Review: Grammarly

August 18, 2013

Long time no write, everyone! Today, I'm going to review a cool little service called Grammarly. Do note that I was provided with a one-month trial free of charge in exchange for feedback and an honest review.

What I like most about Grammarly is that it's stellar for proofreading emails, website copy, and professional discourse. (And blog posts. I ran this post through Grammarly.) All you have to do is copy/paste your text into their Review Box, select the "genre" that best matches yours (i.e. academic, casual, business, etc), and hit "Start Review." Grammarly generates scores based on the number of errors found and tracks the frequency of specific mistakes. Once the text is reviewed, Grammarly provides explanations and examples for any mistakes it encounters. Grammarly also allows you to "compare" revised documents to their original counterpart. There is even an option to "dismiss" errors if you feel you have not made a mistake.

Grammarly alerted me to a few recurring issues with my writing, namely split infinitives and passive voice in my academic papers. I struggle with anything that isn't fiction (blogging and academic papers, for instance), so Grammarly is a huge help in that regard. It also allows me to send emails to other professionals in my field without the worry that I made some egregious mistake that'll make me look like an idiot.

I had a few suggestions for the Grammarly team, which are as follows:

1. The ability to "reject" errors (and even whole documents!) so that they do not factor into the average score on the dashboard. For example, I accidentally pasted the entirety of an email into the review box and was "penalized" for mistakes made by the original sender! Using the "ignore" button doesn't seem to revive my score in such cases.

2. It might be helpful if users could create "projects" that display scores and the frequency of various grammar issues for a user-specified set of documents (and revisions thereof). For example, the ability to create a "Grad School" folder or project would allow me to better understand recurring issues with my graduate school application documents alone.

Currently, my dashboard displays a list of mistakes I have made across multiple writing styles. The problem I have with this set-up is that the mistakes I make in my creative writing and emails differ from those found in my academic writing. Being able to view separate statistics and feedback for specific categories or clusters of documents would make for an even more productive user experience.

Although this is not a deal-breaker, Grammarly occasionally gives me incorrect recommendations:

And some recommendations that I don't really understand:

Suggestions and the odd recommendation aside, Grammarly is a great second pair of eyes as well as a quick and easy way to catch grammatical issues. If you are an academic or write professional discourse on a daily basis, I would highly recommend trying it out. The site has saved me a fair amount of worry and time so far, so I'm betting it'll do the same for you!

(Its effectiveness for novels depends on the genre you're writing. If the grammatical style is intentionally incorrect to begin with, Grammarly may not be as effective as it could be for your particular project.)

Ahhh. Victory.

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