There are many tools available to us online. From graphic manipulation to nifty plugins that add all sorts of features to our websites, we spend hours on making our content look perfect. That’s great but, much of the time, we completely ignore the actual content itself.
Grammarly is the perfect tool to address this shortcoming. Yes, we have spell and grammar checkers built into the various programs we use to build our content but, although they are decent, they’re not really robust enough to address grammar and spelling as a whole.
Grammarly has become the de facto standard when it comes to spelling and grammar checks in the blogging world. It covers the same stuff as the built-in options of whatever program you’re currently using and so much more.
We’ll take a look at Grammarly and see what it is, why you need it, the pros and cons and compare it to the competition out there. Once you’re finished reading this post, you should have a good idea of whether or not Grammarly is a good fit for you.
Let’s get started…
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Grammarly is a real-time online grammar and spelling checker that you can use to check all of your written (typed) content. Emails, articles, books, essays, etc. Grammarly will look for grammar, punctuation, spelling mistakes, typos, writing style, word choice, duplicate content and plagiarism. Whatever you have in a text-based electronic format can be checked.
I say text-based because you may have an image with text on it but, as it’s an image, it can’t really be edited easily and isn’t supported. That said, you can use some sort of optical character recognition (OCR) program to convert the image to text but that’s outside the scope of this article.
Let me touch on a couple of the features I listed above:
Grammarly will detect grammar and punctuation mistakes on a wide range of issues from basic to advanced and offer real-time correction suggestions.
Grammarly has a huge database of words and phrases to reference and check for spelling mistakes. You even have the option of adding words it may not know about (which is rare).
Your writing is compared to billions of web pages to check for duplicate content and plagiarism. As a blogger, I know how important unique content is, especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Run a plagiarism check here.
Grammarly scores your content for readability, sentence length, word selection, etc. and provides insights to help you make it better. This is not only great for your content as a whole but can help you when tailoring your writing style for a specific audience.
There are multiple ways to take advantage of the Grammarly platform too. You can write directly in their web-based editor, upload documents to be checked, use a plugin/extension for your favorite web browsers and apps/suites such as Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Firefox and so on or even use their macOS and Windows desktop apps.
Grammarly even offers the ability to use your phone (Android or iOS) and offers the Grammarly keyboard on those devices, checking your writing as you type and offering smart predictions to help speed up the process.
It’s actually a pretty impressive platform that you should at least check out for yourself. That said, let’s see if you actually need Grammarly…
Yes and No. From a purely black and white view. No one needs Grammarly. You can write whatever want, however you want and publish, print, send it, etc. Even if you’re not an English (or your country’s primary language) major, many of the tools you use today have spelling and grammar checks built-in. That said, most people want to project a certain level of competence and professionalism, especially in work/business-related communications.
So what makes Grammarly so special? First off, it’s like your current grammar and spell checker on steroids. It does everything your built-in solution does and more. One of the best features is that it tells you why you need to make a change. It might be spelling, punctuation or it could be a different word suggestion and so on. Not only will this make your writing better but it will help you hone your skills and create better copy as you continue to use it.
With its huge user base, it’s constantly being updated and “learning” more and more each day. This only helps to make the platform stronger and more useful as time goes by. I also think that being able to adjust the tool to your specific needs is a great benefit.
English may be your primary language but there are subtle differences (and some not so subtle ones) between American English, British English, Canadian English and so on. By telling Grammarly who you’re writing for, you’ll be given the appropriate suggestions for that audience.
You can even set goals. This lets you tell Grammarly things like your intent (is it to inform, describe, convince, etc.?), audience (general, expert, etc.), style (formal or informal), emotion and so on. Being able to set options like this will let Grammarly custom tailor it’s suggestions to fit your writing goals. This is an amazing feature to have available to you.
Another feature you might find useful is the ability to turn it off for specific sites. Most products only off an on or off option. Being able to disable it based on the site you’re using, is kind of nice, although I don’t know why you’d turn it off personally.
So, do you need Grammarly? Ultimately, that’s up to you. I say check out the free version and go from there. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons now…
Obviously, there are pros. Why else would it exist? But now you’re saying there are cons too? Yes. Everything has pros and cons. Bacon cheeseburgers? They’re great. Sadly, they’re not so great for my cholesterol. The same can be said for Grammarly. Well, not about cholesterol but you get the idea.
Let’s see what some of the pros and cons are.
No more having to write it all out and then select an option to check spelling and grammar at the end. Grammarly will highlight issues in real-time, alerting you to them as you write. Not only will this help you address the issue as you go but, by correcting issues as your writing, it will help you to become a better writer.
Most spelling and grammar checking solutions just say “This is wrong. Use this.”. Grammarly no only tells you it’s wrong but goes on to tell you why. On rare occasion, this can actually save you from making the change because you can determine from the context that the assumption is incorrect.
By selecting settings such as the type of English you’re targeting, your intended audience and so forth, you can get better, more accurate suggestions from the platform.
Grammarly is extremely accurate in most cases. I don’t know about you, but I’ve blindly followed other tool’s recommendations, only to find out later that my original writing was correct and the corrective recommendation was wrong.
You can simply upload your final document, use a plugin, use their editor or desktop app. It’s not difficult at all and doesn’t slow your workflow down.
Minor Compatibility Issues
As of this writing, Grammarly doesn’t work with Google Docs. That said, they are working on a solution that is in beta testing now. If you primarily use Google Docs, this might be a deal-breaker for you. At least for now.
This really only applies to the free version. Although the free version is great, compared to the pay-for option (Premium), it’s very limited.
If you’re using the free version, the trade-off, besides feature set, is the constant bombardment of ads trying to get you to upgrade to Premium. What can I say? Free isn’t always free.
Frankly, I think the pros outweigh the cons. The only way to really be sure is to check it out yourself. If you like it great, if not, no harm was done other than spending a little time to test it. If you do find that it’s not for you, you might want to check out some of the other options available…
Grammarly offers three levels of service. Each builds on the one before it. Let’s take a quick look at the options available…
Who doesn’t like free? Here’s what you’ll get with this level of service:
That’s not bad for a free offering and definitely worth checking out. Now let’s see what Premium has to entice us with…
Cost: $29.95/mo, $59.94/quarter or $139.95/year
Free plus more. Premium includes everything free has to offer and then some. Here are the additional perks offered by the Premium tier:
For me, the additional features listed here make the Premium option worthwhile. The Plagiarism checker alone just makes sense.
Cost: $15 per user/month when billed annually
Premium with a few additional features for businesses and teams. The additional features are really more controls and centralized billing:
I can see the Business option being of use to larger companies that employ a lot of content creation personnel. That’s a bit outside the scope of my needs. Still, it has a place.
Grammarly isn’t the only kid on the block. Let’s see what other options are available that you might want to consider instead…
This one is probably the best alternative to Grammarly currently available. Just like Grammarly it will check spelling, punctuation, grammar and help you to strengthen your writing. Some of the things it checks for are sentence structure, overuse of words, repeated phrases, cliches and sentence length.
On the downside, it’s a bit more convoluted to use. Grammarly prides itself on ease of use. Some of that simplicity is lost in ProWritingAid. Another drawback is that it only offers a plugin for Chrome. Grammarly offers way more integration.
The biggest draw to this tool is the price. Compared to Grammarly, it’s super-cheap. The annual fee is $60 for Premium and $70 for Premium+. Grammarly comes in at double that.
Probably the biggest plus for Ginger is its built-in translator. Where Grammarly focuses on the various version of English that are out there, Ginger gives you a tool that can translate your work to 60 different languages. If you’re going multi-lingual, this can be a big plus.
Just like ProWritingAid, integration is lacking (i.e. no Mac app or word integration) and the interface isn’t as polished as Grammarly. Grammar errors aren’t displayed immediately and you have to hover over them to see what’s wrong.
Again, the price is better, coming in at $90 annually. That does make it an enticing option.
Like Grammarly, it offers a lot of integration options (Mac and Windows desktop apps, browser plugins and so on). It’s great for composing professional documents and includes a lot of templates that you can use.
Sadly, the feature set isn’t as advanced as Grammarly or the other options listed here and it’s a bit sluggish and clunky to use.
The price is right at $80 per year, so that’s one thing to consider.
These are not the only options but they are the ones with a similar feature set to compare against. Still, Grammarly has over 10 million subscribers, so it comes out on top as far as popularity goes. With that many people using it, they’ve got to be doing something right.
As you can see, Grammarly has a lot to offer anyone who writes for a living, and even those who don’t but have a need to compose something from time-to-time. The real question is, which version of Grammarly is right for you? I say, start with a free account and check it out. If you like it, consider going Premium.
On the other hand, you can always check out the competition. Just keep in mind, Grammarly is the current king and has a huge user base. There’s a reason so many people continue to use it today.
Do you currently use Grammarly? Have you used it in the past but now use a different tool? Would you be willing to share your experiences, both good and bad? Did I miss something you think should be included here? Please let me know by commenting below.