Should You Use Grammarly? – A Professional Writer’s Honest Review
Spell Check Programs Aren’t Good Enough
Writing digitally is the reality of today. Whether you’re blogging, drafting a proposal, writing your resume, or sending an email – you’re likely using some digital platform to do it. But here’s the big issue: what if you want to work separately from a word processing program – especially one without any spell check capabilities?
Even if spell check is available when you’re writing, do you trust it?
How many times do you wish spell check was just a little better? That it caught something a real-life reader actually would have caught?
I run into this issue all the time. It’s frustrating. As someone with a writing degree, I found that built-in spell check programs just weren’t cutting it for me. So much so that I went on the hunt to find something else. I wanted something that would catch the smaller errors spell check often overlooks.
It didn’t take me long before I found Grammarly.
Grammarly is a grammar and spell check extension you can add to your browser, Microsoft® Office, OS X, or Windows to check nearly anything you type. You don’t need to pair it with any other spell checker or app, but it will work in tandem with one if needed. You can add words to your personal dictionary, see stats of your writing and error ratios, and so much more.
I signed up for the free plan and in just a few minutes, I was up-and-running. You can download it here and try for yourself.
Here is my honest review of Grammarly after using (and abusing) it for a few months.
Where Grammarly Succeeds
Ease of Use
The first thing I noticed – and you will, too – is how easy it is to use. I don’t want to copy and paste all my text over to different files and programs just for grammar and proofing. With this tool, not only does it have an extension right in my browser, the extension is super easy to use.
If you’re someone who’d rather work from a document within the tool, you may do that, as well. You can either do so by logging into your account online or by downloading the native desktop app. Even within those, you get started by simply typing. It’s that easy.
To sign up for Grammarly and begin using, follow these steps:
- Go to grammarly.com
- Click the green “Add to [Chrome]” button at the top right
- Follow the steps onscreen to add to your browser
- After adding, you will be asked to sign up for an account (you get so many more features this way, so do it)!
- Once signed up, you can use it to check anything you write!
Writing and Usage Email Reports
I LOVE numbers. I love metrics. I love reports.
One happy surprise I found after signing up for the tool was the weekly email reports I began receiving.
First, it’s beautiful. There’s a special place in my heart for clean, crisp, colorful emails. Second, the metrics are fun. You receive metrics around:
- Your productivity – how many words you’ve written compared to other users
- Your accuracy – how many mistakes you made compared to other users (peer pressure!)
- Your vocabulary – how many different words you used compared to other users
I love taking a look at how I compare to others. Plus, I can see quick visuals of how this week compared to the last month or so, to see if I’m improving as a writer.
My absolute favorite part of the email, however, is a reference to my top three mistakes.
Obviously, I need to get my comma use in check.
If I click through the “learn more” links, I can learn a bit more about proper comma usage. It found the problem and is offering an immediate solution. Instant gratification. I like it.
Overall, it’s a great user experience.
Plus, these weekly metrics help me improve as a writer. If you’re someone who wants to hone in on the areas where you need the most improvement, these emails will help you.
Grammar Tip: Sign in to your Grammarly accunt on all devices you use (where available) for the most comprehensive grammar and spelling reports. Not only will you be a more effective writer because of the tool’s features following you everywhere you write, but the reports will contain all the text you write.
The Free Plan is Incredibly Robust
I don’t know why they did this, but seriously the free version is amazing.
This is especially great if you’re someone who cares most about the larger glaring issues in your writing. If you don’t write for a living but would rather use the best grammar you can, the free version is probably enough for you.
If you’re lazy (hey, no judgment – I’m right there with you) and don’t want to have to think while you write but aren’t overly-concerned to have Ph.D.-level writing – the free version is for you.
I keep noticing little nuggets in the free version I would have expected to be premium.
For instance, the awesome synonym and definition tool-tip. If you double-click on a word while you’re writing, the synonym tool-tip pops up and gives you a few synonyms right there. This means no more searching all around the internet for a synonym, which, if you’re like me – can take much longer than expected.
They’re Always Improving the Tool and Adding New Features
I love that they didn’t create a tool and just leave it there for others to use. It’s constantly improving.
For instance, the new Grammarly Handbook is a nifty guide for all grammar rules. It is written in a way that is easy to understand and the examples are great.
When I first signed up, this wasn’t in existence, but it’s now one of my favorite parts. I have the handbook bookmarked on my browser, and if you’re a geek like me, you should, too.
A few of the minor bugs I saw when I first began using the tool have since been remedied. I always take comfort in knowing a developer takes pride in iterating and improving upon a product, no matter how small the fixes may be.
Grammarly Strives to Provide a Fun Way to Learn Grammar
If you don’t already, you should like Grammarly on Facebook. I love that the team at Grammarly provides such a fun open forum for learning grammar, writing, and more. The playful tone makes what most consider to be boring topics, fun.
While Not Required, Grammarly Premium is Worth the Price
You might be one of those people who doesn’t really consider the premium level of anything when there’s a free version. I get it. I’m usually one of those people.
However, while the free version is great, Premium is excellent. If you want to take your writing to the next level, consider Premium.
- Premium checks more complex grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. If you feel you need a more robust grammar and spelling tool, Premium is that.
- It provides suggestions for improving your vocabulary. If you aren’t great about varying your word usage, Premium will make suggestions for you. If you’re writing academically or professionally, you’ll likely love the idea of vocabulary enhancement suggestions.
- One of the neatest features is the ability to choose a genre for your writing. Whether you’re writing for work, personal, or academic purposes, Premium tailors suggestions to fit your purposes. I don’t know of anything else on the market that does this.
- If you’re specifically writing for academic purposes, Premium also serves as a plagiarism detector by checking nearly 8 billion web pages. If you’re someone who takes notes directly from sources, pastes them into your document, and then reworks them – this will be perfect for you. You can quickly see if you’ve actually taken entire phrases from those sources without citing (whoops!), which will cut down your academic writing time overall.
These features are huge. And well worth considering the upgrade. Even as someone who writes daily and has a writing degree, I’ve seen significant benefit from Grammarly Premium for my own purposes. I think you could, too.
Not sure about it yet? I highly recommend installing the free version and see if you run into situations where the free version limits you. If you don’t run into any limitations, hold off. However, if you see limitations, consider purchasing a month or two just to see if Premium fits your needs.
If you do find Premium is for you, you can pay as little as around $12 a month for Premium. While not free, that’s very reasonably priced for all the additional features.
Are There Any Downsides to Grammarly?
Here are a few cons I’ve found with Grammarly thus far:
It’s Not Everywhere…Yet
I really wish I had a Grammarly plugin on more aspects of my life (thinking, namely, my phone) but it is only web-based for now. I look forward to future enhancements, though, that might include mobile devices.
Ahh, Bugs and Glitches
Grammarly isn’t perfect. To be fair, no program is perfect. However, I have noticed a few bugs while using the tool.
One, that I only notice in WordPress, is that it duplicates entire paragraphs of text sometimes. Sometimes, I’m typing away and suddenly what I just wrote is in my body copy twice. This isn’t all the time, and to be honest, I haven’t seen this in about a month or so. Maybe it’s fixed?
Sometimes, there’s a lag. Obviously, the tool has to check everything you write. Because of this, sometimes the letters on my screen are a bit behind what I’m typing. It always catches up eventually, but I notice if I get into a groove and I start typing furiously, it can get behind. Something like this often drives me nuts (my work computer had this all the time, even without Grammarly installed). However, because it always catches back up to real time, I’ve become used to it. It helps that this issue doesn’t happen all the time for me.
It Can’t Read My Mind
Wouldn’t that be awesome? (or maybe not…)
One thing the tool fails at, which is no different from any non-human program, is it won’t be correct 100 percent of the time. I know, it stinks. However, it’s really difficult for a program to understand your context all the time. So there will probably be times it makes a recommendation, and you think, “huh?” It’s not a huge deal, and in those instances, go with your gut. If the sentence reads strangely, stick with what you think is correct.
I’ve noticed this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s when I’m trying to be funny (you know, all the time) or when I’m using slang. The more professional my writing, the less it misunderstands my context.
TL;DR – Should I use Grammarly?
YES. You should.
There are not many downsides to using Grammarly, especially if you plan to use it in a more professional setting. If you’d rather not purchase Premium, the free version is good enough on its own.
It’s not your average spelling and proofreading tool; it’s all that and more.
For personal use, I could see how you might not want it on all the time, but in a workplace, I wholeheartedly recommend using it consistently. You always have the option to turn the extension off or on, so don’t let the fact that it’s always on deterring you.
If you want to become a better writer and want to use it as a means to teach you proper grammar, I recommend installing on all computers you use frequently and for all purposes, not just at work.
Download Grammarly now and see what you think.
The goal of this review was to examine all features and aspects of the tool for the average user. Because I am human, I may have missed some features others may find to be vital. If that’s the case, let me know in the comments and I’ll expand this review even further. Also, let me know if you found this review useful. This was my first stab at a product review.