you write for a living or not, widespread use of technology means that typing and writing takes up a huge part of the day for many. From emails to social media posts, via blog posts and big reports, writing is everywhere.
I do freelance writing for a living, so it takes up an even larger part of my day! This means I spend a lot of time editing, also. You’re probably used to Microsoft Word’s spellchecker, which leaves much to be desired. It can catch the worst misspellings, but often fails to notice other critical problems.
Enter Grammarly, a more sophisticated editing tool. As a writer, I had wanted to check this out for a long time, and was finally able to play around with both the free version and the paid Premium version. Read this full Grammarly review to find out what the experience was like.
What is Grammarly?
Grammarly is text and grammar checking software that you can download and use (at least in part) for free. It attaches to your browser, and then checks the writing you do all over the internet. This spans everything from Facebook posts to emails, and even forms you fill out on websites.
You can also log into Grammarly’s website or use the Grammarly desktop app to upload documents you want to be checked. The software can also integrate with Microsoft Office, if you use Microsoft Windows. (This functionality isn’t available for Mac at the time of writing).
Grammarly is very simple and easy to use.
Grammarly Review: Pricing
Grammarly has a free version and a paid Premium version, as I mentioned above.
Is Grammarly Really Free?
There is a completely free version of Grammarly, but it has a reduced set of features. To obtain all the functionality of Grammarly, you need to pay for the Premium version.
The free version operates more like a conventional spellchecker in that it catches all your little spelling errors and basic grammar mistakes. So if all you’re looking for is an extra pair of eyes to catch those minor errors, the free version has you covered.
The Premium version is what catches all those stylistic issues, and can help take your writing to the next level. It points out when you’re using passive voice, it gives vocabulary suggestions, and it tells you when you are overusing a certain word. That’s just for starters. Grammarly Premium also offers detailed explanations for its changes, helping you learn to be a better writer along the way.
The Premium version can be paid monthly, quarterly or annually. Monthly, the current pricing is $29.95, and quarterly is $19.98 per month, paid as one payment of $59.95.
Annual is by far the best deal, as it comes out to $11.66 per month, or one lump-sum payment of $139.95. There’s also Grammarly Business, which charges $10 per month per member, with a three-member minimum, billed annually.
It’s also worth noting that there are often promotions on Premium membership.
How does Grammarly work?
OK, let’s get into actually using this thing! To start off, it is incredibly easy to download. You go to grammarly.com, and there’s a big button to click at the bottom of the screen, which triggers Grammarly to start downloading.
On a Mac, I had to drag an icon that popped up on my desktop to my applications folder, and once I clicked on that from my applications folder, it opened a window and gave me a little tutorial on how to use Grammarly. It automatically added the plugin to my Safari browser, and automatically worked with Facebook. If I want to check a document, I can click and drag it into the Grammarly app screen. (However, I have recently been logging into the website because that just feels easier to me.)
It was all a very easy, painless process. After the download, I found Grammarly working all over the internet, just as it said it would. Here are some screenshots of Grammarly in action:
Here it is working on Facebook. As you can see, it’s doing a great job of catching my spelling and capitalization issues. It says nothing about my missing periods, but perhaps it knows people aren’t big about punctuation on social media?!
To illustrate how Grammarly works across your system, here I am writing in an online form to my senator about protecting net neutrality. You can see the little green Grammarly icon at the bottom right of the screenshot. Green means my writing looks good, so I know I didn’t embarrass myself while trying to participate in democracy…
Here’s Grammarly working in a PayPal invoice reminder. How cool is that?!
When I want to change something, I hover over what’s underlined, it suggests the correction and I can click on the correction. Boom: no more error.
For documents, I can download the corrected version back into my computer.
Grammarly Review: The Upsides
I’m a huge fan of just how active Grammarly is all across my internet activities. But where it really shines is in checking my articles.
I dragged in an article I was working on for a client after I’d already done a quick scan over it to check for major errors. I wanted to see what Grammarly caught that I’d missed. Here is a screenshot of what the free version was giving me back in terms of corrections:
I like that it catches little commas I could probably do without!
Grammarly also gives you stats on your writing. The free version gives me a whole stats page on each article:
And in the free version, I also get emails like this one:
These features might appeal to you and help you improve if you’re one of those competitive types who likes seeing how your writing compares to others!
The Premium version takes it to a whole new level, however, as you can see in the screenshots below:
As you can see, it’s giving me some high-end feedback that could help my writing. It’s not just making corrections. It’s like having your eighth grade English teacher in your browser, showing you how to improve on style.
Grammarly can be particularly useful for non-native English writers who are willing to learn from the feedback given on their work.
Premium also has genre-specific writing style checks, divided between general, academic, business, technical, medical, creative and casual.
There’s also a plagiarism checker, an essential tool for students and professional writers. Many clients and teachers insist on the use of a plagiarism checker against all work submitted. It’s really easy to use: just click on the plagiarism checker button, and it runs a check against its databases and the internet.
Grammarly Review: The Downsides
While conducting my Grammarly review left me rather impressed, this is still an algorithm doing its best to check very nuanced human uses of language. You still need to use some discretion in accepting its changes, especially in the free version. For instance, here are some of its more troublesome changes:
Grammarly wanted me to write “for Cheers to being groomed by because” and later change “because” to “that.” To me, that’s just awkward. This is from the free version, so no explanations are given, either.
It’s also no substitute for those years of journalism courses. Remember this paragraph?
“’When he was done,’ Laura says” has got be the world’s most awkward quote attribution. You shouldn’t break up a sentence in this way – so I still had to fix that on my own. I guess it’s nice to know my training in journalism isn’t completely being replaced by the robots…yet.
Grammarly Review: Conclusion
I would wholeheartedly recommend Grammarly to anyone looking to improve as a writer, either the free version or paid Premium version. Go with the free version if you just want a basic spelling and grammar checker. If you want a more comprehensive review of style, or the useful plagiarism checker, go with Premium.
No, it’s not the world’s most perfect spelling and grammar checker. But what is?
The fact is, it gives you that “second pair of eyes,” like the Grammarly ads say. It cuts down on the time I spend correcting my mistakes, even if I do still need to give my work a comprehensive edit myself.
Overall, Grammarly is easy to use, and it really does catch many of those obnoxious errors before you hit send or post.
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