As writers, we all have our weaknesses. Come on, we’re all writers here, you can be honest…
I was shocked to discover that after successfully graduating school with consistently good results in English, at university level, my English tutor kept picking me up on grammar issues. I finished that semester and promptly changed from Arts to a Business major (not the only reason!)
I blame the school system. By the time we hit the 80’s and 90’s in Australia, grammar had taken something of a backseat in our English lessons. I was a keen reader, a strong essay writer and an annoyingly self-satisfied speller. But grammar? My husband constantly shakes his head at my lack of proper grammar knowledge despite my ability to write for a living.
Editors, copy-editors and proofreaders – do I really need them all?
There’s nothing for it. If you want to be a successful author, editing is essential to your success. The only problem is that editors are usually on the pricey side. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them (please, pretty please, promise me you will! Too many self-published authors don’t, but that’s another rant, sorry, post!)
The good news is with the advent of online editing tools for writers, you can now have a grammar guru on your computer to help you pick up on errors before you get to the costly human editing stage.
If you write frequently for work, as I do, Grammarly can take on the role of proofreader, ensuring your writing is free from errors before it goes to clients or colleagues.
Grammarly has made a name for themselves in online proofreading and grammar checking and is currently one of the most recognised and respected options for writers of all backgrounds. They also have a fantastic FB page and something of a cult following at 700k+ likes (as a marketer I’m sending you my social media respect, great job!)
It’s not just spin though. Below a summary of what you can expect with a Grammarly Premium account.
Basically, the interface comes two ways: in ‘the cloud’ as an online page where you log on and then paste your work into, or as an add-on you can download and install into Word.
Both options are easy to use and provide concise reports on your text, but my preference is probably for the Word add-on. Given I’m usually working on extended passages of text in my fiction writing, I can do the editing in the program without having to worry about cutting and pasting.
That being said, I’ve found the online tool is great for quickly checking blog posts and other shorter pieces.
What Grammarly checks and how it works
In terms of grammar, Grammarly is very thorough. It gives you the option upfront of selecting the style of writing you are about to check, for example, business or creative, which assists with the accuracy. Below is a quick list of the main areas Grammarly will check:
- Verb form
- Faulty comparison
- Faulty parallelism
- Other grammar
- Pronoun use
- Adverb adjectives
- Confusing modifiers
- Subject verb agreement
Grammarly also checks for plagiarism (attention all university students!), which can be very handy indeed.
In the online version, there’s a neat ‘dashboard’ page, which keeps track of the documents you’ve checked to date, your average score and trend (a good or bad thing depending on how grammatically savvy you are! Still, it does provide a useful measure of how you’re tracking).
It also personalises your own ‘Personal Writing Handbook’ of appropriate grammar rules that apply to you based on your edits to date.
Technology v the humans!
As I said earlier, Grammarly should not replace a qualified (human) editor. This applies to any online grammar tools currently on the market. It will proof your work to the best of its ability, but if you’re expecting it to replace the need for a human then you will be disappointed.
Then why use it? You’ll start to see what your grammar issues are and then you can avoid them in future work. Your writing will also be more polished for a human editor (and hopefully save you some money and time there).
If you’re writing for business, it’s less likely you’d require an editor/copy-editor. Could Grammarly replace human feedback? Probably not, but it will help with the quality of your work and make you look good come feedback time.
Heavy on the grammar
Here’s a few things I discovered in my quest for perfect grammar with Grammarly:
The explanations. At times, I found them to be lengthy and not all that easy to understand. I know it’s a grammar program, but sometimes the ‘grammar speak’ got to me, and I had to read the explanation and then my text a few times to be sure of the suggested change.
The corrections. I didn’t always agree with them. I’d suggest this occurs more frequently for authors of fiction because it’s difficult for a computer program to pick up on the nuances of our writing style and we use a lot of dialogue.
American English. Nothing personal! But I’m Aussie and we use UK English so it would pick up on words that were spelt correctly. Fortunately you can add words to your Grammarly dictionary as you go.
How much would you expect to pay?
The cost? Grammarly currently offers a variety of ways to pay, from monthly, quarterly to yearly. The monthly or quarterly subscriptions could be useful if you know you have a period of time coming up where you are going to be editing heavily. For frequent users, or those that just want the security of knowing they have a ‘proofreader’ on hand anytime, you can also purchase yearly subscriptions for around $100.
Try it and make your own mind up! (they currently have a freee 7 day trial available). Some writers might find incorporating Grammarly into their writing process invaluable, or if you are a grammar extraordinaire you may not see the benefit.
I should also note that Grammarly is not the only option on the market. I’m writing this post because the folks at Grammarly were kind enough to offer me a free premium account to preview and five accounts to giveaway.
On that note, get commenting, so I can giveaway!
The first five people to comment on this post and tell us ‘why you need help with your grammar,’ will receive a free 3-month premium Grammarly account!