I was lucky enough to recently be granted access to Grammarly, to check out all its features. And boy, are there a lot of features.
But, first a little background. Grammarly is an automated proofreader, which checks for over 250 types of grammatical errors. This includes parallelism, misplaced modifiers, comma splices, subject-verb agreement, etc., and is much more comprehensive than Word’s spelling and grammar check.
The site offers a 7-day free trial, and after that you can choose between three pricing options: monthly, quarterly, and annually. If you choose the annual option of $139.95, you get a significant discount per month ($11.66 per month versus $29.95 on the monthly plan).
Now, on to the features.
I used the sample text Grammarly provided to see what the site can do. But for your own articles, books, etc., you can choose to either copy and paste your text or upload files to the proofreader.
Once you have the text, you click on “Start Review.”
Grammarly also gives you the option to choose what type of work to check. That way, it can look for different styles while proofing. Options include business, academic, technical, creative, and more.
Grammarly then works its magic, and you can see a progress bar along with the grammar points it is checking. When the scan is complete, you will see a score on the top right of the screen, along with the number of issues found. In this case, there were 18 issues found.
You can see a summary of all the issues and suggestions if you’d like.
Below the number of issues is a scrolling list of the specific errors. If you click on one of the errors, it will highlight the specific part of the text where it was found, and provide you with explanations for why it is an issue.
You can choose to read the long or the short explanation, depending on your preference.
And on the list on the right hand side, there is a short explanation for how these particular mistakes are made. This makes Grammarly a great learning tool, which hopefully helps writers make fewer mistakes in the future.
After going through all the potential errors, you can choose to either make edits or ignore the suggestions. Once you have updated your file, you can download the edited document, saving you time from having to go back through it later.
Grammarly also has the ability to know how words are used in context, and does an impressive job of suggesting synonyms if certain words are used too frequently.
You also have the option of checking for plagiarism, which can be helpful for academic papers. Grammarly claims to check a database of over 8 million web pages for plagiarism. Any citation issues it finds will be highlighted, and Grammarly will include the original source as well as suggestions for how to cite it properly.
If you still have questions about why a word, phrase, or sentence was flagged, you can post a question in Grammarly’s public forum, called Grammarly Answers. Anyone can access the forum and search for questions and answers, but if you are logged in you can earn awards and find recognized leaders (those who have answered the most questions, helpfully) and their answers.
If you’re looking for some more general answers, there is also the Grammarly Handbook. The handbook is a list of links with helpful information to the most commonly asked questions and basic grammar information. It’s also open to the public.
Lastly, if you have a paid account, Grammarly gives you a fun, handy dashboard. It breaks down the number of issues found per category, and gives you your average score by year, month, and day, based on the number of documents checked.
Overall, I was really impressed with this automated checker. I don’t think it could fully replace a real live editor, especially a developmental editor for books, but I do think it could be a helpful tool to use to either polish an edited book, or for other types of publications, such as business papers, academic papers, and even social media and blog posts.