The writers’ toolbox: Grammarly giveaway!

Grammarly bannerThe 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!

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 – don’t let the errorists winDon't let the errorist win

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:

  • Punctuation
  • Verb form
  • Faulty comparison
  • Faulty parallelism
  • Other grammar
  • Pronoun use
  • Adverb adjectives
  • Confusing modifiers
  • Negatives
  • 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.

The verdict?

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!

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8 thoughts on “The writers’ toolbox: Grammarly giveaway!

  1. Huw Thomas says:

    Interesting concept! I must admit that I’ve not heard of Grammarly before – and I totally agree with your comment that an online programme can never replace a real editor (or understanding of your language) but it sounds like a valuable resource.
    Like you, I blame the school system. I went to an English comprehensive in the 1970s and the only grammar taught was the difference between verb, noun and adjective. (I’m not sure we were even taught about adverbs.)
    Despite that, I went on to work as a newspaper journalist and then into PR/communications. Coupled with writing fiction in my spare time that means I’ve always had a lot of dealings with words!
    In 2007, I quit my career and retrained to teach English as a foreign language. Before I was let onto the course, though, I was told that although my English was good, I didn’t understand any of the rules and was sent away to study some fairly heavy grammar books.
    Before this I’d never even heard of perfect tenses, relative clauses, dependent prepositions and all the rest of that esoteric grammar stuff.
    I wouldn’t say I’m now a better storyteller but at least I understand how my language works. And which rules I can break and which ones I shouldn’t.

  2. belindawilliamsbooks says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Huw. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who missed out on the grammar lessons during my schooling. I’ll pass on your email for a free 3-month premium Grammarly account and you can test your new-found grammar skills!

  3. Michael says:

    Regardless of whether the contest is still running or not, I still want to share my thoughts on grammar.

    I live in a country (Philippines) where English is not our primary language. Regardless, I cannot recall a time when I had any difficulty comprehending English. (It must be my private school education, but I’m not sure.)
    Even though I was being labeled as good in English back then, it didn’t occur to me that I would love writing — not until this year. My love for writing happened in an unexpected way.

    At first I was purely interested in blogging. I was thinking that I already have adequate writing skills, and before, there are times when I would read a blog post and would say to myself: “I can do this too. It’s easy.” But I was in for a surprise. During my first week in blogging, I struggled a bit. I realized it was a lot harder compared to the kind of writing I do at work.

    That’s because at work I can relax my grammar (which I didn’t care about much before). Blogging online is different since people can criticize you on bad grammar. I’ve seen good blogs criticized on the comment section only because the writer made a minor grammatical error. Seeing that, I wanted to avoid those experiences as much as possible; though, I admit I still make mistakes every now and then.

    On the subject of grammar correction software like Grammarly, I’ve used some tools online, but in my experience they don’t detect every grammar or punctuation error. Sometimes what’s considered correct grammar is marked as wrong by some of the tools I’ve used. Though, I can’t speak for Grammarly since I haven’t used it yet.

    • belindawilliamsbooks says:

      Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Like you, I’ve always had a natural comprehension of English, but as you say, when you actually sit down to write something seriously, it can be surprising what’s involved! And yes, you can’t rely solely on the grammar tools, but I have found they are definitely a useful tool to keep in my writing toolbox and they’ve taught me new things as well. Not sure if Grammarly are still doing the giveaway, as it’s been a little while, but I’ll contact them and see. All the best, Belinda.

  4. Michael says:

    Passive voice! Passive voice Passive voice! This something I tackle in my writing a lot, and one thing amongst a host of other which I know Grammarly will help with. I have used grammarly in the past and it certainly helped my writing and passive voice. Hope I get this giveaway!!!

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