Grammarly offers valuable utility – yes, even if you’re a pro or a wizened veteran of the writing trade. The tool can not only help you weed out typos and other simple mistakes but also higher-level errors that regular-issue spellcheckers would be hard-pressed to detect, such as poorly chosen words and awkward phrases. Grammarly can also check your text for plagiarism – vital whether you submit an assignment to your teacher or optimize a website for search engines. Let us take a deeper look at the tool.
What Is Grammarly?
Grammarly is a veritable Swiss Army knife, editorially speaking – a spellchecker, grammar checker, proofreader, and plagiarism filter rolled into one. And thanks to native desktop clients for Windows and macOS, an add-in for Microsoft Word, keyboard apps for Android and iOS, and browser extensions for Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Edge, you can enjoy the tool’s considerable capabilities on practically anything with a display and keyboard. Its creators call it a writing assistant – an apt description, given the array and sophistication of features that Grammarly offers. Let us look at these next.
Unsurprisingly, Grammarly checks documents for everything from misspellings and punctuation mistakes to comma splices and run-on sentences. However, what sets the tool apart is not its ability to point out errors – any old spellchecker can do that – but how it explains why a mistake is a mistake in pithy, easy-to-understand lessons. And as we saw earlier, Grammarly comes with a plagiarism checker, which can help you craft 100 percent unique content.
The tool also offers tips and suggestions that can help you improve your writing style – arguably its most powerful feature. In this guise, Grammarly provides advice on everything from readability to sentence length. It also helps correct date, time, capitalization, and abbreviation inconsistencies. This means if you write ‘December 1, 2077’ at one point in your document and ‘1 December, 2077’ at another, Grammarly will highlight the inconsistencies so that you can correct them. If you so wish, you can configure the tool to correct such errors automatically.
The tool also offers genre-specific writing checks to help you create documents consistent with your writing goals. For instance, if you are writing a piece in a conversational style, Grammarly will flag overly formal words and phrases and suggest suitable replacements.
Grammarly uses a freemium model, which means select features are accessible while the rest are locked behind a paywall. The free version offers a decent set of features. These include a robust spelling, grammar, and punctuation checker; correction suggestions; and the ability to switch between different flavors of English (British, American, Australian, and Canadian).
As you would expect, the more advanced stuff requires a subscription. Paid features include the aforementioned plagiarism filter, checks for grammar, context, and sentence structures; vocabulary suggestions; and genre-specific style checks.
The subscription version of Grammarly comes in two flavors – Grammarly Premium and Grammarly Business. Premium is designed for individual writers and varies in price depending on whether you subscribe for a month, quarter, or an entire year. At the time of writing, a monthly subscription was $29.95, a quarterly subscription was $59.94 (which works out to $19.98 a month), while the yearly subscription was $139.92, or $11.66 a month. A single Premium account supports up to five users or devices.
Grammarly Business is targeted at firms with teams of writers. At the time of writing, an annual subscription cost $12.5 per month per user. Up to 150 writers can use a single Business subscription.
How Grammarly Works
Grammarly checks your writing in real-time against a database of content and style errors and anonymized data gathered from its millions of users. For enhanced accuracy, the tool has also been using artificial intelligence to process data since 2017.
Grammarly highlights errors using different colors – basic spelling and grammar mistakes are underlined in red, while higher-level flaws are underlined in colors that vary by the specific type of error. You can hover or tap or click the highlighted error to correct it or, if you prefer, view an explanation. In addition, Grammarly shows an error count so that you always know how many more you need to correct.
The desktop app for Windows allows you to create and format a new document, import one from elsewhere, or paste copied text. A feature dubbed Goals will enable you to define your intent (describe, convince, inform), emotion, target audience, and writing style (conversational, formal, technical) before you commence so that Grammarly can adjust its recommendations to your needs. Premium users can further define their target writing domains, which range from business to academic. The tool also comes with another feature, dubbed Performance, to help you keep track of metrics such as word count, reading time and readability on the fly.
The Grammarly browser plugins check everything you write in real-time, whether whipping up a flirty message or crafting a multimillion-dollar business proposal. The tool highlights errors and deficiencies the same way it does in the Windows app – ditto for correction suggestions and explainers. Using Google Docs with the Chrome Grammarly plugin, you get extras such as a dedicated sidebar and the tool’s more advanced features, such as clarity and engagement suggestions. However, some features can only be accessed with a Premium or Business subscription.
The Microsoft Office Grammarly add-in works in the same fashion as the browser plugins – highlighting issues, recommending solutions, providing explanations. For example, you can specify the types of problems you want to check in your current document; Grammarly then opens a sidebar to highlight errors, and you can click on the flagged material to view explanations.
Grammarly also offers an Android and iOS keyboard app. The tool provides suggestions as you type, and you can open a personal editor to see explanations and make the necessary corrections. You can also select whichever flavor of English you prefer. However, these apps do not offer some higher-level features such as the plagiarism checker.
If you are a cybersecurity buff, the idea of an app checking what you write in real-time – and requiring an active internet connection to function – probably worries you. In 2018, Tavis Ormandy, a Google security researcher, highlighted a security issue with Grammarly browser extensions. Grammarly promptly plugged the vulnerability after it was highlighted.
Grammarly has taken several steps to keep you safe. First, it requests your permission before accessing what you are writing. Second, the tool displays an indicator whenever it is active. Third, the app is coded so that it cannot access anything you type in fields marked ‘sensitive,’ which include credit card forms. Fourth, Grammarly uses state-of-the-art encryption to secure connections and data. Fifth, the firm has a bug bounty program to make it easier to catch security vulnerabilities. Finally, the tool is easy to disable, so you can quickly deactivate it when working on sensitive material.
Grammarly is a robust writing aid. While it cannot replace a human editor, it can help make the writing and editing process much more palatable. And if you are a novice, Grammarly can consistently nudge you in the right direction, allowing your writing to improve.
The free options are likely adequate if you are a casual user who requires some help here and there. However, if you are a power user, consider paying for Premium – it may be precisely what the literary doctor ordered.