In writing this Grammarly review for bloggers, I will offer my honest opinion based on my usage of this tool over the past few years. Many bloggers do not have a whole team of people helping them to proofread and edit their content before they post it. This is where Grammarly can be a valuable tool for them – they are able to eliminate as many spelling and grammatical errors as possible from their content before it reaches the eyes of their readers. No-one is infallible and it is easy for errors to slip through, even if one has great language skills.
Who is it for?
Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn, the founders of Grammarly, met in 1997 when they attended International Christian University in Kiev. They launched Grammarly in 2008 and today it is used by millions of writers worldwide.
When the founders first launched Grammarly in 2008, they thought their target audience would consist of students and language learners. However, they quickly came to the conclusion that they could reach a far wider range of users.
They extended their target audience to include all customers who use English in everyday life. They decided to make the rules of Grammarly as universal as possible to suit a worldwide audience. Today they are licensed by more than 600 corporations and universities and their current team consists of software engineers, grammar experts, and computational linguists.
If English isn’t your first language, Grammarly can help you to improve your basic spelling and grammar. If it is your first language, it can help to teach you some of the finer points of grammar. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and taught English for a number of years so my grammar is better than average. However, when checking my content with Grammarly, I still consistently find errors and I am sure I’m not the only one.
Prices and Features
It is possible to join up and use a free version. However, the paid version offers some important features that I believe makes it worth the price.
- The free version offers 150 critical grammar and spelling checks.
- The premium version offers an additional 100+ checks.
- The premium version also offers vocabulary enhancement suggestions. It will pick up repetitive word usage and suggest alternatives with the same meaning.
- It offers genre-specific writing style checks (helpful when you need to create all kinds of different content) and a plagiarism detector. The plagiarism checker will compare your work with a database of 8 billion pages to check whether it’s unique. I cannot comment on its accuracy as I used Copyscape for this purpose prior to using Grammarly and have continued to do so. However, considering that the first project undertaken by the founders before they launched Grammarly was a plagiarism checker, I am sure this aspect of Grammarly reflects their experience.
The premium version costs $29.95 a month, $59.95 a quarter ($19.98/monthly) and $139.95 a year ($11.66/monthly).
It is available as a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari as part of the free option. You will see the green symbol once you have installed it. It allows you to correct errors while writing posts, commenting on forums, posting on Facebook and tweeting etc.
Log into Grammarly and you will see a dashboard. Click on the new button to create a document. Start typing or copy and paste your document. You can also choose to upload your document.
Microsoft Office Add-In
This is only available if you have purchased the premium version. Once you’ve downloaded the add-in, you will see the green symbol on the left-hand side in the menu bar and you must enable it.
How it works
Grammarly is easy to use. Within a couple of seconds of running through your text, errors are underlined in green or red. The total amount of errors you have made is reflected in the bottom right-hand corner. I have Grammarly installed as a browser app and as you can see in this screenshot it has picked up five critical errors in this post, even though I thought it was error-free. I go through my post to see what it has picked up. I am not surprised to find out that I have left out some hyphens and commas.
In this example, my error is underlined in green as it is a punctuation error. I am told what kind of error I have made i.e. a missing comma in a series. I am given the option of correcting the problem or I can choose to ignore it. If I choose to correct it, I click on the correct option and the faulty version is automatically replaced. I am also given the option of adding the correct version to my dictionary.
In this example, my error is underlined in red. This means I have made a grammatical error. It tells me that I have possibly confused one word for another. I have used the word ‘there’ instead of ‘their’. I made this error deliberately, by the way, just to demonstrate that the tool will pick up wrong word usage!
- spelling mistakes
- wordy sentences
- confused prepositions
- subject/verb agreement
- squinting modifiers
- missing articles
- passive voice – this can be handy (although irritating at times!) because using active voice is more engaging and readers respond more to active than passive voice in a blog.
- and much more
Once a week, you receive a report. It details how active you were in comparison with other Grammarly users. It also reveals how many mistakes you made and how many unique words you used. I like seeing that my vocabulary was more dynamic than 98% of Grammarly users – that really appeals to my competitive streak!
Finally, you are given a list of your top mistakes. This is a great way to find out which errors you make consistently. You become more aware of them and so you can work towards eliminating them.
- It is easy to use and available as a web app, desktop software or a Microsoft Office Add-in. You can choose what suits you best.
- It can help you to self-edit – we are often blind to our own mistakes
- It helps you to pick up some of your bad habits and change them.
- It improves your grammatical knowledge. Perhaps before using Grammarly you didn’t even know what a modifier was, let alone that it could squint!
- It helps to extend your vocabulary. It suggests new words to replace ones you use repetitively.
- It helps you check whether your content is unique.
- If you are expecting it to correct your content to the highest possible grammatical standard, you will probably be disappointed. The English language is complex and no tool is infallible. Those with advanced grammatical skills are likely to find it flawed.
- It cannot replace the eye of a trained proofreader. For example, a trained proofreader will check whether an unusual name has been spelled correctly, whether statistics are accurate and much more.
Perhaps it does not live up to the strictest possible standards when it comes to advanced grammar usage. However, I am convinced that Grammarly is a valuable tool. It is easy to use and will pick up spelling mistakes and the most common grammatical errors. As with all tools, it has its limitations but, for me, these are outweighed by its benefits. It provides me with a way to eradicate my most glaring mistakes and that makes me happy.
Please let me know if you have any questions about Grammarly and I will be happy to try and answer them for you.