If you spend any time at all online, you’ve no doubt heard of Grammarly. Their adverts are seemingly everywhere these days, whether it be banners on websites or the unskippable ads you see when watching your favourite cat videos on YouTube.
I’d consider myself a decent writer. I’m by no means an expert, but I’d like to think I have the basics of grammar and spelling in check. Poor spelling and punctuation annoy me no end, especially on platforms such as Facebook where you don’t need to look far to find it.
With that said, as an Open University student about to embark on a degree in science, I’ve become very conscious of the need to up my game a bit. This is especially true with assignments, where grammar, punctuation and spelling will all contribute to your marks. I’m also spending a great deal more time blogging, too – both here and elsewhere.
I’d hope that most of us already use a spellchecker of some description. Even web browsers have them built in now – which makes the aforementioned facebook issue all the more frustrating!
The free version of Grammarly integrates with your web browser and performs critical grammar and spelling checks. Before using the premium version, I’d been using this and could already see it’s value – certainly in blogging terms. They also provide a web-app that you can use to cut & paste, or upload, documents into for checking. Desktop apps are also available, though they pretty much replicate the web-app.
As Grammarly works as a browser extension, it’s active anywhere you write using your browser. Whether that be Facebook, Gmail, Forums or anywhere else with text entry forms, it doesn’t, however, integrate with Email apps, such as Apple Mail, which is a shame.
The premium offering adds additional features such as advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context and sentence structure. While these are helpful additions, I’ve found the vocabulary enhancement suggestions to be the most useful.
The premium version also integrates with Microsoft Office, though it currently works only with Windows, which as a Mac OS and an iOS user makes it something I can’t take advantage of. With that said, I’ve found the native or web-based apps sufficient for my needs so far.
Even with my level of language comprehension, Grammarly has picked up on some inaccuracies in my writing. It seems punctuation, in particular, is something I need to work on – those misplaced commas are everywhere! Where the premium version shines is with the explanations and vocabulary enhancement suggestions. Using these, I’m always learning – and the more I use it, the fewer suggestions Grammarly is picking up.
Passive voice, however, is something that is often flagged up – especially with blog posts, where I appear to use passive voice far more frequently. Perhaps that’s merely the nature of blogging, but it’s something I’m still trying to grasp.
The native app, while not essential, does allow you to dig deeper. You can set attributes such as the article intent (Inform, Describe, Convince or Tell a Story), audience (General, Knowledgable or Expert), style (formal or informal), emotion (mild or strong) and Domain (General, Academic, Business, Technical, Creative or Casual). The suggestions it makes alter depending on these goals or attributes.
I’ve found the performance reports to be quite useful too. Alongside the usual character and word counts, it will also report the number of sentences, reading and speaking times and word length. The readability score is also useful – especially for bloggers, whose audience is more likely to be varied in terms of reading ability.
An annual subscription to Grammarly works out at $11.66/month. That’s good value for what it offers. A quarterly subscription works out at just under $20/month if you don’t want to commit for a full year. Unfortunately, a single month subscription will set you back $29.95. For students, that can be quite a commitment. My advice would be to start with the free version to evaluate it, before trying out the premium version.
Would I recommend paying for Grammarly Premium? As both a student and a blogger, without a doubt – yes. Even just as a blogger, it’s a worthwhile investment – the fact I can use it for university work too is a bonus. If, however, I was buying just for university assignment use, I’m less convinced. As I’m only in my first year, the assignments I’m facing aren’t exceptionally detailed or lengthy – so I’d be confident in my language skills to ‘get by’ without it. As I progress though, I’d perhaps value the Grammarly feedback more.
In a Nutshell
There’s something oddly satisfying about proofing your work with Grammarly. I tend to write ‘as I would’, then review with Grammarly when finished – rather than editing as I go. I find that keeps me in the flow easier, rather than constantly stopping and reviewing. If you’re seeking to improve your writing style, running your work through Grammarly is enjoyable – primarily as the number of issues it flags up decreases over time. A sign that your writing style is improving.
Using Grammarly within WordPress, or on my desktop, Mac is easy and efficient. However, I’m trying to write using my iPad more – and that’s where Grammarly falls for me. On iOS, neither a native app or the web-app provide the same functionality – you’re limited to the keyboard alone. To be of any use, therefore, you need to enter text on a web-form. That’s fine for WordPress, and I imagine Google docs probably work too (though I don’t use that, so I’m guessing there!). I’d like to see the iOS app expand beyond just being a keyboard. If it better reflected the desktop or web app, it would undoubtedly be my ‘go-to’ app for writing – and I’d gladly subscribe for that alone.
Click here to find out more about Grammarly and try for free.
This post was proofread and edited with Grammarly, ending with a performance score of 99%. Links to Grammarly are affiliated, however, all words and opinions are my own.