by Jackie Mohan
Writers are expected to have perfect grammar, especially when submitting to journals, but being a writer doesn’t mean that the grammar police gene is automatically inserted into your DNA. Even if you do have a knack for grammar, living in the era of autocorrect can dumb you down pretty fast. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in Word or Google Docs and hit the spacebar twice expecting a period to appear or typed a mishmash of letters, only to realize autocorrect is not there to mind-read my nonsense.
Enter Grammarly. If you’re like me, a few weeks ago your Facebook was bombarded with ads for an app called Grammarly. As a teacher of freshmen who struggle to differentiate there, their, and they’re, I recommended this app to them. God knows if they downloaded it, but feeling that I couldn’t recommend something to my students without trying it myself, I downloaded it myself. Here are Grammarly’s main features:
- Identifying Typos & Grammar Mistakes not in Word: You know the red and green squiggles in Word? Grammarly does essentially the same thing everywhere (except Google Drive, as far as I can tell). If not in Word, such as if you’re writing an email, when you see a red or green line, you hover your mouse over it and a box pops up that tells you what Grammarly detected wrong and a suggested fix. As you can see in the screenshot below, it doesn’t catch all errors, but it does catch most.
Rating: 4/5 stars.
- Grammarly in Word: Once installed, it adds a Grammarly tab to Word. In the tab, you can turn on what you want Grammarly to look for: Contextual Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, and Style. Suggestions pop up in a sidebar. Word’s squiggles and Grammarly’s underlines sometimes overlap and sometimes don’t, so it’s nice to have a second pair of eyes, so to speak, on your writing.
Rating: 5/5 stars.
- Grammarly Editor: This is in Grammarly’s app/website page. Here, you can upload a document and have Grammarly essentially do the same thing it does in Word: offer suggestions in a sidebar. The only thing you can upload is Word documents, which seems redundant given that you can install Grammarly directly into Word for free.
Rating: 3/5 stars.
- Weekly Progress Reports: This is my favorite feature. The weekly email offers three personal statistics: Activity, Mastery, and Vocabulary. Activity monitors how many words you wrote, Mastery measures your overall accuracy, and Vocabulary somehow counts how many “unique words” you used. Each statistic compares you to other Grammarly users. The email also reports your top grammar mistakes. For example, I struggle constantly with squinting modifiers (and found out there was such a thing).
Rating: 5/5 stars.
Overall, would I recommend Grammarly? Sure, especially if you don’t have the grammar gene or if you want those weekly updates, which are simultaneously good for the ego (I have a better vocabulary than 78% of Grammarly users? That English degree paid off) and identify your problem areas. Did Grammarly catch all errors? Definitely not, as you can see in my email above, but it did catch several in my Word document that Word and I didn’t catch. Bottom line: why not download Grammarly? It’s free, it’s easy, and, if you’re one of my students, it might finally help you learn to differentiate between their, they’re, and there.