With so much of our communication taking place digitally now, whether it's over email, Slack, or social media, it's more important than ever to remember those simple grammar and punctuation rules that we were taught back in middle school. After all, there's nothing more embarrassing than ruining a professional email or an otherwise buttoned-up resume by typing out its when you really meant it's.
Grammarly wants to take all the hassle and stress out of correcting your work by pointing out errors and offering writing advice right in a simple browser extension. How well does it work? Grammarly sent me a free trial of its paid Premium program for a few weeks so I could test it out and see if the advice and grammatical fixes were effective.
How Does Grammarly Work?
The autocorrect you have on your phone or in Microsoft Word works for simple mistakes like typos and misspellings, but it won't call you out like a high school English teacher when you use passive voice five times in an email. That's exactly the kind of thing Grammarly's services were designed for. But you won't get all the tools at Grammarly's disposal by using the free version the company offers. To go beyond basic suggestions on spelling, grammar, and punctuation, you'll have to shell out $12 a month for the Premium version, which offers help with consistency, clarity, vocabulary, tone, and plagiarism detection.
Throughout my trial, Premium gave me real-time suggestions to break up complex sentences, enhanced my word choice, and kept my language consistent throughout my work. The advice they gave always came with a reason behind it, and even if I didn't always agree with the suggestions, they still helped me learn to stop making the same mistakes over and over. After a few weeks, I could see my writing improve in simple ways, such as reducing my use of the passive voice and cutting back on redundancies. Within days, I started thinking more critically about the grammatical structure of my sentences, especially my introductory clauses and compound sentences.
When errors do pop up, the program will break down all the suggestions succinctly and with a clear explanation of the rules it thinks you're breaking. So you won't just be corrected, you'll learn why your writing was flagged.
Grammarly is available as a Google Chrome, Microsoft Word, and macOS plugin, and you can even add it to an iPad or your phone's keyboard to get suggestions when you text or email on your mobile device. When synched with your existing programs and web browsers, you'll see a little green Grammarly icon appear on email drafts, Word documents, impending tweets, and Google Docs to let you know it's working.
does Grammarly actually help?
While Grammarly does a great job following you around the internet to make sure your important emails, reports, and articles are error-free, the Premium version probably isn't for all of your writing. If you're shooting a quick text to a friend or want to jot down a grocery list for yourself on your phone, it's best to temporarily turn Grammarly Premium off on that device. The program wants to help enhance your writing whenever you're typing, but some of your writing won't call for straight-laced formality.
And though the program offered me great suggestions, there were times it got in the way when I was writing and editing an article. It usually takes a bit for the program to spot errors, so if you type quickly, it can be difficult for the software to keep pace, and you'll be left waiting as Grammarly works to catch back up. If having errors get underlined one by one as you're working sounds distracting, I’d suggest only turning Grammarly on once you're completely done with your first draft so it won't get in the way of your process.
Grammarly's tone detector also offers up some confusion. It's supposed to let you know how your writing sounds—whether it's formal, optimistic, friendly, etc.—but it doesn't offer much of an explanation behind its rulings (they're all conveyed through emojis). While these miss the mark at times, they're also easy to ignore.
However, the overall program was very effective on all the platforms I used it on. The tone emojis, delay in suggestions, and formality in texting are things I ended up not noticing much in the end (especially since you can ignore suggestions you don't want to take). If you are looking to enhance your writing skills and style, stop making the same grammar mistakes, and become a more consistent writer, Grammarly Premium can help get you on the right track.
What is the difference between Grammarly plans?
Grammarly offers multiple different plans based on your needs and the context of writing. First is the free category, which includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar assistance. At $12 per month, Premium helps with your work's style, clarity, and tone, including all the features from the free level. Additionally, you'll get things like plagiarism detection, formality level, sentence rewrites for clarity, and advanced suggestions. The Grammarly Business plan, at $13 per month, offers all that Premium has but for three to 149 different people. There is also Grammarly @edu (quote upon request), which educational institutions can provide students.