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Grammarly Review 2021: Should You Use Grammarly or Not?

There’s a thin line between sloppy unprofessional writing work and thoroughly checked mistake-free work.

That line, ladies and gentlemen, is called Grammarly.

For any professional writer, Grammarly isn’t something new. Millions of writers rely on Grammarly to check their spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but it’s more than that.

So what does it really do?

In a nutshell, Grammarly is a non-human proofreader and editor for all kinds of texts—it analyzes text and checks it for errors, explains the errors, then offers solutions. Apart from error checking, it offers suggestions for enhancing the text.

But then again, it does more than that!

See, Grammarly has free and premium versions. The basic package (the free version) has the features that I just mentioned (grammar, punctuation, and spelling). Grammarly also has the more deluxe premium version packed with more editing features—a hundred grammar and spelling checks and a truckload of extra features.

grammarly review

Grammarly Pros

  1. It Has the Best Algorithms of Any Online Grammar Checker
grammarly digital writing assistant

I haven’t tried a lot of Grammarly alternatives, but I’m pretty sure that the AI and the algorithms used to create Grammarly learns faster than the others. 

Grammarly’s machine learning developers are bang good!

When you ignore suggestions that seem irrelevant to you, Grammarly learns your preferences and personalizes the suggestions and corrections.

2. Faster Than Other Online Grammar Checkers

One of the focus areas for ‘grammar-checker’ developers is quick response when the tool is analyzing the text in real-time, and most, if not all, online grammar checkers do real-time grammar checks and corrections.

However, compared to the other online grammar checkers, Grammarly is quite fast.

3. Very Easy to Use

Whether using the web editor, a word processor, or the desktop app, Grammarly interfaces are designed to be easy to use.

Using Grammarly on all supported platforms is super easy, all you do is install the app or download the add-ins from Grammarly and you’re set.

4. Offers Crystal clear and Educative Explanations 

After flagging something in your text, Grammarly takes a step further in explaining why that part of the passage or a specific word has been deemed wrong/incorrect. 

Once you understand the error, you can learn and improve in that area. Or, if you think the tool got it wrong, you can ignore the suggestion and the program will learn your preferences.

5. Versatility

grammarly works everywhere

The Grammarly tool Seamlessly integrates with Word processors and web browsers, has a mobile phone app, and a desktop app.

Other grammar checkers either don’t have the desktop app or the mobile app. Some are literally web editors and don’t have any word add-ins and web browser extensions. 

6. It’s Customizable

Grammarly lets you tweak a few things to suit your needs and write custom reports and general documents.

Among the tweaks are the language preferences.  You can set your language to American English, Australian English, Canadian English, and British English (Well… English English).

You can also add non-existent words to your Grammarly personal dictionary so that they won’t be marked as “misspellings” next time. 

As I said, Grammarly’s AI brain learns fast and has been designed to take in your preferences in order to give you personalized feedback. Here’s a list of settings you can adjust to suit your writing goals:

  • Intent (inform, describe, convince, tell a story)
  • Audience (general or expert)
  • Style (formal or informal)
  • Emotion (mild or strong)
  • Domain (academic, business, or technical).

Grammarly Cons

1. It’s Relatively Pricey

Compared to its competitors, Grammarly is a bit high-priced. For some people, the premium plans may have a price that is too high for just checking grammar and spellings. 

But, it is way better than the competition, so the cost seems merited. Plus, it has a free version, which by the way, is the source of the next con.

2. Grammarly Free Has Limited Features 

Although the free version of Grammarly is miles ahead of word processors in terms of spelling and grammar corrections, it lags a million miles behind the premium version.

The features on the free version don’t go beyond spelling and grammar checking.  All other useful features, including the plagiarism checker, tone detector, and genre-specific writing style checker, all come with the premium version.


Free Grammarly vs Grammarly Premium 

Who doesn’t love free things? Well I love free things. 

But most times, companies have aggressive marketing schemes that make paid versions way better than the free versions. 

They make the free version seem like a drop of dew on the outside of a cold juice bottle and then go ahead to make the paid version seem like 2 gallons of that juice.

To illustrate this, I have made a comparison of the two plans.


FREEPREMIUM
Grammar and Punctuation✔️✔️
Spell Check✔️✔️
Word & Outlook Plugin✔️✔️
Desktop App✔️✔️
Performance Stats via Email✔️✔️
Checks punctuations grammar, context, and sentence structure✔️
Plagiarism checker  ✔️
Vocabulary enhancement✔️
Genre-Specific Writing Style Checks✔️

Is Grammarly Free Good Enough?

It is. For a free service, it is excellent.

But, it is not sufficient. 

Of course, it has great features. You can use web browser extensions, plugin for Microsoft word and outlook, a web-based personal editor, or a desktop app. Among other checks, it offers definitions and synonym suggestions and sends performance analytics to your email. 

Great!

But as I said, it’s not sufficient. The developers intentionally starved the algorithm of the free version of some extra grammar and spell check rules so that it misses some issues. If you have a premium account, try checking the same document with both versions, you will see that the free version will detect fewer issues than the Grammarly premium.

grammarly premium version

Plus, Grammarly free doesn’t have extra features like the plagiarism detector and vocabulary enhancement suggestions. 

Is Grammarly Premium Worth It?

Without any hesitation, YES!

If you are serious about excellent, error-free, typo-proof, and unique work, then close your eyes and authorize that payment. 

The premium package is pricey but worth every penny expended. The free version is okay, way better than your MS Word or any other basic word processor. It points out more spelling and grammar errors than the basic processors and other online editors.

But, and this is a big ‘BUT’, free things are free things. It’s like government cheese; it was great but… hmm.

Usually, expensive things are better, and it’s true in this case too. 

Grammarly premium identifies more issues with your text than the free version and has lots of convenient features. I’m talking about more than 100 spelling and grammar checks, vocabulary enhancement suggestions, writing style checks tailored for different genres, and a plagiarism detector that scours billions and billions of websites for similar text.

The premium tool is a professional editor’s AI-powered writing coach. Grammarly premium is unnecessary if you’re okay with substandard, sloppy work.

Getting Started

Unlike its competition, Grammarly lets you use its features on many platforms (Web, word add-ins, and desktop & smartphone keyboards). When you access their website for the first time, it instantly categorizes you as a free user.

If you are sold on Grammarly, you can update to Grammarly Premium. For teams, Grammarly has a plan called Grammarly Business.  

The different ways to use Grammarly

Imagine copying a whole 200k novel and pasting it on the web just to do grammar and spelling checks. 

How inconvenient.

Yes, Grammarly is an online tool, but you don’t have to go to grammarly.com every time you want to proofread something.

There are several ways you can use Grammarly, making self-editing an easy, come-at-able task.

1. The Grammarly web tool 

This way utilizes the website. To check text this way, you go to the dashboard and click on ‘New’. Paste your text onto the blank page and wait a few moments for Grammarly to analyze it and bring the issues to your attention.

You can also type on the Grammarly website and it will analyze the text immediately.

Or, in lieu of the two previous ways, you can just upload the full document and Grammarly will analyze it the same way.

2.  Browser extension

grammarly chrome extension

The most convenient way to use Grammarly for bloggers and other online writers is through a web browser extension.

When you go to the Grammarly site, there’s an option for adding the extension to the web browser. After adding the extension to your browser, Grammarly reflexively checks the text that you input on supported sites, including Slack, Gmail, Yahoo, Google Docs, Jira, and many others. 

At the time of publishing, Grammarly supported: 

  • Chrome, version 51 and newer.
  • Safari, version 12 and newer.
  • Firefox, version 54 and newer. 
  • Microsoft Edge, version 14 and newer.

3. Desktop app

grammarly for windows

Grammarly supports MacOS ( versions10.10+)and Windows (7+) systems. You can download and install the Grammarly desktop app on both systems. 

It is a stylish and highly functional app that has a handy side panel and a couple of minimalist icons, making it easy to get started and use. 

It’s the same arrangement as the web platform; you can paste some text, type, and the app will analyze the text as you go, or import an existing document.  

The desktop app has some of the formatting tools that regular word processors like word and google docs have. It has bold text, italics, underlining, headings, inserting links, and making numberings and bullets.

You could use the app for all your writing, but as a button-down writer, I don’t think writing huge texts using the Grammarly app would feel legit. I would rather stick to the MS Word and Google Docs add-in option—which, by the bye, is next.

4. Microsoft Word and Google Docs

For Google docs, the extra add-ons only come with the chrome extension. The extensions for other browsers are less sophisticated (they only have inline edits).

The Grammarly extension for Google chrome improves your Google docs by adding a dedicated sidebar. It also adds clarity, engagement, delivery prompts, and comments.

Grammarly also has an Add-in for MS Word and Outlook.

grammarly for microsoft word and outlook

This is how old-hats like myself use Grammarly. It doesn’t work offline like the inbuilt MS office spelling and grammar checker, so you have to be plugged into the internet to use Grammarly’s real-time editing.

5. Phone Keyboard

grammarly keyboard

Grammarly has a specialized smartphone keyboard for both Android and iOS phones.

Once downloaded, the app automatically gets added to the text input options.

Once you choose it to be the default keyboard, it will provide checks for the grammar and punctuation issues, contextual misspellings and offer smart predictions that help fasten typing.

The app is available on the Play Store or the App Store.

Is Grammarly safe and legit?

Traffic between you and Grammarly is encrypted using industry-standard encryption. It’s very unlikely that the content you upload on Grammarly is going to be plagiarized.

However, cybercriminals are so advanced nowadays and can intercept traffic between you and most websites. I’m convinced that Grammarly have done their part. They have built a secure, highly encrypted system. 

Moreover, Grammarly is both GDPR and CCPA compliant.

How much does Grammarly cost?

One of the things that I like about Grammarly is that it has a free version. The fact that one can use Grammarly without spending a single cent is A-one.

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation improvements at a zero cost. Nada!

Moreover, the free version has no trial period and no time limits. And it’s bang good, as far as free things go.

But, and that’s big a ‘but’ as they come (I always say this when I’m dead serious), you will need to upgrade to Grammarly Premium to enjoy Grammarly’s most excellent features.

Grammarly Premium pricing plans are laid out as follows:

Individual Premium Subscriptions 

  • One-time monthly subscription costs $29.95 USD/month
  • The quarterly subscription costs $19.98/month ($59.95 in total)
  • The annual subscription costs $11.66/month (total payment of $139.95)

Grammarly Business

grammarly business

In addition to the individual subscriptions, Grammarly offers subscriptions for professional teams with members from 3 up to 149.  

Grammarly Business packages are:

  • 3 to 9 members — $12.50/member/month
  • 10 to 49 members $12.08/member/month
  • 50 to 149 members $11.67/member/month

Although these are pretty much fixed rates, Grammarly offers discounts now and then, so you might find lower rates than those stated here. 

Grammarly also has a tool—[email protected]—for universities and schools

grammarly@edu

Man vs AI: How Grammarly compares to a human editor

Is Grammarly better than a human editor? 

Yes, and No.

Let’s start with the ‘Yes’ part. Getting a ‘professional editor’ to look at your text and make some adjustments has become such an easy thing nowadays.

 With social media, Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and many other job boards offering online work opportunities, everyone is trying to present themselves as a professional. You can get someone to edit your 100k-word fiction for $100.

There are lots of low-cost, low-quality editors out there.

If we pit Grammarly against an editor whose English is as bad as a Toyota Corolla on a race track, then Grammarly comes out on top, without any doubt. 

However, if we pit it against a real professional editor, then the software will be found lacking. 

There are a couple of reasons why an expert human editor is better, one of which is coherence of facts. A writer may state contradicting statements or descriptions in the same text, but if the text is well-formatted and uses good grammar and the correct vocabulary, Grammarly won’t be able to pick the anomaly. Only a set of human eyes would be capable of spotting the irregularity.

Grammarly has got to complement a human editor. A lot of editors use Grammarly Premium to fine-tune their texts.

Will Grammarly Improve My Writing?

Most certainly.

Grammarly offers somewhat of a tough-love type of proofing. No-holds-barred brand of spelling, grammar, and style checks and suggestions,

It’s like a parent that doesn’t give you any time-outs but has a belt out for you when you misbehave.

Well, I might have exaggerated things there, but you get the point.

The explanations and suggestions can go a long way in improving grammar for both native and non-native English speakers. It can also teach users one or two things about genre-specific writing styles.

However, you have to gauge what changes to make or not? Because ultimately, Grammarly will also lack some intuitiveness that a human has. Moreover, it won’t be a hundred percent right. 

Treat Grammar checkers as a digital, non-human writing mentor.

Grammarly Review

Alright, I have a lot about other things without talking about the tool itself.

Coming up, the features section!

Grammarly Features

grammarly's features

Grammarly understands that professional, efficient, and credible writing goes beyond spelling and grammar. 

That’s why it has features that ably detect the text’s tone and corrects it contextually, fix wordiness, detect the vagueness and hedging and offers solutions, and spot poor word choice, and offers appropriate unrelated words or synonyms.

According to Grammarly, the tool’s overall objectives are to help you improve your writing’s correctness, clarity, engagement, and delivery.

To achieve the four objectives, it’s built with an assortment of features that utilize very smart algorithms.

Spell and Grammar Check

To improve your text’s correctness, Grammarly offers real-time corrections and suggestions about spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It uses red underlining to alert and offer you suggestions.

A Personal Dictionary

Most of us writers tend to invent words, so what? We’ve created a parallel universe; what’s a word to a god who uses pen and paper?

Well… had Grammarly been an inflexible guardian of the literal Galaxy, it’d have seen to it that all those created words be underlined; deemed incorrect, everlastingly; and nominated them for immediate deletion each time they were typed.

Thank god, and the developers, Grammarly is flexible. It lets the user add non-English names, slang, or abbreviations. 

When you type the word for the first time, Grammarly flags it as incorrect, and the pop-up box will have suggestions of the correct spelling and all that.

But, once you click “add to dictionary”—below the suggestion(s)—it won’t mark them as incorrect spellings again.

Voila!

You are back to playing god again.

Writing Style and Readability

To make your writing more limpid and easily readable, Grammarly analyzes your texts and spots and alerts you of wordy, anaconda-long sentences. It helps you to be economical and efficient with your sentences by offering you suggestions—suggests synonyms and efficient phrases you can use instead of weak sentences and unnecessary words and phrases.

Tone Detection

Good writing also considers context—delivery should be context-specific. 

Writing an email to a client shouldn’t have the same tone as a Facebook message to your ‘BFF’. Grammarly’s algorithms are smart enough to notice these irregularities and instantly alerts you with purple lines. The notification is always accompanied with suggestions. 

Plagiarism

grammarlys plagiarism checker

This is one of the extra features that Grammarly Premium has. Grammarly scours the web for text similar to the one under analysis just to make sure that your writing is unique and original.

The plagiarism checking tool flips over 15 billion sites comparing the web content with your text.


The Best Grammarly Alternatives 

If you find Grammarly pricey and are not sold on the whole premium thing, then there are lots of alternatives that will do a similar job, probably at a lower price or totally free.  

1. ProWritingAid 

2. Ginger Software 

3. WhiteSmoke 

4. Hemingway 

5. After The Deadline 

6. Scribens

7. LanguageTool  

8. Reverso Best  

9. SpellCheckPlus 

10. Slick Write 

11. Linguix 

12.1Checker 

Out of all these alternatives, ProWritingAid comes the closest to equalling Grammarly’s efficiency, but it just falls a bit short.

prowritingaid

Be sure to check out the article that I have done on Grammarly’s alternatives.

The Verdict

Let us try weighing the pros and the cons on a writer’s beam balance. Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons.

Grammarly is affordable (rolls eyes), efficient, very easy to use, offers crystal clear and educative explanations, is versatile and customizable. And… it is faster than all the other online grammar checkers.

So, it is the decision of the court that,

Grammarly is the best online editing and proofreading tool. It is simply a MUST-HAVE for beginners and professional writers alike. 

About Jessica Majewski

Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.

She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.