Is Grammarly Cheating? Should Students Use It?

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Technology and the connections it brings can be a complicated decision for many parents, especially when certain online software and media are left unchecked. But, there are also many excellent programs and software you and your children can take advantage of to help improve your knowledge of various subjects. 

Grammarly is one such writing tool that provides grammar, spelling, and punctuation suggestions and edits. As a high school teacher and writer, I have found it to be much more thorough and detailed than what is included in popular word processing software used for writing, researching, and sharing documents. 

What is Grammarly?

Grammarly is an online grammar and editing software that you can apply as a writing aid across all programs to help highlight possible grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. It is an excellent tool for students but works well for anyone who needs to check their writing for structure and clarity. 

Grammarly is offered in three different versions: a free platform that provides basic suggestions and corrections; a premium platform that offers sentence rewrite suggestions, fluency, vocabulary use detection, and plagiarism checker; and a business platform that allows three or more users, all of the features of the premium platform, and team management options.

Each tier, except the free version, is offered on a monthly or annual subscription package choice depending on how long you need it. I personally found the Free version to do a decent job for quick edits for competent writers, but the Premium version offers a lot more suggestions to help provide consistent tense and tone. 

If you are looking purely for a plagiarism checker, and use anything like Turnitin, Turnitin checks are far superior. But, if you are looking for both grammatical suggestions and support alongside plagiarism indicators, Grammarly is a great option. It is important to note that Grammarly offers a Chrome extension as well for quick editing checks. 

Even though there are many other online grammar checking services, Grammarly is considered amongst the best. 

What Can Grammarly Do?

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Grammarly works as a writing assistant, providing suggestions for writing fluency to help create clearer sentences. It highlights tone, tense, and confusing or wordy phrases and offers options to avoid redundancy. These are both highlighted within your text and listed alongside to allow you to move through the list to accept what you feel improves your content and ignore suggestions that are incorrect or not valid to your tone. 

As mentioned, if you have either the premium or business platform, it can also identify plagiarism for you as well.

All of this allows you to focus more on the organization and substance of the written work rather than be caught up in the editing details while you write. 

What Doesn’t Grammarly Do?

Grammarly offers suggestions, not corrections, and can occasionally get some things wrong. You will still need to proofread and edit your work, but the help it provides significantly reduces the time spent on this. This is invaluable for students since it forces them to look back over their work – a benefit I often have trouble convincing my students to apply on their own. 

Grammarly cannot tell you what to write about, write a sentence for you, or automatically make changes to your work. You must look over and accept the suggestions made, forcing you to proofread your material to keep the material original in both information and tone. 

Is Grammarly the Same as Cheating?

No, Grammarly is not the same as cheating. Cheating is a massive problem at all levels of education, and with the incredible amount of online material, students don’t have trouble finding ways to copy and paste. 

Usually, cheating is often found through custom paper writing sites where students purchase papers to turn in. However, cheating can be so much more than just that.

Cheating consists of when a program or individual provides the material to write the essay, such as the topic and outline structure, or when you outsource the labor to an online service that writes significant portions of the text. Cheating could arguably also be when a program automatically correction and rewrites material without writer’s agreement or first requiring any proofreading. 

Cheating also depends heavily on others’ ideas, often plagiarizing full texts and leaving used information unsourced. Often, these services require you to pay for materials already written or crafted for you without personal input aside from the topic or writing prompt. 

Most teachers, myself included, have students write in class and apply plagiarism checks to help dissuade cheating. But, that also means I want them to have a good program to help edit their work in a timely manner if I’m not allowing it out of the classroom, and Grammarly is a good choice for that. 

Why Grammarly is Not Cheating

At a university level, stylistic modifications, such as what is offered by Grammarly, are widely accepted and even suggested for use by Professors to help improve writing. Hence, it is also an excellent choice for a High School classroom. Stylistic modifications are defined as spelling, grammar, punctuation, phrasing clarity, and plagiarism checks. 

Grammarly users must agree with and approve all suggestions, and Grammarly doesn’t always get it correct! I’ve mentioned it before and will again: this forces the writer to look back over their material to ensure suggestions do not change the tone or meaning of what is being presented. This helps ensure the integrity of the work is not lost and helps improve the form and function of students’ writing with regular use.  

Grammarly provides an option to improve personal writing. Cheating provides the writing or the majority of the corrected work and removes much of the author’s original material. 

Grammatical suggestionsMakes corrections for you
Indicates poor tense Writes portions of the text
Provides convection adviceGives you the topic answers and outline structure
Offers plagiarism checksOutsourced labor
Depends on the writer’s agreement of correctionsDoes not require writer agreement for completion
Requires original material for suggestionsDepends upon plagiarized and unsourced information. 

What Does Grammarly Do For Students?

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A Grammarly survey study indicated that over 84% of students who use Grammarly believe that it helps improve their grades and allows them to recognize poor writing patterns to correct them in advance. I can see with regular use, that this is definitely well supported. Students who regularly edit their own materials and reread and rewrite always improve their scores, growing exponentially with practice. 

Students who type also tend to get their thoughts down quickly and do not edit while they write. This is a good practice to allow for fluid thought processes, but it often creates many mistakes that can be overlooked on a computer screen. Grammarly catches those mistakes and allows students to focus on their ideas before editing. 

The regular application of the software can strengthen tone and work to build confidence across a wide range of writing assignments. This exposure to varying suggestions forces students to proofread their material to either accept or disregard the choices and improve the tone of their work. 

This reflects in other writing aspects as they become more and more comfortable with recognizing mistakes. This also speeds up the writing process as students will more quickly identify and fix errors during their drafting processes. 

Why is Grammar Important?

I tell my students regularly that their written word is often the first impression a future employer, university, professor, or even romantic interest may have of them. 

Cover letters, resumes, emails, and even text messages are all valid forms of communication. If your writing is full of errors, you may be sending the message that the recipient of your words is not worth your effort to check for proper and understandable grammar. 

Grammar helps to communicate clearly as well to avoid miscommunication and work to build your reputation. According to industry partners my school works with,  a person who takes the time to provide clear and concise messages in their writing is often perceived to be trustworthy and ethically sound. They also tend to interview strongly and are more likely to be considered for career choices after graduation. 

What Does Grammarly Do For Teachers?

Obviously, Grammarly isn’t just for students. Any professional can take advantage of its services to improve writing at home or in the workplace (After all, I do!). But, teachers who require its use in the classroom or use it personally to check their students’ work can save time and provide specific feedback to their students more efficiently. 

With growing class sizes and students slipping further and further behind, anything that effectively places an aspect of academic growth back in the student’s hands should be considered. Plus, its effectiveness avoids wasted time.

Papers that have already been run through Grammarly allow teachers to focus more on the content and ideas of the paper rather than disruptive grammatical issues during grading. 

An unexpected use I discovered is that it truly can provide the quick visual many teachers desire to determine where their efforts need to be focused. 

In particular, Grammarly can help quickly highlight to teachers which students struggle with sentence structure or basic conventions, indicating language barriers, learning issues, or simply poorly practiced skills from previous grades. 

I personally like how well the material is lit up to see where the problems lie. The issues listed are also color-coded to determine with just a glance if convention use, punctuation, or wordiness is the problem. 

The plagiarism checker, in particular, works for students and teachers to help highlight problems with research and sourcing. This is especially important for honors and higher-level education who are held to higher standards and should have a grasp of proper language and resource use. 

Let’s Review

Grammarly is online editing software that provides suggestions to help improve your writing. It is available in Free, Premium, and Business versions which all include slightly different options to get the practical usage you need. 

Everything from spelling to conventions to sentence structure and plagiarism is available and can help both students and teachers to be more effective overall in their approach to learning and teaching writing. It is also widely used by anyone looking to improve their writing skills.