Advertisement

Grammarly Review 2016 – Does it do all it claims to do?

It’s a well-established fact that proofreading your writing can be a very painful task. Yes, some writers smirk at the very mention of proofreading—they never proofread their work because their work is the product of the moment. But people who write for a living—as well as anyone who has to write important emails or assignments—can tell you that proofreading your work before you turn it in or press send is essential.

With proofreading, every little bit of help is welcome. The autocorrect and spell-check tools most word processors have are great, but they only amount to a single line of defense. Specialized proofreading software can sometimes be helpful, but there are many products out there that claim one thing and deliver another. You also have to pay for most of them, even though they won’t remove the need for you to check your writing. But that could be OK if they provide substantial help. And that leads us to Grammarly.

On paper, it sounds great. Grammarly is advertised as the world’s most accurate grammar checker. It can fix 250 types of errors, and it provides plenty of other features that will help users improve their grammar and vocabulary. A lot of its features are free. It’s available as a browser extension, a Microsoft Office add-in, a desktop app you can install on your computer, or a web page you can visit. But all of that means nothing unless the product works well in practice, and we want to see just how well Grammarly performs. So we’ll take it for a spin and see what we can find out.

How We’ll Test It

The full set of features offered by Grammarly includes a contextual spelling checker, a grammar checker, a punctuation checker, a sentence structure checker, an option to adjust the checks for genre-specific writing styles, a plagiarism checker, and a vocabulary enhancement tool. Grammarly also allows users to choose whether they’ll be using British English or American English, and it has an integrated dictionary and thesaurus.

For this test, we’ll be using a Grammarly Premium account, set to American English. We’ll devise a series of sentences that will test each of Grammarly’s features for some common (and a couple of less common) mistakes. The idea of the test is not to discover the limits of Grammarly and which types of errors are not included in the 250 Grammarly supposedly checks for. The idea is to determine the app’s value by testing it on sentences containing realistic mistakes that people often make.

To determine how well the plagiarism checker performs, we’ll take a couple of sentences from an article published on a lesser-known website and run them through the checker. We’ll then gradually change the sentences to see how well the plagiarism checker deals with rewording.

To test Grammarly’s effectiveness on different styles of writing, we’ll find an example from one of the seven major writing genres Grammarly recognizes. We’ll see how Grammarly does with the checks adjusted for that genre, and then we’ll try it with the checks adjusted for a couple of other genres to determine what the differences are.

We’ll end with an examination of how well the British English vs. American English setting works.

Contextual Spelling Test

The contextual spelling tool checks for misspelled words and correctly spelled words used in the wrong context. We’ll start with a sentence containing a few spelling mistakes that should be relatively easy to catch:

  • Our grand-mother was the definative sourse on there family’s historie.

This sentence contains five spelling errors—an unnecessary hyphenation of the word “grandmother,” misspellings of “definitive,” “source,” and “history,” and the word “there” instead of “their.”

Grammarly flagged “grand-mother” as a possibly confused word and suggested “grandmother”; it suggested the correct spellings of “definative” and “sourse,” and it suggested changing “there” to “their.” As for “historie,” Grammarly flagged it as a possibly confused word and suggested we use “historic” instead. When we changed the word to “historic,” Grammarly didn’t flag it, which is why, in this part of the test, it got four out of five correct.

Let’s give it another go:

  • She told tale’s about her Uncle Jim, with many colourful details—she remembered witch hankerchief he had on him when he met the famous playwrite.

In this sentence, there are five mistakes—“tales” has an extraneous apostrophe, “colorful” is spelled the British way, “witch” should be “which,” and “handkerchief” and “playwright” are both misspelled.

Grammarly didn’t flag “tale’s.” It did flag “colourful” as a British English spelling and suggested the American spelling. It caught “witch” as a possibly confused word and suggested we use “which” instead, and it flagged both “hankerchief” and “playwrite” and suggested the correct spellings. In this part of the test, Grammarly got four out of five correct.  

At the end of the contextual spelling test, Grammarly caught eight out of ten mistakes.

Grammar and Punctuation

Grammarly’s grammar and punctuation checkers catch common grammatical errors and redundant, missing, and misused punctuation. We’ll test them simultaneously.

  • Grandma remembered her teachers, Paula and Trevor, she could told you how their voices sounded when they was happy?

This sentence contains a comma splice (. . . Trevor, she . . .), uses the wrong tense of the verb “tell,” and contains an instance of subject-verb disagreement with (they was). The question mark at the end of the sentence is wrong, too.

Grammarly flagged the comma splice and offered a list of possible solutions: replacing the comma with a semicolon, adding “and” after the comma, or replacing it with a period and capitalizing the “s” in “she.” Grammarly also caught the mistake with “told,” and suggested changing it to “tell” or “be told.” The app also flagged the subject-verb disagreement, and it suggested the proper correction. As for the misused question mark at the end of the sentence, Grammarly didn’t flag it.

But it did flag the word “Paula” and suggest a comma after it because it’s a part of a series of three or more words. This suggestion would have been correct if we were indeed dealing with a list. However, grandma remembers Paula and Trevor, who were her teachers. She’s not remembering her teachers plus Paula and Trevor. All in all, Grammarly caught three out of four. As for the serial comma issue, it was a false positive, but it erred on the side of caution. We checked whether it would flag a real serial comma issue:

  • Trevor never showed up to class without his bowtie, his hat and his umbrella.

And it did. One out of one.

  • My brother, and me would of listened for hours at time.

In this sentence, there’s an unnecessary comma, “me” was used instead of “I,” “would of” was used instead of “would’ve,” and there’s an article missing before “time.”

Grammarly flagged the unnecessary comma after “brother.” It suggested “I” instead of “me,” and flagged “would of” with a comment that this phrase, as well as similar phrases like “could of,” are never correct. It also flagged the missing article before time, suggesting that we add “a” or “the.” In this case, Grammarly caught four out of four. In total, Grammarly flagged eight out of nine errors and gave one false positive.

Sentence Structure, Style, Vocabulary Enhancement

The sentence structure checker finds misplaced words, incorrect sentence structure, and incorrect word order. The style checker is a bit more subjective—it flags wordiness and redundancies, but it’s also supposed to enhance your writing style, without stating exactly how. The vocabulary enhancement tool offers synonyms and suggestions about word use.


Advertisement

  • Having sat in the chair, the storytelling would begin.

This sentence contains a dangling modifier—“having sat in the chair” doesn’t refer to “the storytelling.” Grammarly caught the mistake and urged us to rewrite the sentence to avoid it. One out of one.

  • My brother and I inherited her own talent for telling stories, but we display it in various different ways: I became a fiction writer because I wanted to create my stories, and my brother became a decent documentary filmmaker because he was interested in other people’s stories; stories were the greatest gift we got from our grandma, and we will always remember where we got it from.

Four things are wrong with this sentence. It was written to be very long, there’s an unnecessary “own” near the beginning, “various different” is a redundancy, and the sentence ends with a preposition. While the unnecessary word and the redundancy are clearly mistakes, it’s not necessarily a problem for sentences to be very long, and they can end with prepositions.

Grammarly flagged the whole sentence for wordiness and suggested we break it into smaller ones. It caught the two obvious mistakes, suggesting we delete “own” and “different.” It didn’t find the preposition at the end of the sentence. Because the 68-word sentence might need some chopping, and because sentences can sometimes end with prepositions, this is four out of four.

  • Paul’s grades were better.

Grammarly flagged the incomplete comparison in this sentence. One out of one.

  • Was a long summer.

This sentence is missing a subject, and Grammarly flagged it correctly. One out of one. So far, we haven’t seen any vocabulary enhancement suggestions, but for sentence structure and style, Grammarly got seven out of seven.

Plagiarism Checker

We used this paragraph to test Grammarly’s plagiarism checker:

  • Offering someone a drink is a sign of trust and friendship and it is a faux pas to turn down the proposal. You’d not want to offend a local by declining their offer of a drink and have to deal with a confrontation as your glass is hurled at the glass splashbacks of a bar! Vodka is always drunk neat and without ice, as adding anything is seen as compromising the purity of the drink. Unless of course the vodka is mixed with beer, which creates a hefty blend that Russians call ‘yorsh’.

The paragraph was taken from the website blog.joytours.com, and Grammarly correctly identified the source and flagged it as 100 percent unoriginal. It also offered a suggestion for a vocabulary enhancement, saying that “blend” might be pair better with “strong” instead of “hefty.”

By changing only a couple of words in the original material, we managed to get a 100 percent original rating:

  • Offering someone a drink is a good sign of trust and friendship and it is a faux pas to turn down the proposal. You’d not want to offend a native by declining their offer of a drink and have to deal with an argument as your glass is hurled at the glass splashbacks of a bar! The national drink is always drunk neat and with no ice, as adding anything is seen as compromising the integrity of the drink. Unless of course the drink is mixed with lager, which creates a strong blend that Russians call ‘yorsh’.

We also got two more vocabulary enhancement warnings—Grammarly told us that we repeated the word “drink” too many times, and that “strong” is an overused term we might want to replace. Both times, Grammarly gave suggestions for substitutes.

Genre-Specific Writing Checker

So far, we’ve checked everything using the default “general” setting Grammarly offers. To see if changing this setting makes any difference, we’ll use part of a research proposal, run it through a couple of genre-specific checks, and see what we get.

  • Limitations of the current research will be identified, along with suggestions for how future research can build upon the findings of the current study. One limitation to the generalizability of the findings is the use of only one photograph of one infant of a particular age. Future research could utilize photographs of infants of a variety of ages to establish the robustness of the results of the present study. Finally, the results and importance of this study will be summarized.

Grammarly instantly flagged the paragraph as plagiarism (it came from a PDF file downloaded from a source on the web). Under the “general” setting, Grammarly identified the words “current,” “photographs,” and “infants” as overused terms and offered synonyms to replace them. When we set the writing style as “research proposal,” “infants”  disappeared from the flagged list. Selecting “business letter” brought “infants” back. Changing the style to “end-user assistance” removed “infants” again but also brought a style tip—technical writing is almost exclusively written in the present tense, and the paragraph contains two uses of the future tense. Other document types we tried produced similar results.

British English vs. American English Test

For this test, we’ll create a series of sentences that contain distinctly British spelling and grammatical structures.

  • The flock were flying. John had a nap. I will go there at the weekend. This sentence is different to the last one. I liked the flavour and colour of it. Let’s see what we learnt yesterday. Mr Peters told me so.

In the first sentence, the verb “were” is used with the collective noun “flock,” as it is in British English. In the second sentence, we used “have” instead of the usual American “take.” In the third sentence, the preposition “at” was used instead of “on,” and in the fourth “to” was used instead of “from.” “Flavour” and “colour” are British spellings, and the past tense “learnt” was used instead of “learned.” In the last sentence, the title “Mr” was written without a period after it.

Out of the eight Briticisms present in these sentences, Grammarly flagged five—the plural verb with collective nouns, the “-our” spellings of “flavor” and “color,” “learnt” instead of “learned,” and the missing period after a title. That’s five out of eight.

Just for the fun of it, we ran the same text through a complete check but with Grammarly set to British English, and no flags were raised. Let’s see how Grammarly works the other way around.

  • I have gotten in before. We learned advanced math in college. Do me a favor and take a bath. You broke your nose—does it hurt? We were well organized. He had a dialog.

In the first sentence, the past participle “gotten” was used instead of “got.” In the second, “math” was used instead of “maths”, the preposition “in” was used instead of “at,” and “college” was used instead of “university.” “Favor” was spelled the American way in the third, and “take” was used instead of “have.” The fourth sentence contains the simple past tense instead of the present perfect, which would be correct in British English. In the last two sentences, the words “organized” and “dialog” are spelled in the American English way.

Grammarly flagged only the American spellings of “favor,” “organized,” and “dialog” and failed to notice the rest of the issues. That’s three out of nine, and it brings us to a total of eight out of seventeen.

Discussion

In the tests that were quantifiable, Grammarly was asked to check for forty-three mistakes, and it managed to find thirty-one of them. That’s 72 percent. But the numbers only tell part of the story.

Advertisement

Check Your Text

Comments

  1. Hey do you guys know any other websites or quality software
    that actually check grammar, spelling and word usage etc.

    • Nick Wright says:

      Try StyleWriter for spelling, word usage and copy-editing.
      Nick

      • Phil_Daniels says:

        @Nick Wright – If you are who I think you are, then IMO you should have declared your vested interest in StyleWriter Ψ²

        • what difference does it make? good software is good software. operating on the assumption of bias is ridiculous. you can have an interest on something and know it’s the best/not

          • Moutica says:

            Phil, is pointing out he thinks Nick Wright is the same Nick Wright who owns the company that makes StyleWriter..that does make a difference..if I am selling you a used car and I recommend taking it to a specific auto-shop to check it out shouldn’t i disclose to you if i also owned that auto-shop?

          • Nick is recommending you look at a product. He is not selling you a questionable used car. He didn’t write a biased post to get you to his website or even provide a link to his product. Just a mere suggestion.

    • Neurotic Knight says:

      Review seems dated, grammarly is awesome now.

      • Hoochmooch says:

        This review is 4 years old.

        • Do you use grammarly now? How is it because I have never used it…

          • Hoochmooch says:

            No I’ve never used it. I recently heard about it and was searching for a review about it and came across this. I haven’t found a more a more recent review yet.

          • You can get a free account and rerun some of the above tests and see how it does. I do use the product occasionally. I guess the bad part is if you need the help, then you won’t really know when it gives you bad advice.

      • Constitutionally.sad says:

        i am especially in need of this for plagiarism, so is grammarly ok now, or do you have any other suggestions?

        • Neurotic Knight says:

          Grammarly seems fine, though i have only used free version, also checkout prowriting aid, they also do plaigarism checks, but they do it by the no of documents checked. turnitin is the most common tool used in Universities in UK though, so if it passes through turnitin, then you can be sure, it will be through your university.

      • Issac Neng says:

        so Grammarly is good for checking grammar thoroughly now? I need it for content writing, so it cannot go wrong. Cheers

  2. Some of these -1’s are a little unfair. Grammarly did correctly identify use of the passive voice, and even though passive isn’t ungrammatical, I think it’s good that Grammarly picked it out, making sure that the author knows it’s there and letting them make an informed decision.

    On the flip side, you give Grammarly a +1 for NOT noticing that a “who” should technically have been a “whom.”

    I also don’t think the homogenous/homogeneous criticism is fair. Your example sentence isn’t grammatically incorrect, even if it doesn’t say what you want it to say. If anything, this should be a +1 under “nonstandard variants.”

    RE Web site vs. website. Did you run it as one word, and then Grammarly told you it should be two and capped? As I read it above, you -1’d them because Grammarly didn’t tell you to to close it up. “Web site” isn’t wrong, it just isn’t the style you want.

    I’m not defending Grammarly — it still sounds like crap — but if you’re going to tear the thing apart, your rips should be legitimate.

    • Grammarist says:

      All good points. Thank you for the feedback. You’re right that the “Web site” criticism is especially unfair, so we’ll take that out. And the “homogenous” one is probably unfair as well because, as we’ve written elsewhere, trying to keep “homogenous” and “homogeneous” separate is a lost cause, and it’s probably time to accept the change. Maybe Grammarly is just ahead of us on this. 

      As for the passive voice issue, Grammarly gave its warning about the passive voice for every single sentence constructed this way. This highlights (a) that some parts of writing are too delicate and subjective for a computer program to evaluate, and (b) that the people behind Grammarly are relying on old grammar superstitions, misleading its users and helping keep those superstitions alive. Plus, since there are so many things to consider when putting together a sentence, boiling it down to active voice vs. passive voice strikes us as arbitrary. 

      And that was really our main conclusion–that writing involves so much variation, subjectivity, and preference that a computer program like this can’t possibly do all the things it claims to do. 

      We might just remove this review. We don’t usually do things like this, and we made sure to bury it deep in the site where it would only be found by people Googling for Grammarly reviews. And it still bothers us that anyone would rely on this software instead of a human for proofreading or editing, but maybe we should let it go.

      • I hope you leave it up: the review makes for instructive reading, and people curious about grammar-checking software are likely to find the criticism and comments helpful.

        Automated proofreaders may occasionally meet their claims to improve grammar, usage, and spelling, but their shortcomings in these areas are significant and extensive — and unlikely to come to the attention of prospective users unless reviews such as yours remain available.

      • Jeremy Carney says:

        My English II Professor deducted 10 points off my last research paper for two cases of improper comma use. After looking at my paper again, they were in fact unnecessarily used. Funny thing is, I ran my paper through Grammarly and the software did not detect those improper commas. The only errors it found was three or four cases of passive voice. The software is overrated and unreliable.

      • Dan Bousho says:

        Keep this review up.

      • Preston Bethany says:

        The point of Grammarly isn’t to be relied on as a professional editor. That’s why the costs are drastically different. I personally use it as a final step before submitting any academic paper to my university. The emphasis here is on “final step.” Let’s be honest, the sort of person who would rely on Grammarly alone for their writing is the sort of person that doesn’t understand the basics. They need more than an extra tool in their belt. They need a fundamental review.

        You say your review is impartial, but then go out of your way to target the subject of your review as has been pointed out by numerous readers. Your review is just as misleading as the shill reviews scattered across the ‘net, only in the opposite manner. I advocate that you re-write your review, taking into account the value of Grammarly as a tool, rather than a stand-alone editor. At the very least you could add to your review, or remove some of the fundamental contradictions of style requirements used in your scoring system.

        • I totally hear you, but a ‘final step’ that doesn’t pick up entirely misspelled words? You might as well just use Word as a final step. This review has totally confirmed my experience.

        • Using this as a final step? Anyone who knows how to write is not going to use garbage like Grammarly as a final step. It’s a tool for fools who like to part with their money.

          • Preston Bethany says:

            Have you used it, or are you just going off of this review that contradicts itself? I’m also not sure what version of grammarly they used for this review, because the one I used picked up everything from misspelled words to comma splices. Unless you are in your own words, a “fool who likes to part with their money,” I’m not sure that you would have any experience with the product to judge it by.

          • Yes I tried the trial, total crap, thanks for being a useless shill for them.

          • Preston Bethany says:

            Thanks for being needlessly rude and inflammatory. I’m not going to continue this conversation with you, as you’re clearly incapable of communicating like a civil human being.

          • No worries, life goes on without you claiming other people have not tried something and wrote about it lol. They way I see it you were the one being rude. Eat that.

          • Scott Shemwell says:

            You’re the rude one, Kitty. I signed up just to post this. You sound like an immature idiot. Your comments should be redacted, so that no one would be subject to accidentally reading them. Clearly they do bit moderate these comments, which is either good or bad, depending on how you look at it. We’ll see if mine appear, and stay up…

          • Hey, its a free country. Since you are clearly against FREEDOM of SPEECH, then you need to leave and find yourself a suitable home on Mars where you can dictate whatever you want.

          • Just because it is a free country. It doesn’t give you the right to insult other people. That’s not what freedom of speech means but I’m guessing it means that to you. You could have gotten your point across without the unnecessarily rudeness. Nobody said you can’t have a different opinion about it. If you said it in an educated way then it would have been fine.

      • I agree, keep it up. You can’t see exactly what Grammarly does until after you give them your credit card, so this information helps people who need to know before they buy.
        I went for it, put in my credit card info, and have since been trying to figure out how this software is worth it’s price tag. I don’t think it is – it keeps missing obvious mistakes, and recommending corrections for non-existent errors.

        • Thank you! Their plagiarism engine is completely bogus, I tried content from completely original sources on some of the biggest, largest reporting sites on the web, and Grammarly marked them all as Plagiarism infested content. Yea, no thanks!

      • Johan Du Toit says:

        I have terrible grammar as English is my second language, and was considering giving Grammarly a go. I think this is a great review as it pointed out that Grammarly won’t catch simple mistakes that even I, as a second language speaker, would notice. And I feel SUPER self conscious about my terrible grammar now!

    • Grammarly works very well for me. I’ve been using it for months.

  3. I’m glad you signed up for a membership of that website because I felt rather surprised with how many English errors I supposedly had in my sentences, then I started to wonder wheter or not it was a reliable website and now it’s proved that ” Grammarly” is a total failure.

  4. Thank you, I was debating if I should sign up or not!

  5. Brandy says:

    After I signed up for the trial, my credit card information was compromised (and the software is mediocre).

  6. Gerrit Holl says:

    Thanks for the useful review!

  7. Ascendant782 says:

    Great information.  Thanks for taking a look into this over-hyped site, and debunking the exaggerated claims of how great it is.

  8. Kpulugurtha says:

    On using Grammarly, the second-language users of English will feel extremely dejected and they will never think of the language.

  9. Nice review. Pleasantly ironic is the fact that the Grammarly Web site is littered with writing blunders, including the “correctly-spelled” hyphen foible you’ve quoted here. If the site were free it might be moderately useful, but paying these people is a colossal waste of money.

  10. AnidesAntrobus says:

    Thanks Grammarist, for doing the legwork. I was considering Grammarly because there are reasons to suspect that they had built a better mousetrap, but… no.

    I used Grammatica years back, and its performance was worthless. Voice recognition software was cute, but it made too many errors to be useful. Grammatica was like that.

    Grammarly seems like more of the same. Too noisy to give a good signal.

    I will avoid it like moldy bread. Thanks again.

  11. Thank you for your comments about Grammarly program. What do you think about White Smoke and is there any other grammar software worth considering?

  12. Juan Maria Solare says:

    Nice review. As a non-native speaker, I depend on software before bothering friends with my requests. Anyway I wouldn’t rely only on any software, even in my mother tongue (Spanish) to write any important letter or article/paper.

    What worried me concerning grammartly, above all, was the fact that they didn’t say anything concrete about payment before signing up – no concrete figures. I find this is unfair, and for me actually a deal braker. Tell before I sign up what is going to happen, and I can still decide whether to give you sensible information.

    I think that the main ideas behind the software are OK (the anti-plagiarism feature, for instance) but must be still very, very improved to be reliable. It can be done…

    Juan Solare (musician), http://www.JuanMariaSolare.com

  13. Fantastic review! I subscribed to the software believing their promises. It didn’t do the job! Full of gimmicks and waste of money.

  14. Tried the 7-day trial because one of my editors already uses the program. I didn’t care for it. It didn’t catch anything that we do. I always put two editors on one book and caught everything this program did. It doesn’t allow for the old Kings English and for a book I’m on now and I have to, so it flagged way more then needed. This program is mainly for authors BEFORE they turn it over to an editor. It also takes too much time to weed through all the suggestions this program gives you and I ended up ignoring most of it anyways. This program is not for sale. It is only for rent. The monthly price is insane. If you’re an author putting out several books a year, then this may be the program for you. Use it, THEN turn it over to an editor.

  15. Thank you! I almost fell for it. Damn google ads. They know i’m writing something. BTW, if they promise you a free trial, but still insist on your credit card details, opt out!

  16. Do not use!! They will recharge your credit card without notification..

  17. Heyba dude. Ize cost me lotsa green too put out Grammerly. Does yew bee sew wize you could erect better in smarty pants? Kut a brake!!!

  18. Saved me $$$

  19. I never got a confirmation of the purchase.They wrote in an email they were going to try my card again, so first thing I do is check the last ten transactions and what do you know it was taken out not only that but they depleted what was left on my card leaving me broke.

  20. I wanted to sign up for this program for a project because I am making a point that computers can’t fix everything in grammar and spelling as many people want to believe. I wanted to see just how well it could correct mistakes (obviously not very well). I’m glad I came across your review!

  21. Dave Kemp says:

    Excellent review. Pity that Google is still advertising Grammarly on your page!

  22. Oohh man, I just signed it…wasting money. I thought this is good for plagiarism checking. I also check some paragraphs from some journals. It doesn’t work!!!

    • Serena Greene says:

      I was using the little thing on their web page just to see (wasn’t going to give them credit card info) and took a paragraph from a tech document I was writing and it said it contained plagiarism. Umm I think not!

      • Susan MacHarg says:

        I was going to buy today on 1/2 price sale. But I have been using the free product and I like that. It is already too intrusive and I was worried I would spend all of my time being interrupted by grammarly.

  23. Try Whitesmoke. At least the people are nice.

  24. I signed up for the 7 day trial, foolishly set the plan at 12 months, thinking I could cancel if not happy. The program worked for 7 days and then my “contract” kicked in. At that very time my page froze — can’t clear, can’t upload, can’t download, can’t do anything. Have contacted the company every day and receive a reply asking that I be patient!! the technicians are working on it. The program is totally useless but I have a plan for 12 months!! Starting to wonder if the whole 7 day trial thing is a scam!! I would not recommend this program AT ALL. Beware!!

  25. Bambellina says:

    Thank heavens I checked this blog before I typed my password. What a scam! Thanks for the review Grammarist. You saved a lot of people heaps of $. =)

  26. Bambellina says:

    Try Ginger Basic. It’s fantastic!

  27. Being a non-native speaker, I pasted a text in my own language. To my surprise, this software says that the formal style and vocabulary are OK, but it has some problems with capitalization, etc. There is no single word in English, and I still get 29 points; for what? Let alone that I pasted an original text and this software has detected plagiarism, but when I have done the same with an unoriginal text, it says that the text is original. The last point is the least relevant, though (most of the time plagiarism is detected); what is the real problem is a complete ignorace in other matters. The general conclusion is that if this is this best software of the kind, it’s still in the very early stages. Engines are already better than humans in chess, but considering the level of Grammarly, it will take ages for computers to become better in language skills, let alone contexts, logic, understatements, irony, etc. Perhaps there is something better; I hope so.

  28. DavidJapan says:

    You are doing a very great service exposing charlatans like this. The obsession with the passive probably goes back to that other piece of nonsense written by Strunk and White. The passive is essential in so many situations, especially in technical academic writing where the emphasis is so much on the materials, equipment and products being affected by the verbal action rather than the agent who is doing it to them. I was appalled by the stream of nonsense that I got when I tried Grammarly, but you have gone to so much trouble to really set out clearly (yes I split my infinitive deliberately) where it fails to deliver.

  29. TFreelancer says:

    Please do a review of WhiteSmoke.

    • TFreelancer says:

      Just checking around…it has been labelled as a bad software on cnet by reviewers, some also calling it a scam. I got my review of WhiteSmoke from there. Thanks for this post on Grammarly. BR

      • May be you are right. I used trial version of whitesmoke. I find it fair. I run the above sentences in white smoke’s online checker. It did catch some mistakes that grammarly did not but it also failed like grammarly on many. So not sure which one is relatively better.

        Someone should guide us as I also need such a program.

  30. Scereyaha Dreamweaver says:

    It’s quite possible that it’s a “good” enough tool for people who already understand proper usage and just want some reminders and suggestions for the more obscure things that it tends to catch; not as a tool to rely on, but rather as a somewhat distracted and old-fashioned adviser to help a little, and be used as a learning tool. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t come up to try to correct anything in this field.

  31. Grammarly, “Correct all grammar errors..” Wow, that is a bold face lie if I ever heard one. FYI, Grammarly wants me to correct “bold face lie” with “bold face lying.” Because, “The verb face should be followed by a gerund (verb ending in ing) instead of being followed by an infinitive.”

    • Karen Nemet-Nejat says:

      Whoever wrote the program, does not have a clue about English grammar both in th US and in the UK. I was born in Boston and did my PhD at Columbia University. I also spent 2 years in the School of African add Oriental Studies doing post-graduate work By living in the UK, I found that I quickly learned British spelling and vocabulary differences.

  32. It’s interesting that in the sidebar of this page is a Grammarly ad. Try now!

  33. LoneTree, WY says:

    I was considering this program, but not longer!!! Thanks for saving me $$$…

    • Jasmina Heganovic says:

      I subscribed for 1 month only, just to see how it works, and they counted me in next month also, without even notifying me that they took another 30$! I am really disappointed by their unprofessionalism. talking about rude behavior!!!

  34. Mitch Joblove Silverman says:

    You just saved me $87.48–and a bunch of spam email. (“Unsubscribe, please.”) Thanks!

    A suggestion though: Dates on your articles would be great. They would help readers evaluate the freshness of your material.

  35. Please date your articles.

    • Quentin W. Buetow says:

      If you had taken the time to read all of the comments, Margaret, you might have found the answer yourself, ma’am. If you go back up to their review, you should see a reference to a New York Times article they used as a test bench. Click on that link. It should take you to the very article they referenced. See the fate? What does it say? “21 January 2012”.

      It doesn’t take much initiative or effort to find out these things all on your own. Please don’t be so snide, cynical, or demanding next time.

      • Christina says:

        All she said was please date the articles. You’re the only one being snide here, Quentin.

        • Quentin W. Buetow says:

          Yes, I was being snide … just like she was. It’s not a difficult or insurmountable task to use one’s intelligence to discern how to click on a link. So, my advice to YOU – Christina – is to mind your own business as I wasn’t speaking to or addressing you, sweetheart.

          Stupidity is a sad thing … and Miss Margaret up there has shown her lack of intelligence on more than one occasion. So, do you have any further comments you’d like to make … or maybe some more irrelevant observations that I should address?

          Have a wonderful day, pumpkin.

          • Christina says:

            Lol mind my own business. On a public forum. Good one!

          • My, what an angry and aggressive little man! I’ll remind you, Mr Grumpy Pants, of your tweet from Jan 1: “Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” ~Eckhart Tolle

          • Lester Concester says:

            Wait so you were snide…because she was snide. Hahaha, are you five and someone just took you last cupcake? (Although from your profile pic it looks like you haven’t missed many cupcakes :)
            P.S. If you want people to mind their own business, don’t post on a public forum.

  36. WOW. I was actually thinking of signing up with Grammarly before I read this. Thanks for the tip

  37. Grammarly has a few problems other than just not living up to expectations. If you have grammarly installed and you look at your browser page source of any website you browse, you will find that grammarly adds code via your browser to the page source for tracking purposes. While this in itself may not bother some people, it did stop some sites from loading fully when I browsed to them.
    So if you have grammarly installed and find that some websites are not loading, check to see if Grammarly is the culprit and not the website. Oh, yes, you need to uninstall it….just dis-enabling it did not solve the problem for me anyway.

  38. Roz Klaiman says:

    Unfortunately, users of Chrome do not have an online spellchecker other than gramamerly, at least that I could find. Grammerly free version (Chrome /Google should supply a decent free spell checker) is about the worst program I’ve used in over 30 years of computing. It’s favorite pop up is “no spelling suggestions” for the simplest words and it’s so-called grammar corrections are out of date – it loves commas. So if everyone commenting here petitioned Google maybe we can have something half decent.

  39. I came here searching for a review that included information on how Grammarly actually worked (word processor plug-in, upload document, cut-and-paste, whatever). Instead, I find it may not be worth my trouble to track down that type of information. Hah!

    Anyway, it’s interesting that you state that you removed the banners, and yet here–a couple of years later–there are banners from AdChoices at the top and side promoting Grammarly.

  40. Glad you guys did this! To see if Grammarly works myself, I submitted a 400+ word email article sample that I wrote yesterday on their website. It came back with over 30 something errors. Total bunk! That article was proofed three times over by my mother who holds a masters degree in English and a PHd in theatre. She has taught over five dozen English 110 and 210 classes at several community colleges and universities. She has read and scored hundreds if not thousands of English papers. She has written a dissertation and a couple screen plays.

    There was nothing wrong with my 400+ word article! This software is crap! Don’t buy it! Writing takes time. Writing is rewriting–we have all heard that, right?

    P.S. Any grammatical errors in my post are my gift to you.

    • Jack Austin says:

      You know hundreds is a huge difference from thousands. So which is it? Funny how people go over board to prove a point. I would have believed you regardless:)

  41. Thank you for saving me money. I have just googled this and it clearly does not meet my requirements.

  42. Charlie Harding says:

    There was just an advert for it on this page!

  43. Nice review. Could you do a review of ProWritingAid please. It seems to be less about grammar and more about writing improvement. I’d love to know your thoughts.

  44. Also, I was wondering. Does the fact that something doesn’t spot all of the mistakes make it useless? I’ve sent text to a professional copy-editor and they’ve missed mistakes. Surely it is only useless if it a) produces too many false positives that you can’t see the wood for the trees, or b) you have too much faith in it that you don’t check it yourself.

  45. Also, it’s ironic because there is an ad for Grammarly in the sidebar of this web page.

  46. Jon Ronnquist says:

    I recently used Grammarly to do a final, last-minute review of an edited manuscript I have been working on for the last 18 months. Of the two thousand or so suggestions made by the program, roughly a dozen were actual mistakes overlooked by the editors. For my purposes, this was actually worth doing. But only because I could ignore the nonsense and take advantage of the law of probability, which stipulated that a few genuine mistakes would be lurking somewhere inside all that computer-generated garbage. And at no time did I expect anything more.
    The simple fact is that “automated grammar checker” is an oxymoron. The sheer complexity of language and its endless nuances makes the idea not so much improbable, as impossible. a program of this nature that actually worked would be the next great leap forward in the development of artificial intelligence, not a piece of subscription software running in MS Word.
    I’m not here to criticise the program itself, only the company who created and sells it. And to offer my condolences to those would-be authors who have been duped into thinking they have found something that can compensate for their underdeveloped grasp of language.
    My advice: Read, read, read and read some more. When you feel up to it, start writing, but don’t stop reading. Take a class in basic grammar. Once you’ve finished writing, find a good editor and let them at it. By all mean use the spell-checker as you go, but whatever you do, DON’T try to improve your writing using Grammarly (or any other program that claims to do the same thing). You’ll come a cropper, guaranteed.

  47. Christina says:

    Um. Why are the ads still on the site?

  48. You’re still advertising Grammarly. I find that funny, since you claim to be so conscientious.

  49. Thank you very much for the review – I found the outrageous price to subscribe in itself offensive.

  50. I never purchase anything without knowing the cost up front. I would have considered it. I cut and pasted a report I sent to the CEO of my company, and it showed some plagiarism errors. Did I plagiarize from myself from a previous report. In any event, show me the cost up front.
    BAD BUSINESS PRACTICE!!!

  51. I don’t feel like testing it out myself because I’m too afraid of problems cancelling those trial-memberships, but I’m very curious about how it deals with fiction — which often may include stylistic fragments, colloquialisms, and even a little idiosyncratic punctuation.

  52. Three Worlds Press says:

    Interesting review although your spoiler is incorrect

  53. Roz Klaiman says:

    I agree. I actually hate the program because it is forever telling me it has no correction for simple typos like “thye” as an example and then pops up wanting to correct grammar that needs no correction. But it is the only spell check available for Chrome as far as I know. It is BAD.

  54. alanaforsyth says:

    In its self-description it says: “The Grammarly spelling checker not only helps you locate misspelled
    words in your writing, but also helps you to identify the
    correctly-spelled words that you have used incorrectly.”

    Two errors: There should be no comma before “but also,” and in in U.S. style, adverbs ending in -ly are not hyphenated with the word that follows.

  55. do you know any good sites for plagiarism… so far i have just been google-ing the parts i am worried about, but i dont think this is a very effective method…

  56. I really appreciate your review. Thanks so much for saving my students and myself from such a let down.

  57. There are ads for Grammarly on this site now (2014 November). Did your opinion on Grammarly change since this article was published?

  58. There are ads for Grammarly on this site now (2014 November). Did your opinion on Grammarly change since this article was published?

  59. Grammarly is a waste of money and has pitiful customer service. They spent 4 years in their forum avoiding the question of language settings and then deleted the whole thread when I pointed out how ridiculous it was that they took so long to address it. Google ‘Grammarly reviews’ for evidence of how the service doesn’t work.

  60. Interesting. Folks tell me to read my work out loud. This is a great but not perfect solution. I’ve tried – and liked – Natural Reader. While the voice is dull, it reads mistakes like ‘it it’ that I might look over. It reads relatively naturally, so I can tell where a comma should be, not where it ought to be. Etc. It’s not perfect. But I like having another voice read every word. I can tell when I am too wordy (cause I start falling asleep or asking, is this necessary?). It doesn’t correct spelling but when it reads it – I can tell since it’s mispronounced. It doesn’t correct grammar, but again, the voice is a good tripwire for me to stop and check it on my own.

  61. This article seems to be over 3 years old now. Web-based services like Grammarly are updated frequently so it seems extremely unfair not to date the article. I use Grammaly now and it seems to catch several of the things it missed in this article. If you’re looking for a honest review of Grammarly, I’d advise looking elsewhere for something more recent.

    • Megan Maileoi says:

      I tested all of their phrases using Grammarly and it returned an error on some of the issues that were listed (e.g. it returned an error on “definately”, “mischieviou”, “cleanup”). I agree that the software has most definitely been updated since this article was written and it is unfair not to list a date for the article or add a follow-up statement regarding the software effectiveness at this point in time.

      I use it in conjunction with other spell check/proofing software and I find it useful.

  62. Russell Cunning says:

    Grammarly are now pushing a free account with Chrome – and a free plug-in for Word. I thought it was worth trying!!

    Talk about outright FRAUD!!! The free plugin installs, but doesn’t do ANYTHING unless you upgrade, which is the full paid subscription. Grammarly are promoting their product through outright deception. The product isn’t free. Sure, you can open a free account. But it’s a worthless account, because the plug-in has NO functionality.

    I avoid all companies which practice deceptive promotion, regardless of whether others think their product or service is good or not. Because if they lie about one thing…

  63. Maria-Erlinda Martinez says:

    In addition to all of that (I run it only as an add-in utility within MS Word and Outlook) sometimes it requires at two passes to catch all errors. It is very unreliable.

    And, worse, Grammarly wrecks my mouse’s operation and the copy (Crl C) keyboard feature. Also, it disables the Review feature of the two (MS Word and Outlook).

    And the worst of them all: one has to be connected to the Internet to run it. I some cases their server(s) is (are) down. That is, you as a customer do not have autonomy, you cannot run it as any other application installed on your computer.

    Then they may be committing fraud in advertising; The offered to me for near $7/month but when I ordered, they charged me for 12 months in advance without my authorization,

    This is clumsy, terrible product for which fraud in advertising is probably being committed; is you ask me. my unequivocal answer is: Do NOT buy it.

  64. I tried this software because it was suggested by my team…I even downloaded the ‘free’ plugin for word and outlook…This is Jan of 2015…It’s useless!! I am on Chrome and I need to pay for it to work on Word. No way am I paying for this. BTW…this article is quite old yeah, so has the software improved or still remained the same? Could you give us an update on this suggest any better software as well please? Thanks for the lovely and very informative article.

  65. First started using grammar checks in the early days of MS Word. I found that boning up on elementary proof reading skills (info easily available online) much more useful. I see things haven’t changed much. I would say giving a piece to another person and good proofreading habits are much more valuable than any software.

  66. Khatera Arch says:

    I think we fall for it because we need something like that to do help us. If grammerly doesn’t do the job well, then do you have any other suggestion?

  67. Hunter Maxwell says:

    You should do a new review. I ran some of the sentences through Grammarly. It seems to me that a few issues have been fixed in the past three years.

  68. Deon Scanlon says:

    So… have you tested the “Find my next love”, Dating Russians, site? It would be pretty funny if that didn’t work! Also… Grammarly ads are still on this page… THREE YEARS LATER. WTF?

  69. You know how I know this is bullshit? I took all the sentences that you stated were not corrected at all and put them into Grammarly. It corrected all the mistakes you stated it missed and also stated that I plagiarized (obviously since I copied it off your site)

  70. i agree with you. money back guarantee of grammarly also completly scam. i already suffered under this offer.

  71. I plugged your test sentences into Grammarly to check the checker. I stuck in the first 3 sentences and all three were corrected by Grammarly. The information appears to be out of date.

  72. E ROWLEY says:

    definately and mischievious??? My demo version caught both words. Pretty much indicates the rest of this article to be b.s. too.

  73. Maria-Erlinda Martinez says:

    I had to have the office of the Santa Clara county District Attorney to make Grammarly to refund me for a cancelled “subscription” whereby Grammarly advertised a price of this much a month, without telling that they would charge the customer for the entire year in a single payment. I emailed many times demanding my refund after one or two months trying the product, to no avail. It was until then that I resorted to recruit the arm of the law to my rescue. Grammarly conceded its dishonest way of conducting business and sent me my refund, but by then, the application itself, besides being clunky and a deficient grammarian –who knows how– it wrecked my mouse driver, messed up MS Word, even affected the keyboard performance. Grammarly was a very disgusting experience; even at this stage, four months after uninstalling it, the computer where I installed it originally limps miserably. I thought I had to share my bad experience with Grammarly. The idea is bright, but they have to clean up their entire act.

  74. Kajira M says:

    I made the mistake of signing up for a quarterly account. Most companies at the very least remind you that they plan on charging soon, however, not Grammarly. In fact, when I emailed to notify them that I was surprised by their choice to handle their business this way (and I’m more than entitled to my opinion) I received a snotty email back telling me they “are not compelled to notify customers” that they will be billing soon. I will make certain to describe my experience with this company in every possible way. There is always a tactful way to respond, and going by their unprofessionalism alone, I wouldn’t recommend this company to my worst enemy. I find their program useless and their business model disingenuous.

  75. Karen Nemet-Nejat says:

    I am amazed that this program barely works but somehow manages to get to the top of a Google search.

  76. Andrea Nieblas says:

    Unfortunately, I am not the happiest camper since I paid for 4 months…ouch. I have done some experiments to check if the tool actually works the way it’s claimed, with only 50% of success. Well, the best thing to do is to take grammar lessons..but for a non-native speaker, it can get tough.

  77. Karen Collins Henry says:

    Could you write a better program than Grammarly? All you noticed about Grammarly’s is it’s
    inability to correct grammar perfectly.
    Can you correct a piece of writing perfectly while providing contextual feedback and suggestions all within a five minute time frame? Universities spend no time teaching or
    reinforcing proper grammar. Student receives very little feedback regarding grammar usage. Even writing centers, at Universities, do not
    provide feedback on grammar. While, I do not believe Grammarly is a perfect program, the ultimate
    assessment, or the bible of grammar, I do believe that Grammarly is a useful
    tool. I think a more useful test of
    Grammarly’s effectiveness would be to compare the amount of feedback provided
    by Grammarly and a human assessor. I would bet money that the human would also
    make mistakes, miss spelling errors, overlook misused commas, etc…
    Additionally, a human would most likely not provide contextual grammar rules,
    the feedback, which I believe is the brilliance of the program. I get that grammarly is not the be all and end all of grammar, but
    it is trying to provide a valuable service and regularly attempts to improve on
    the technology. Grammarly is trying to fill a large void currently unfulfilled
    by our academic systems. So don’t beat
    it up, unless you can do better.

    • I believe what you say; however for all the time they have been in business they haven’t produced a Canadian/British version. So why are they dragging their asses? The cost of the American dollar almost killed me for my year’s subscription. I noticed there was a discount but none to be seen on my receipt.. Maybe only for US subscribers?

  78. Judas Iscariot says:

    I especially like the mischievious ones. Grammarly is correct as ‘ones’ does not tell the reader what or whom the sentence is talking about. It should be ‘I especially like the mischievous kittens. Mischievous acts as an adjective describing the kittens whereas it cannot do so using the word ones. Ones what? Mischievous can also be used to describe an action (verb) as in ‘George is mischievous.’ Actually Apple spell check does a good job on spelling and MS Word has its own grammar correction program which works just fine for the most part.

  79. I’ll wait here for a free Chrome extension called “Grammarist”. Let me know when you’re out of beta.

  80. TruthWillWin says:

    It shot a “Significant plagiarism was detected” warning about a short paragraph I had composed for the test.

    I hate websites that expect me to register before reading the Terms of Usage. ‘Grammarly’ is one of those. :(

  81. Strangevista says:

    You are still advertising Grammarly on your site! Did something change?

  82. It appears that the English grammar can be really complex if we take into account different contexts, cultures and so on. Language is ever evolving over time and space. The fact that many people are grappling with the rules of grammar shows that maybe the problem is not with the people but with grammar itself. It is at best a general guideline and at worst a clunky tool.

  83. Taat Prihatin says:

    I need to translate some documents. Ideally, I need a native speaker to review and proofread my translation. However, I do not have one so I go to Grammarly. In many cases, I doubted the result and suggestions, but since I do not know the ‘real correct’ one, I do not have any choice than to continue using Grammarly.
    Your review seems to be ‘make sense’ with my case and experience.
    Is there any better (reliable) grammar check?

  84. Dear Grammarist: I wish you would but the date of an article right under the headline. (I know that a few other blogs do not date their writing, but I wish they would too). The date is one of the many factors that careful readers consider in trying to assess the reliability of text. If I had not looked at the comments, I would not know that the review was 4 (or more) years old, and therefore may not apply to the current version. Also, you said that you were taking down the banner ads, but two banner ads for Grammarly flank your review.

  85. Glycanthrope says:

    I used the free version of Grammarly to check my novel. English is not my first language, so I expected Grammarly to pick up a lot of errors – but it didn’t. What it did point out were a few commas in excess, and non-existing names and places (it’s a fantasy novel) – and that was it. My conclusion is that either I’m better at English than I thought, or Grammarly is not all that it’s souped up to be. In either case, I have little use for it.

  86. Joseph Ramsey says:

    Sorry guys, I just signed up for Grammarly the other day and am having a great experience with it. When someone pointed out this review to me, I went and tried the examples in Grammarly (the pay version) and it got almost all of them right. It certainly didn’t make any grammatical mistakes, and it caught most of the usage mistakes too. So I think they must have read your review and responded to it. So that’s my challenge: try the examples in this review in the *current* Grammarly and then decide whether this is a good review or not to pay attention to now.

  87. Plagiarism Checker says:

    This was a very useful and innovative and

    Interesting it’s was a so nice and blog post

    article it’s helpful
    Plagiarism
    Checker
    Plagiarism Checker

    Thank you for this
    Information .

  88. daremosan says:

    I would love to see an updated review. Grammarly seems very much improved now.

  89. I use Grammarly and decided to see how it does four years later. I randomly reran 18 of the tests that failed. I didn’t do plagiarism or American English vs. British English. Out of the 18 it corrected 11 that it previously didn’t. I see no reason why not to at least give it a try. The basic version is free.

  90. I’m not 100% sure but I think this add-on is causing more errors than it’s fixing. I’ll write something, back up to fix it, and it will shoot back sometime to the beginning of a word three words prior to the one that has an error. And it’s constantly in the way. Very intrusive how it covers up the text field to the bottom right. I had to delete it.

  91. Arleen Anderson says:

    Thank you.

  92. I was really considering paying for Grammarly but this review and subsequent comments just saved me $70. Thanks.

  93. I pay for it – sometimes it helps, but more often it nags.

  94. Fill the void says:

    This article is outdated and misleading in regards to current features of Grammarly.

  95. I found few red flags with the Grammarly before I found this article with Google. One red flag was that they say “Sign up. Its free.” And that doesn’t seem to be the case. There is no mention of pricing until you are already signed up and they have your email. They hide the pricing page too, its not easy to find. And when you do find pricing page, its quite expensive with no trial period, which is suspicious in its own right.

    The way I read it is; Don’t try to see that we are not as good as we say we are, sign up and pay us, preferably for a whole year. And off course they want you to sign up for the yearly plan so that you get best value. Yes its true you pay less per month but the real value is that they got you for a year and since they charge more per month basis if you sign up for just one month, but you pay less per month if you sign up for a year. Its a dirty way they are manipulating you into signing a yearly contract. I don’t like that at all.

    After googling for Grammarly a bit I found people who actually test the service were not impressed. They mock the competition, namely Microsoft Word but in fact it was better in my tests. My theory is that some young startup collage boys got the idea of hey, there is need for spellchecking and grammar checking online since most people suck at that. We don’t really have the technology but we will do clever marketing and will get people who don’t know any better to sign up. That is just my theory, but I would not be surprised if its true.

Speak Your Mind

advertisement
About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist

Sign up for our mailing list

Sign up for our mailing list