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Do you want an extra tool to help you improve your grammar in your writing? Grammarly might be the tool for you.
In this Grammarly review, we will dissect the popular grammar checker, see how it stands up to the competition, see if it is even needed in our lives and finally give our decision on whether Grammarly is worth the cost.
Let's get to it…
I often joke with my children that they are never going to learn the fine art of writing cursive… or win any spelling bees… thanks to a little gadget we call the computer.
Chrome books are almost a staple in American classrooms these days, starting at the elementary level. Kids are actually being asked to type, instead of write.
Legible penmanship… who needs it?
Cursive? Is that a board game??
How do you spell “progress”?
While we weren’t paying attention… technological advances have allowed text messaging, email, video chat, and social media to replace actual phone conversations and snail-mail.
Do you know what else it’s done?
It has essentially eliminated the dictionary.
The days of looking up how to spell a word, or its definition, are a thing of the past… unless you fancy yourself quirky and carry a Merriam Webster around with you for kicks.
Your computer, tablet, smartphone will either suggest a replacement word – or automatically correct – spelling for you. Heck, it will even define a word for you and list synonyms.
And now, this technology has gone a step further… capable of detecting our tone and checking our grammar, thanks to a little application called Grammarly.
The Grammarly checker tool is committed to providing its users with clear, mistake-free writing that makes the right impression. It goes beyond your basic spell checker tool to help you create clear and concise messages across all applications.
In this Grammarly review, I’ll explain:
What is Grammarly and Who is it for?
Grammarly is an online support tool that not only corrects spelling but also provides suggestions for:
- Proper grammar and punctuation
- Tone & Mood
Some of these are included in the basic membership, while others require a premium package. But more on that later.
Grammarly touts itself on being perfect for aspiring writers, bloggers, marketers, copywriters, students, proposal and report writers, journalists… but it’s also just dandy for social media addicts who want to pack a punch with their posts.
Signing up is free and simple… all you need is an email address, Google or Facebook account.
But, if you’re like most people, you’re likely wondering “why should I bother?”.
I mean, isn’t spell check sufficient?
My phone even does it for me.
You don’t actually need anything that Grammarly is selling… and, yes, they are eventually going to try and sell you on additional features.
That being said, what is also true is this…
Anybody who craves those added features (like tone, clarity, the plagiarism check) would be hard-pressed to find an app that does it better than Grammarly.
Grammarly is the best, hands down.
It’s got a fun vibe to it… almost as if a buddy is offering suggestions on how to make your writing better, instead of just telling you to change something with no explanation as to why.
The average spell and punctuation checker will just underline a word and ask you to hit, “change”. Heck, it may even autocorrect it.
But what do you learn from that?
Grammarly doesn’t play that game.
In fact, if a word is spelled incorrectly, Grammarly will underline it in red and a suggestion will pop up. Then, a note will read, “We didn’t find that word in our dictionary. If you’re sure that the spelling is correct, you can add it to your personal dictionary.”
Yes, Grammarly offers you a customizable personal dictionary… which is great for things like nicknames or slang terms you may use often in your writing.
Pretty cool, right?
So, have I persuaded you to keep reading?
How to Use the Grammarly Checker
If you are using a desktop, Grammarly offers a free Chrome browser extension. It claims to make the experience more seamless by eliminating the need to switch between screens – or have to copy and paste the text.
This is especially handy if you’re using the program for online posting.
Besides Chrome, Grammarly also works with these popular web browsers:
Now, if I am being honest, many desktop-based apps want you to download a browser extension and I’m just not a fan of cluttered toolbars.
Plus, I’ve had a few experiences with extensions causing various programs to go haywire.
Full disclosure: There were some reviews claiming that Grammarly’s chrome extension caused problems in Google Sheets and Docs.
[Editor comment: I have been using Grammarly for about two years now. I have the extension and use google docs/sheets all the time. I have personally not seen any of the errors mentioned above.]
So… I chose not to add the extension and see what happens.
It’s honestly not the end of the world.
When you log in for the first time, the desktop version displays a demo document – which goes over what Grammarly can do.
The platform appears rather simplistic — equipped with a sidebar assistant that displays performance, alerts, and goals. By clicking on the “overall score” tab, a separate window displays a score that is given for the overall quality of writing in the document.
The window also displays word count and readability.
Your score can be increased by adhering to Grammarly’s suggestions, which is also easy. Accepting suggestions simply involves clicking on them. In fact, Grammarly explains why it made the suggestion and then directs you on what to click in order to change it.
It’s basically like having an English professor standing behind you while writing a paper.
The basic version of Grammarly limits document change suggestions to:
A premium version will include these additional suggestions:
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Also included with premium is a plagiarism search and third party proofreading.
Once you’ve gone through the demo document and familiarize yourself with the click-to-edit format, you can then opt to take a quick tour to get you started.
It explains what Grammarly can help you with – beyond grammar and punctuation. The program provides feedback and helps you to identify your audience, so your writing is more concise.
Once the tour is over, you’re ready to start writing. You have 3 choices with the desktop version:
- Create a new document
- Copy & Paste a document
- Upload a document
This can be done in the pulldown menu, marked by Grammarly’s green arrow-like icon.
For the purposes of this review, I chose to copy and paste my article into the Grammarly tool… at which point a window popped up asking me to “Set Goals”. These include:
You can choose to turn this “Set Goals” feature off.
I am happy to report receiving a score of 83/100 on my original document… which then increased to 96/100 after accepting a few of Grammarly’s minor edits.
Not too shabby.
In addition to using the online version of Grammarly, the program does offer a downloadable plug-in for Microsoft Office.
Sadly, Google Docs (which is where I do all of my writing) does not currently offer a standalone plug-in. You must use the Chrome extension to utilize Grammarly in Google Docs.
That being said, I just copied and pasted my document into Grammarly and it worked just fine. I guess I didn’t mind the extra step for a tidier toolbar.
If you are using Grammarly on a smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to download the free app via Google Play or iTunes.
Once the download is complete, click on the icon to open the app and select how to sign up… Google, Facebook or email.
Once you’re all set up, you will be asked to go into your device settings and allow the Grammarly keyboard installation. Doing so will replace your current keyboard, which is the only way Grammarly can work on your smartphone or tablet.
There is a warning that pops up after you elect to use the Grammarly keyboard… basically saying that anything you type may be stored and saved by a third party. This includes passwords, credit card info, etc….
I use an Android phone, so I suspect that the warning is coming from my Google-centric device.
That being said, it was enough to lend me pause.
I mean, identity theft is running rampant… and the best hackers are finding their way through even the best antivirus software.
But keyboard strokes on my phone?
Anything is possible.
Still, I accepted the warning and installed the Grammarly keyboard because I’m passionate about my writing and wanted to give a thorough review… oh, and because I have Bitdefender on my phone.
Anywho… the keyboard is pretty basic. Has the Grammarly icon in the top left corner. There are a few “suggested” words for autofill across the top.
The main difference was the numbers, which my android keyboard places in the top row above its letters… Grammarly requires you tap a special key to access numbers.
Honestly, it’s a preference thing and wasn’t a deal-breaker. It may not bother you at all.
The Grammarly icon is what you click on for clarification of suggested edits. It took some getting used to for me… but, overall, it is still a pretty cool feature and poses a similar look to the desktop version’s editor.
Furthermore, because Grammarly has its own keyboard, it works on anything you attempt to type from your device.
Social media posts.
Direct messaging (ie… Slack, Skype, Zoom)
The keyboard works across all apps.
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Grammarly Cost: Is Grammarly Free?
Grammarly is a business, folks.
And albeit a super cool and innovative one… its founders want to make money.
Isn’t that the point of starting a business?
So while they do offer tiered levels of membership, it’s not mandatory in order to enjoy the basics.
Basic FREE membership includes:
Premium membership includes some great additional features, such as:
Premium membership starts at $11.66 per month, billed annually. You may also opt to pay quarterly or monthly, but the best value is in the annual package… which saves you roughly $200 versus the monthly membership.
Both basic and premium members receive access on 5 devices, by a single user.
Sadly, Grammarly doesn’t offer a free trial of its premium membership at this time.
So, if you’re curious yet skittish, you can opt to try it for one month. I am told that Grammarly will refund your money, no questions asked, within 10-days if you don’t like it.
Beyond the ten days, Grammarly allows you to cancel without incurring further charges, provided you do so before your term ends (1 month, 3 month or 12 month). You will have access to Grammarly for the remainder of your term.
Is Grammarly Worth It?
Whether it be an item. A service. A trip. A school. A job. A person… deciding if something or someone is worth your time, effort or money is a question we will all need to answer throughout our lives.
Grammarly is one of those questions.
If you are a professional writer, student… or just work in a field where writing effective documents is important, Grammarly Premium is 100% worth it. In fact, it may even be a tax write off in some cases.
The app is fresh, easy to navigate and actually makes sense! When you read Grammarly’s suggestions, you will find yourself saying, “That does sound better!”. I promise you.
I also promise I’ve never done that with the old spell checker.
Conversely, if you are not writing very much… perhaps just some posts here and there… I’m not sure you’d want to pay the monthly fee for premium. Quite honestly, who cares if your posts sound riveting? Or has a confident tone?
Still, the free version is a good little tool… miles better than the rest out there.. It is simple to use and can make you sound like a better writer than you actually are.
And if you're looking for other useful apps, be sure to check out our other reviews:
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization and product reviews.