If you have arrived at this page, you are considering an online grammar checker.
There are many to choose from, so you need to know which one will work best for you.
Time is tight, and you probably want a quick answer to one of the following questions.
I’ll try to save you time before you read my full review. Here are the four most common questions, with my very quick answers.
A quick Q and A about Grammarly
1. What is Grammarly?
It is an online grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing checker. A lot of writers use it to help them correct and improve many different forms of writing.
It is a very popular writing tool for bloggers. Also for article writers and authors writing a book as well as students and occasional writers.
2. Is it any good?
Yes, it is very, very good indeed.
In fact, it is now one of my most essential writing tools. I use it all day, every day.
That’s why I am writing this review.
3. Is it free?
Yes, there is a totally free version.
It works using the Grammarly extension that is available for many browsers. It is perfect for finding critical grammar and spelling mistakes in your online writing.
You can download your free version of Grammarly here.
4. Is it worth paying for the premium version?
If you write a lot or write for an income, yes, it is well worth the price.
The editor is not a human proofreader, but it comes quite close. It is a superb spelling and grammar checker.
However, if you are a student or occasional writer the free version will most likely be all you will ever need.
Now for my full Grammarly review
I will start with the basics.
For a writer, you need to check your writing, because typos and grammar errors are a killer for your reputation.
That is why I always rely on a little writing help.
You might find it surprising that I admit to using an online grammar checker. But it is like my right hand in helping me correct my writing typos and grammar mistakes.
If you are like me, you write a lot of short texts on the Internet. So you’ll know that it is hard to avoid making errors when you are writing in a hurry.
It could be on Facebook, Twitter or writing blog comments. I always make sure that my short social media posts or replies to comments are free of spelling and grammar errors.
It is one of the first ways that this grammar app shines.
It is so easy to write a quick comment or reply and make a silly mistake. It is amazing how fast the Grammar Police can attack even the smallest error.
Correcting silly typos is easy. All it takes is one click to correct an underlined error in real-time.
It works exactly the same for long-form writing. But at least there is more time available to check, find and correct grammar errors.
How I found Grammarly
The grammar and spell check in Microsoft Word is extremely limited.
Because of that, I started trying a few online spelling and grammar checkers years ago. But none of them worked completely to my satisfaction.
They all helped in some ways. But I often found myself changing the suggested corrections because the recommended sentence structures didn’t feel natural.
Perhaps because they were based too strictly on grammar rules.
But only a very few of the free apps I tried could detect complex issues such as sentence fragments or run-on sentences.
Perhaps I had a hang-up with free apps. Or maybe I was too critical of grammar checking apps.
But after trying a lot of free apps, it was clear that one was by far the best. I found myself using the free version of Grammarly every day.
But I knew it could offer more for me. So I finally decided to grab my credit card and pay for the premium version for a few months.
That was well over three years ago now. It was one of the best decisions I have made to help improve my writing accuracy.
Using Grammarly – What I discovered
I had used the free version for quite a while.
But I didn’t fully realise how many advanced grammar tools the premium version offered to improve my writing.
The free version does an excellent job of finding critical grammar and spelling mistakes.
But the premium version allows you to access a much more. There is so much in-depth analysis you can use. It includes an extended list of checks and tools.
So I started with the premium version. I found that the browser extension worked with everything I use to write online.
Like the free version, it works with Safari, Chrome or Firefox browsers.
But with the paid version, I now had access to instant synonyms.
It really helps you write better and more accurately when you are in a hurry. It works by highlighting spelling and grammatical mistakes in an instant.
For a synonym, just click on a word to access a long list of choices.
One of the differences over other similar apps is speed. It works super fast and never lags or locks up.
I have a habitual typo tic when typing ‘the’, which so often comes out as ‘teh’. It’s annoying, but it fixes it for me every time.
It means that my Facebook and Twitter posts and replies are always scanned for errors.
Not only that, but it also works seamlessly with my WordPress editor when I write my blog articles. It works almost like a native WordPress plugin.
Then I downloaded the editor desktop app. It immediately became a vital tool for me for checking sentence structure in my long-form writing.
I ran through a few chapters of one of my already published books. I was quite horrified to discover quite a few errors that had escaped a lot of human eyes. Not many, but enough to realise that a little extra help can go a long way.
After my first three-month subscription expired, I was convinced. I bought a twelve-month subscription because it was much cheaper at around $11.00 a month.
I think I know that I know how to write. But my stumbles or laziness, especially online, are less likely to result in silly, embarrassing errors now.
My review for short-form online writing
The browser extension works in real-time in most browsers.
But I use it mostly with Safari and Chrome for my WordPress sites. It works seamlessly with the WordPress editor and feels like it is a native plugin.
When I am writing blog posts, I usually turn it off. When I am writing, I prefer not to be distracted.
But when I finish the first draft, I turn it back on. Then I conduct a full and comprehensive check. There are two modes you can use with the premium version.
The first is that it marks the most critical errors by underlining them in red in my editor.
But for deeper analysis and correction, I can open the full editor from within my WordPress editor. You can see the yellow button in the image below.
Clicking on the yellow advanced button opens the full editor in an overlay pane. Then I can scroll through the suggestions and accept, correct or ignore each issue.
Day to day uses
Where it also comes in very useful for me is when I post comments on newspapers or blogs. These are posts that I always want to ensure are error-free.
Making even a small spelling, verb agreement or grammatical error would not reflect well on me as a writer.
One small grammar error and I’m history!
With it activated, any small error is picked up by the spell checker, and I can correct it with one click.
It has saved me many times. Often for little typos and misspelt, or misspelled words such as “teh”.
Also, the spelling check can find contextual spelling errors such as “its and it’s” and “then & than”. It also highlights the overuse of the passive.
It works perfectly for all of my online work. It helps me keep my short-form English writing as error-free as possible.
My review for long-form writing
I don’t like distractions when I am writing a novel in word processors like Microsoft Word. So I always turn off the auto spelling and grammar check. All those red and green underlines are annoying.
However, I then run a check once I have finished a chapter. Now though, I always run my writing through Grammarly.
There are two ways to access the editor. One is the online editor, and as I am a Mac user, I also have the desktop editor.
The choice of settings in the editor is far more extensive than in Microsoft Word.
You can choose from a range of different types of texts, depending on the writing style. It is one of its biggest advantages for me.
When I first started using the editor, I made the mistake of doing a copy and paste. But I discovered that all my formatting was lost.
It can integrate with directly in Word, but only for PC users. I use Apple, so, sadly, this facility is not available for me. But hopefully, it will be in the near future.
However, I learned that I could quickly upload my completed chapters in Word docx.
When I finished the check and corrections, I could export it back in Word format. Now I didn’t lose any of my text, font and paragraph formattings.
The editor picks up almost all grammar and spelling errors, of course. But what I like the most about it for long-form writing is that it finds repeated words.
It is difficult to find repeated words in long passages of text. But it finds them all, which is a huge time saver for me.
Another correction tool I find very useful is one that highlights unusual collocations. It calls it fluency.
Information such as in the image above at my fingertips when doing an initial edit is a huge advantage.
The more errors I can find the better. Any improvements I can make during my first draft saves me hours of work later on.
When you use the editor, every suggestion comes with a card or a series of cards. These help you make informed choices for your corrections or re-writing.
Every card gives you an explanation. You can then choose an option for improvement.
Click on the error count in the right-hand assistant sidebar. The errors are then listed in a series of suggestion cards.
You only have to work your way through the marked corrections and make the necessary changes. It is then a quick and very easy process.
Thirty-six individual checks
With the premium editor, every facet of your writing is checked. It is then up to you to make the best decisions about how to improve your writing from the listed suggestions.
Another great feature is that you can select from four versions of English. Not only US and British English but also Canadian and Australian.
You can also get a full and detailed report about your text from the editor.
You can check your reading time, speaking time and your Flesch-Kincaid readability score, which are all useful data segments.
You can type and work directly in the editor just the same as you would use a word processor.
All your work is auto-saved, which is a huge bonus. If you want to write free of distractions, you can hide the writing assistant.
However, you would probably use the editor mostly for uploading and checking documents. Supported files are Microsoft Word .doc, .docx, and OpenOffice .odt, as well as .txt and .rtf.
If you are using the extension for Word and Outlook, there is no document size or page limit.
But when you are using the editor, there is a file upload limit of 100,000 characters. It equates to about 20-25,000 words.
This is only an issue if you are checking a long manuscript such as a novel.
But it is always easier to work on short sections such as individual chapters. So this limit is not really an issue for most writers and authors.
When you have finished editing a document, you then download it and it will retain all your original formatting.
When you work with Word files, it will add a notation in track changes for all the edits you make. Every change you make in the editor is marked as “Grammarly” in track changes.
If you want to change the track changes editor name, you can. Read this article on how to modify track changes names in Word for Windows and Mac.
Weekly email updates
With a premium account, you also get a weekly update of your writing progress.
You also get a resume of your most frequent mistakes.
Grammarly works and is my go-to writing tool
It is now an essential tool for me for all forms of writing. I use it every day and all day. Does it replace a human editor? No, of course not.
But because I write a lot, I get full value from my subscription of $11.00 a month. It saves me a huge amount of time between writing a rough first draft and the final version.
Nothing will ever replace a human proofreader when it comes to the final proofreading of your texts.
But by using intelligent online help, it does a fantastic job in locating most errors quickly and efficiently. It also helps me make improvements with excellent suggestions.
The free version of the English language grammar checker offers a lot of assistance. There are browser extensions available, as well as mobile apps for the Grammarly keyboard.
It is an excellent way to try out some of the features of Grammarly and check your critical writing errors instantly.
However, the paid version comes with a host of extra features.
These include the editor, vocabulary enhancement, a personal dictionary, and choice of writing styles. It makes it an essential everyday writing tool for me.
Another feature that I use from time to time is the plagiarism checker. Before I publish any guest content on my blog, this tool lets me quickly check that all the text is original.
With the premium version, you can log in and use it on up to five different devices. That’s a great bonus. You can share your login with your family.
For users of Google Docs, there is good news. It is in beta testing right now. If you are a premium user, you can turn it on in your preferences.
You can subscribe per month or quarterly. But obviously, Grammarly costs less if take an annual subscription and save yourself a lot of money.
I highly recommended the premium version for all writers. Especially for those who are relatively new to writing, blogging or self-publishing.
It can help you so much to improve your writing accuracy and variety.
It is a very efficient tool to check and hone your writing skills. It will definitely help you to develop your writing.
Nice review, but it can’t be perfect
True. It is not perfect.
One bug that annoys me is that when I use the editor with WordPress.
It overrides all ‘open in new tab’ settings on links. The workaround is not to add links until after you have fully checked and edited your text.
Another little gripe is when you open the full editor from inside WordPress.
If you are on a laptop, the left sidebar sometimes overlays the editor. This makes it difficult to navigate the listed errors.
Another small issue is one-click corrections. Sometimes when you click a correction, it will not add a space between words. Then you have to make the correction manually.
It is rare but can be a little annoying.
I am a Mac user, so it is still disappointing that it does not work with Word for Mac or Pages. But I live in hope. Until then, the editor does everything I really need to do.
But these are relatively minor issues. For all the benefits I get, I can live with them.
Watch Grammarly in action.
Are there any alternatives to Grammarly?
There are many free and premium grammar checkers available now.
The most comparable app that I would suggest is ProWritinAid.
I use it too because it has so many reports that dig deeper into your writing style and consistency.
It is also available in a free browser app version. But the premium version editor and analyser is where it truly excels.
One very big plus for ProWritingAid is that it is much cheaper.
The price for Prowritingaid does not offer a per month option. But the basic annual price is less than half that of Grammarly.
Prowritingaid has another advantage. It is compatible with Scrivener, which is a huge bonus for authors.
You might want to read my review of ProWritingAid for more detailed information.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
Latest posts by Derek Haines (see all)
- Can You Recover From A Google Algorithm Update? - December 6, 2019
- Why Are Ing Words Considered Weak In Fiction Writing? - December 6, 2019
- Knowing About Writing Styles Can Help You Write Better - December 6, 2019