Is Grammarly Worth it For Writers

How many of you writers out there use the spelling and grammar checker in Word? Oh, come on. Don't be shy. I use it for the first pass on many of my writing projects, at the very least. It's great but I don't think it is the only thing that a writer should use to check their work.

Grammarly promises to be extremely useful for writers, so I decided to give the free version a try and report my findings. Remember that my review is a personal accounting only and I am in no way advocating for or against the use of this product.

I've found Grammarly to be extremely useful for posting on facebook, tweeting, or writing a blog post such as the one you are reading now. In fact, Grammarly shows my mistakes in real time and, if the mistake remains (through continued typing) provides me the opportunity to correct mistakes. Because of this feature alone, I can say that Grammarly fulfills all of its claims listed on television and youtube commercials.

This feature alone has already improved my writing in these areas. I am typing this post online right now and will publish it as written on the first pass. Any mistakes that you may find represents what Grammarly did not find. But, so far, it's found more than I ever would on a first draft.

So, if you are looking for a spelling and grammar tool you can plug into your computer and/or phone to help your writing of blog posts, facebook posts, and tweets on the fly, this is certainly an excellent tool. I would highly recommend it if you do much of your writing online.

What about that hardcore creative writing that requires editing beyond a simple grammar and spelling check?  We've all heard the saying, ' There are only three rules to good writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree on what they are.' This is where most standard grammar-checkers begin to show their limitations.

The one thing I really like about Grammarly is that I was able to install it into Word quite easily and I can access it by simply clicking on the newly installed icon on the right side of my toolbar.

Notice that, even though I did not have the feature open for this screenshot, it was still showing more than ten errors found. Below is a screenshot of the actual document used and the error shown with a green underline.

As seen above, the error found was not necessarily an error at all. Sure, the sentence structure could use some work but that's not what it was pointing out. If you remember the picture above, Grammarly installed in word stated that I had more than ten errors in my document, but where are they? In fact, only one error was found in the standard version. If I want to view the rest of the errors I'm prompted to purchase the premium version.

Now, if the standard version were to offer a more realistic substitute for the word list above, I might have been prompted to learn more about the premium version. Sadly, the standard version made a ridiculous suggestion to replace the word 'was' with the word 'be'. Therefore, I surmise that the program (standard version, anyway) quickly met its match when faced with creative, narrative writing.

By comparison, Word did no better. Below is a screenshot of a suggested correction from Word's native grammar/spell checker.

It appears Word does no better than Grammarly in suggesting valid changes beyond simple grammar and spelling. I'm not even sure where Word got this suggestion from. Of course, I chose this particular set of paragraphs because I knew beforehand that, while it was generally free of grammatical and spelling errors, there are some issues with sentence structure.

I suppose I chose this particular passage to demonstrate the need for an actual human editor in most cases of creative and narrative writing. I researched the premium edition and found that, while it does provide more advice on structure and syntax issues, the cost is prohibitive at $29.95 per month.

Nonetheless, I think the standard (free) version is excellent for everyday writing--especially on small cell phone keypads--and writing live. For an indepth analysis of narrative and creative writing, there's no substitute for a good editor.