Review: Grammarly Helps, but Not Enough

Review: Grammarly Helps, but Not Enough

Photographs courtesy of Photo by Grammarly

Recently, I feel like I have seen an ad for Grammarly every time I watch a YouTube video. For those of you who don’t know, Grammarly is a plug-in program that promises to improve your writing by checking for common errors. When I first heard about it, my mind immediately jumped to the spell check service that comes standard in Microsoft Office and Google Drive programs. I avoided the service mostly because I assumed that the standard program I had was just fine. After a few hours and two essays with Grammarly, I have completely changed my mind.

Users signing up for Grammarly can choose between the program’s free version and the paid premium version. For the purpose of this review, I chose to use the free Google Chrome version which only features the standard grammar/spell checker and a few extra features.

Despite being free, the service does a decent job. As an initial test of the service, I pitched several grammar mistakes at it. For the most part, it caught errors in spelling and some minor grammatical errors. Grammarly also gave me helpful explanations about the grammar errors I made and how to correct them. I found this aspect of the free version to be the most helpful.

Being able to understand a mistake goes a long way in improving your writing. While I enjoyed this aspect of Grammarly, I noticed a few problems that did hurt the overall experience.

The most glaring issue is that the program does not catch syntax errors very well. I typed in ten examples of subject-verb agreement errors and the service only caught two. The other glaring issue came in the form of how the service aggressively pushes premium membership.

Grammarly will claim that you have multiple errors such as “wordy sentences” but will lock the suggestions to fix that behind an ad advertising premium.

In the end, Grammarly does a decent job with grammar and spelling, but it is no replacement for a proofread. I recommend using it as a preliminary check before larger edits. Try copying your essay into a text-to-speech translator and having it read back to you.