Reviews

Grammarly Review 2018 – A Practical Look at Grammarly as a Writing Enhancement Platform

grammarly review

This is a Grammarly review- a grammar checker that makes sure your content doesn’t have ‘stupid’ writing errors. 

Many a time, despite our best efforts, we make a bunch of grammar errors, typos, and sentence construction blunders in our write-ups. Yes, I know, we need to be extremely careful, detail-oriented and accurate when we write and should repeatedly proofread the content before it is published or sent to the recipient.

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But, mistakes happen and even if we take great care to go through the write up again and again, certain errors fly under the radar.  

It is right at this juncture that Grammarly enters the picture (drumrolls). It is the “friend” you need when you want to clean your content, rid it of those pesky grammar errors, typos and other mistakes we are prone to make when we write. 

So, what is Grammarly? 

To put in a nutshell, Grammarly tries to ensure your content doesn’t embarrass you. 

This Grammarly review will tell you what Grammarly is all about, its benefits and most importantly its limitations, if any. 

So, let’s begin.


What is Grammarly?

As a writer, I am always looking for tools that help me write better and make it easier for me to polish my content, get rid of embarrassing mistakes and generally make the write-up easier to consume for its target audience. I came across Grammarly, during one such search, and I have been using it since.

Grammarly calls itself a Free Grammar Checker, a Free Writing Assistant, and a Writing Enhancement Platform; basically, it aims to make your writing better, clearer, and more effective. So, whether you are writing an article, a social media post, a research paper, web page or anything else, Grammarly takes the content through its paces, checks for errors and delivers a clean copy.


What does Grammarly Include?

I know the question you might be asking is this – What more does Grammarly offer other than the usual grammar checks and identifying errors in punctuation? The answer is:


  • Reporting (Available in free version): Remember those report cards you got in school, providing details about your knowledge level in various subjects, well Grammarly gives you a report card too, but this offers detailed document insights.
grammarly reporting metrics

As can be seen, it offers meaningful insights about the write-up and how it can be improved. Over a period of time, you can actually improve your writing skills and make them more precise and accurate. The premium edition of Grammarly offers more information in the report as compared to the free version.


  • Grammarly Cards (Available in free version): Grammarly identifies grammar mistakes, spelling errors and punctuation misses, and provides detailed explanation on why it thinks, you have made an error. This ensures you get a better understanding of these errors and how to avoid these in the future.
grammarly cards


  • Set Language Preference (Available in free version): This is a good feature because it allows you to align your content with respect to the target audience you have in mind and the English dialect they speak and understand. Just go to profiles, set your preference and you are ready to go. The benefit is that Grammarly keeps your language preference in mind while identifying errors. 
grammarly language preference


  • Increase Words in Dictionary (Available in free version: If you think there is a particular word missing, you can add that word to your Grammarly dictionary. This is of great help if you are using certain words frequently and Grammarly flags them as spelling errors. 
grammarly dictionary


  • Plagiarism Checker (Available in premium version only): This one is a great feature because it goes through billions of web pages across the web to check whether your content is similar to other content on the web. Imagine a situation wherein you hire writers to work on a content project and want to judge their skillsets. This feature helps you check their originality w.r.t. to content and make sure there is no plagiarism involved. It is also of great benefit if you want to be sure that the content you have written isn’t similar to other content on the web. It essentially gives you confidence in your writing and thinking ability. 


  • Vocabulary Enhancement (Available in premium version only): This is another good tool, which gives you suggestions for words that are repeated throughout the article. Even if you have a bad habit of using a particular word multiple times through the article, this Grammarly feature will flag this overuse or repetition and suggest alternative words. These are context-driven suggestions so most of the times you don’t have to worry whether they fit or not.

How Much Does Grammarly Cost?

Grammarly has a free version and premium version, and one of the reasons why I like it so much and believe Grammarly for writers is such a great tool is that the free version is loaded with features. But the Premium version is should definitely be your go-to tool if you are looking for grammar checker tool with extensive features and which can not only improve your content but also deliver tremendous value addition.

how much does grammarly cost

How Do You Get Started with It?

The first thing you must do to use the web version of Grammarly is go here https://www.grammarly.com/

web version of grammarly

And click on login:

grammarly login screen

You can either log in with your Facebook or Google ID; the log in is a breeze. Once you log in you will come to the following screen:

grammarly dashboard

You are now ready to start using Grammarly.

Click on ‘New’

grammarly new upload

Once you do, you will reach this screen:

paste content to grammarly

Copy paste your content into the space provided and Grammarly starts to work its ‘magic’.

grammarly writing style

You will first see a window that asks some basic questions that determine the context of the content, which helps the tool understand the intent behind the content, the nature of the audience it is targeting, the writing style, the emotion it seeks to elicit from the audience and the domain of the write up.

The Goal Setting includes:

Intent: Inform, Describe, Convince, Tell a Story – Grammarly uses AI in this particular scenario, to give you targeted feedback regarding the improvements to be made if your content isn’t confirming to your intent. 

Audience: General, Knowledgeable, Expert – This is about the awareness of the audience with respect to a topic and whether your content is in sync with their subject proficiency.  

Style: Formal, Informal – The tone of writing is checked, whether you want a formal write-up or adopt a friendly writing style. 

Emotion: Mild, Strong – Again, Grammarly uses AI that offers targeted feedback for custom ‘emotion’ specific improvements – Emotions are central to any and every actionable content. It is emotions that determine whether a call-to-action is taken or not. 

Domain: Creative, Business, Technical etc. – the domain the write-up belongs to, determines content red-flags. 

You can either choose to ‘Set Goals’ every time you start a new document or just choose your setting once and you won’t be bothered again. I choose the former because my goals might change every time I write an article. I suggest you do the same. Also, it is imperative that you choose your goals with care as Grammarly offers improvement suggestions based on these goals.

For e.g., if your intent is to ‘inform’ but you have adopted a ‘storytelling’ style for your content piece, the suggestions will be such that they will change the intent of the article. I personally think goal setting is a great feature because it makes sure I don’t lose sight of my objective. My content piece doesn’t change its tone midway. 

So, even if my eyes aren’t on the ball, the Grammarly check ensures I achieve my goals.


Proof Reading with Grammarly

Is Grammarly worth it? Here’s a counter question, how do you judge the worth of a proofreading tool. If you are like me, you will not think of it as the end of your proofreading efforts.  But, there is no doubt it does a good job of improving your write-up. Here’s my suggestion. Start with the free version of Grammarly and then move on to the Premium version. 

What I’ve done for the purpose of the review is pasted the very first draft of this review on Grammarly:

What you see on the left is my write-up and on the right, you see the correct spelling suggestion. Just click on the suggestion if you want to make the change, and if you think you don’t want to change the existing spelling, click on the bin. Grammarly will move on to the next mistake. It also checks for punctuation errors, ensuring better sentence construction.

Now there are other ways you can access Grammarly, and that is through the Grammarly Extensions/Apps.


Grammarly Apps

Can you use Grammarly in Word? Yes, because Grammarly for Microsoft Office is essentially Grammarly for Word and Grammarly for Outlook.  All you need to do is download this Add-In setup .exe file on your computer, install it, choose both Word and Outlook and  once installed enable this Add-In on both the Word and Outlook menu bar.

The catch here is Grammarly for Word and Outlook only works if you have a Grammarly premium account. 

Grammarly for Windows is a native app that will be available on your desktop and is available for both Windows and Mac. 

grammarly for windows

When you want to use Grammarly, just drag and drop the file into this app, and you are ready to go.

grammarly for chrome

The Grammarly Chrome extension seamlessly integrates with the default content editor in WordPress, which is of great help to me when I am writing content for a WordPress blog. As I start typing, Grammarly starts doing its job of checking my content. 

Also, I can add new words to Grammarly, which means its vocabulary is expanding in sync with my requirements; it’s essentially keeping up. It’s important to remember that everything is happening automatically. 

If Grammarly thinks, I’ve misspelled a word, it will flag the error by underlining it, and give me the correct suggestion when I hover my mouse over the word. But, the Chrome extension’s benefit is not limited to WordPress, alone; Grammarly kicks into action when I am composing a mail on Gmail, writing a Facebook post, or creating a Tweet. 

Basically, if I am writing something on a web platform opened through Chrome, Grammarly is there to help. 

There is also something called the Grammarly Keyboard for Android and iOS. What is the Grammarly Keyboard?

grammarly keyboard

Just download this app on your device, log in with your Grammarly credentials, go to setting, enable this keyboard and then switch your keyboards. So now whenever you type, you will be using the Grammarly keyboard, which will write mistake-free, when you are composing content on your mobile phone. And yes, the app is free.


Grammarly Free Vs. Grammarly Premium

grammarly free grammarly premium

As can be imagined, if you sign up for a premium Grammarly account, you will get plenty of features that are not available in the free version.

What do you get with a premium Grammarly account? Here’s a comparison of some of the extra features you get with a premium account:

premium grammarly account

The differences are apparent immediately and can be described in one word -drilldown. The premium version takes a more in-depth view of your content from the grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and writing style perspective. According to Grammarly, the premium edition offers ‘400 types of checks and features’.

Grammarly Premium is Grammarly Free on steroids.

If I have to point at one premium feature that towers over others, it is the plagiarism detection tool that checks around 16 billion web pages to ensure your content is original. So, why do I think this is such an important feature? 

Well, the truth is there are very few thoughts that are absolutely ‘original’ any more. Thoughts are shaped by what we read, what we see and what we hear. Take the case of a blog post on a particular topic. 

Now, in order to write on that topic, we conduct a fair bit of research, go through other articles on similar topics, get a better understanding of the topic through our research and then write. There might be a case where our write up develops “eerie” similarities to another article that we read and subconsciously internalized. 

We don’t realize it, but we might be borderline plagiarizing from that article. In such cases, the Plagiarism Checker Tool is a blessing in disguise. 

Something else that Grammarly offers in addition to the premium subscription is Human Proofreading.

human proofreading

Yes, you can ask a ‘human proofreader’, an expert professional to take a look at your content. 

But, do not for a moment think, the proofreader will rewrite, restructure or reorganize your content. They are just going to check grammar, punctuation and form errors, much like what Grammarly does. 

So, don't set the wrong expectations.


Is the Premium Version a Good Idea?

So, here’s the deal, I had written a really long and complex sentence that I thought was really well written. But, Grammarly Premium thought otherwise. It asked me to break the sentence down into smaller sentences that were easier to understand.

A good feature in the premium version is ‘Vocabulary Enhancement’; this makes vocabulary suggestions and identifies words that are repeated again and again throughout the article and suggests synonyms that essentially make the sentences more meaningful, get rid of the repetition, and in many cases the vocabulary enhancement actually does a really good job of augmenting a sentence or paragraph. 

The thing to understand is that, these are the kind of mistakes that we might not notice even after repeated proofreading. 

Grammarly is a big help in this regard.

I have talked about the plagiarism checker tool in Grammarly’s premium version and why it is such a big help, so I won’t go into it again. Suffice to say, it takes a great load off your shoulders because once Grammarly has taken a look at your article, you are confident, it is absolutely unique and doesn’t resemble any article out there. 

Yes, Grammarly for Premium works and works big time. If you are willing to invest some money in a Grammar checker tool, then the Grammarly’s premium edition isn’t a bad investment at all.  

So, do I think, Grammarly Premium is a good idea or not? I think it is a brilliant idea. Also, I think this is a no-brainer. If you are willing to make a financial commitment towards a tool, the paid version is always better than a free version. 

And I repeat, realistic expectations are the key here.


Why is Grammarly Good for Writers and Bloggers?

A great facet of Grammarly is that it doesn't just identify your mistake, but also says why it believes, a particular punctuation, spelling or sentence construction (tense, active/passive) is wrong. I not only know what my errors are, but also understand why these are errors. I believe this is important, because it is this 'understanding' that helps me become a better writer. 

Grammarly for writers or bloggers is a good choice irrespective of whether they go for a Free or Premium version. However, you need to decide on the amount of help you need. The free version is good as it is, but the premium version is better. The premium version offers more than double the number of checks compared to the free version and offers custom checks for over 25 documents. 

For me, personally, Grammarly is like my writing tutor. It points out grammar mistakes that I don’t know I am making and offers explanations in a way that I understand. And here’s the thing. Since the time I started using Grammarly, I have seen a marked improvement in my write-ups, even without using this tool. 

The great thing about Grammarly is that it can be used by writers who are just beginning their professional journey, writers with intermediate experience and expertise and also expert writers. There is something in it for everyone. 

But, and this is a big but, it does not pick each and every error you make, sometimes it might flag a word or sentence as an error, but it might not be an error. The key here is that you mustn’t blindly make changes just because Grammarly is asking you to.


Limitations of Grammarly

Well, Grammarly has certain limitations, and it’s definitely not as comprehensive a grammar, spelling, and punctuation checker as you would like it to be. There are plenty of articles out there, which talk about Grammarly limitations. 

So, if there are 5 Americanisms, and you have set the tool to British English, there might be a case where it catches 4 and misses one. It might catch 13 out of the 15 spelling errors you make and miss two, for various reasons. 

Now, you might say these should have been flagged, and you will be right. 

But, no grammar checker out there is perfect. Most of them have some limitations or the other. I personally feel Grammarly is a good tool despite these misses and I make it point to go through my write-up a few times after I take it through Grammarly. 

This way, I am pretty sure I catch the mistakes that Grammarly doesn’t necessarily catch. 

So depend on Grammarly, but don’t think it’s going to do YOUR job for you. Ultimately, you are responsible for your content. Don’t foist this responsibility on anyone else. 

Here’s the thing, the people behind any tool are going to say, it’s the best in business and you don’t have to look beyond that tool for a specific kind of service. It’s their job to say so. It’s your job to judge the actual merits and demerits of the tool.


Pros and Cons of Grammarly

Pros

  • Available in Free as well as Premium Version.
  • Premium version comes with comprehensive content improvement features.
  • It works with most websites and social media platforms.
  • It integrates with MS Word and Microsoft Outlook.
  • It is extremely user-friendly
  • It offers an amazing plagiarism checker tool.
  • It performs exhaustive grammar checks on your content.

Cons

  • Free version offers limited features.
  • Premium version can be a little costly and you have to budget for it.
  • It does not integrate with Google Docs.
  • MS Office integration is only available with Premium version.
  • It might take some getting used to especially when it comes to understanding Grammarly report or Grammarly card.
  • The tool is only available with the Premium version.
  • You might still have to proofread your content after the Grammarly check as it might not identify all the mistakes.

You can see, there aren’t really many problems with Grammarly, especially if you go with the Premium version. At the end of the day, you must do a bit of research to know whether Grammarly suits your needs and requirements or not. I personally have no doubt that you will find Grammarly a tool, worthy of attention and use.


My Verdict

I believe Grammarly, especially the premium version is a great tool. I can take my content through a pretty good checkup and it identifies most mistakes I make. The idea is to set your expectations from a grammar checker, and it does meet my expectations. It hasn’t disappointed me because I don’t solely depend on it to improve my content. 

I use it as a dependable helper, that helps save some valuable time and also as an educator who helps me learn a few things that I might not know or might have forgotten about grammar or punctuation usage or sentence construction. 

All in all, it is a good tool. You should be using it.

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