Saturday, December 8, 2018

Is Grammarly worth trying and what's up with the Premium upgrade?

Today, I let's discuss Grammarly. We’ve all heard about it, or at least most of us have. For those who don’t know, Grammarly is a tool you can find online at When you sign up for free, you can add it to your browser or download the app for your handheld devices. There are other add-ons as well for your PC. I would recommend setting up your profile first and select which English language varieties to use; very happy that Canadian English made it to the list, there’s Australian English as well and of course, the two most used: UK and USA English. You can add words to your personal dictionary, so add up all your made-up fantasy words or newly coined technical terms!
At first, I wondered Is it just an alternative to Microsoft Word’s spellcheck? I don’t remember much about the Grammarly ads I’ve seen, but they left me with the impression that it was a spellchecking tool.

Well, it is, but it turns out it does more than that. So I tried Grammarly, put a random bunch of text in my free account’s "demo document" section and let it run. It checked for the same typos and minor grammar errors Word would, but what makes it different, and I think that’s a big plus for a writer, is that you can set the tone. You have five goal markers you can customize: Intent, Audience, Style, Emotion and Domain.
Intent, which is still experimental as the AI needs some training, lets you pick as many markers as you need between Inform, Describe, Convince and Tell a Story.
The Audience lets you choose between General, Knowledgeable and Expert.
Style can be either Formal or Informal, Emotion—also experimental— can be either Mild or Strong.
And lastly, Domain has a selection for Creative, Academic, Business, Technical and Casual.
And that’s just the online version. I just installed the add-on on Word and wow, there are even more options! I have a Premium account now, so I can’t tell what is not available, but I assume the options to be greyed out as Grammarly would likely want you to know what you’re missing. Here’s a screenshot:
Click to enlarge
So those tone markers help the AI find the problems in your text and address them in the form of advice or corrections tailored to your specific writing style. It will also look for passive voice, which is something budding authors need to look for. The algorithm catches them and gives me pause so I can decide whether this passive verb is justified or not.
Grammarly will also check for filler words and tell you if you keep using the same words repeatedly.
There’s even a word count function that will calculate the average time needed to read your text out loud, excellent if you need to cover a set amount of time for an important speech.

Sorry to say Word, but you’ve been served!

Then comes the paid part. I will say it right away; I hate pay per month/quarter/year deals. Plus, I’m Canadian and I pretty much always forget to double-check and end up paying more than I anticipated. When is the Canadian dollar finally going up?? [cry me a river cue]
Indeed, Grammarly is in USD.

The paid part is not cheap, at least, not if your writing isn’t earning you money. Grammarly sent me a 40% off while I was still waiting for my free month trial (I’m part of the affiliate program and also one reason why I’m writing this. The other reason is that I think it’s a neat tool.). Since the deal was only good for two days, as if they were trying to pressure me and it worked, I took it. I’m sharing the account with a friend, and there are no restrictions whatsoever saying I can’t. There’s a limit of 5 devices, but I don’t want Grammarly to start correcting my text messages. I write well enough but use nonsense words with family. I would expect Grammarly to drive me nuts.

So what does the Premium account offer? Plagiarism checker for one. If you’re afraid your teacher will find out you copy-pasted texts you found online or if you want to see how close to another’s work yours sound, it’s worth using.
Also, it will find more mistakes, such as unclear antecedents, and tidbits here and there since the free version will only look for minor problems. Premium comes with free 24h our help and support. It will also come with genre-specific checks. Or more of them. Pretty sure the free version offered a few.

But Grammarly will not always be right. Sometimes, it will offer an adverb, changing the whole meaning of the phrase, e.g. Short (size) vs Shortly (time). At this point, it’s up to you to decide what makes sense, after all, it’s still just a program that won’t replace a real live proof-reader. That said, they do offer the service, but it’s not free either and not part of the Premium services.
And for all the neat features the Word Add-on offers, you need to close Grammarly if you want to use CTRL+Z. Yep, that’s right; it’s disabled while Grammarly is on. But only on Word, although possibly affecting Outlook since it’s part of the add-on. (Whisper: I don't use Outlook, so I don't know)

Most people writing such an article will tell you to get the upgrade, of course they would, they get money to refer you to Grammarly. Personally, I’m still ambivalent. There are perks, but I don’t yet write professionally (meaning I don’t get paid), so to me, it’s a big investment for what some still consider a hobby. But if you are serious about writing, if English isn’t your first language or you can definitely put that in your budget as a professional writer, there are good perks to the Premium version. Not a ton more, but enough that it does make a difference.

Here’s my affiliate link [Right HEEEERE], it’s up to you whether you want to create an account, but if you do, they pay me $0.20 per free account. The payout is $20 for Premium sign-ups. It’s a way for me to finance my career little by little, and pay for this service. If you don’t agree with that, feel free to just go directly on the website, I’m not going to starve. But I wouldn’t say no to going outside the house once in a while!

1 comment:

  1. Grammarly Cost
    Language is an important part of expressing ourselves to the whole world. It is needed while we are speaking to someone and also when we are writing something. The language that we talk often tends to have colloquialisms, and the grammar isn't always perfect. But it does reflect into our writings. Along with that, we aren't always able to write in perfect grammar.