It is with little fondness and much chagrin that I remember my years in English class. There was always something new to learn, and I found myself struggling with proper usages, tenses and prepositions. Let’s face it – no one has perfect grammar skills, but improving your abilities in the English language is something we should all strive for. Grammarly is an app that promises to help the user perfect their writing while teaching them not to make the same mistakes again.
What Is Grammarly?
Grammarly’s website purports that the browser add-on and mobile app can correct over 250 types of grammatical errors, even ones that involve words that are spelled correctly but misused. It’s an astonishing claim, one that can be hard to believe. Grammarly’s software is designed to catch many errors that Microsoft Word doesn’t; for users of Word Processor, this is a dream come true. However, the validity of Grammarly’s claims has come into question from experts in the field of digital content.
How Does Grammarly Work?
Claiming that you can outdo Microsoft Word Processor isn’t much of a claim to begin with. The program wasn’t much to start with, and seemingly perfect Word documents submitted to professors would come back marked with errors. English grad students quickly learned not to trust Microsoft’s questionable grammar check function and instead relied on dictionaries and thesauruses, as well as the advice of their peers.
Grammarly functions as a browser add-on for Chrome, Firefox and Safari, and you can also download the mobile app for phones and tablets. This allows the user to check any text they create for grammatical and spelling errors, as well as plagiarism. Grammarly claim they can catch up to ten times the amount of errors that word processors can. Their website also has the same features as the free version for those who don’t want to download the program.
Premium versions of Grammarly are available via monthly subscription that allow the user full access to all 250 types of grammar corrections (the free version only has 150). You can choose monthly, quarterly or annual payments for premium accounts. You receive full access to all of the features included in the free version, as well as the Microsoft Office add-on that lets you integrate Grammarly into your current Microsoft Word Processor and other Office components like Outlook and Excel.
Grammarly: Useful Or Useless?
Despite the failures found in word processors, Grammarly doesn’t seem to be much better. Grammarist reviewed the Grammarly program in-depth after its usefulness was called into question, and they didn’t spare it the harsh criticism it deserved, saying:
“…Grammarly claims to (1) correct grammar, (2) give useful explanations for grammar mistakes, (3) check spelling, (4) identify and help correct plagiarism, and (5) check word usage. We’re skeptical on every count, but number five strikes us as particularly implausible.”
They bring up a good point. How can a program like Grammarly be so advanced that it catches mistakes pertaining to proper usage? How does it differentiate between American and British English? Some schools of thought have differences of opinion when it comes to the use of the Oxford comma or pluralization of certain words. How does Grammarly aim to overcome these hurdles?
Grammarist’s test run of Grammarly ended badly. The program failed to correct obvious errors multiple times, and wins were few and far between. Grammarist covered their bases when it came to testing, making sure to include glaring errors and plagiarism in their examples. I tested the premium version myself and found it to be a waste of money. The premium version didn’t fare any better than the free version. It was quite the disappointment.
Another test was run by Dean Evans, professional copywriter and owner of Good Content Company. Although Evans makes several errors of his own in the review, his wife is a professional proofreader, and she agreed to pit herself against Grammarly, as well as Ginger, After The Deadline and Microsoft Word. Evans’ results showed that Microsoft Word outdid all three sister sites, but it failed to trump his wife’s proofreading skills.
The Good And The Bad
Grammarly has failed spectacularly on several accounts, but I feel bad eliminating it completely from my list of useful tools. After all, shouldn’t a program that’s so popular have at least one good quality? It does, in fact, have one positive quality going for it: it’s better than nothing.
If you struggle with spelling and proper grammar usage, Grammarly can significantly improve your writing. However, if you’re looking for attention to detail that will let you pass for an expert in the English language, you’re looking in the wrong place. Grammarly doesn’t live up to its name, not by a long shot. It can’t even be trusted to catch obvious plagiarism (rewrites of notable pieces slipped right through Grammarly’s nets).
Your humble author doesn’t claim to be an expert in the English language either; I simply think that users are better off without Grammarly. Its shortcomings could easily steer new writers into a minefield of errors, so you’re better off just hiring a professional proofreader. Are they expensive? Yes, they most certainly are, but hiring a proofreader sure beats paying for a program that doesn’t work!