If you’re a business owner who regularly sends emails, prepares briefs, produces proposals and contracts, or creates marketing content, you’ve probably heard of Grammarly. It’s become one of my favourite tools over the last few years, and, despite my reasonably lean approach to subscription services, it has arguably warranted its annual subscription fee.
Could it work for you? Let’s examine some of its most beneficial features (and, for fairness, the occasional weaknesses)!
How does Grammarly help you?
What is Grammarly, exactly? In their own words:
So, it’s an AI editing tool. But what does that mean for you?
Since the “early days” of chat rooms and bulletin boards, the public has, at large, become far more accustomed to finding professionally polished content online – and exercising a certain level of judgement where standards fall below what’s expected. For better or worse, and accepting some cultural bias, poor grammar is often associated with a lack of education, insincerity, or carelessness.
Grammarly aims to fix that by:
- Highlighting errors and correcting spelling and grammar
- Suggesting improvements for wordy or unclear sentences
- Correcting tone, depending on your intended writing style and purpose
- Offering suggestions to add variety to overused words and phrases
- Checking the web for plagiarism risks and listing the sources
Is it perfect? No, but it’s incredibly helpful. Additionally, reviewing your most frequent mistakes in a private, shame-free environment can actually be very educational. Personally, the more I use Grammarly, the less I seem to need it (although it is reassuring to use and still catches the odd mistake).
Aside from avoiding “oops” moments, its real value lies in both the confidence I can have that good standards are being maintained and the reigning in of my tendency to “waffle on” with long sentences. If a piece of written content is confusing and doesn’t read well, that negatively impacts its value.
More than a glorified “spell-checker”
You may already be familiar with spell-check functionality in popular editors – most famously Microsoft Word. Apple also introduced system-wide spell-checking since their X operating system to reduce the need for these features in individual programs. This begs the question: why would we need anything else?
The nuance of language introduces the potential for error beyond correct, context-appropriate spelling. Grammarly, unsurprising by the name, incorporates extensive grammar correction to help your sentences flow smoothly and convey the correct meaning – while alerting you of unnecessarily “wordy” or unclear sentences. Grammarly scores your writing based on the following:
- “Correctness” (the rules of the language)
- “Clarity” (conciseness and ease of reading)
- “Engagement” (word variation and emotion)
- “Delivery” (the tone, such as assertive vs passive, persuasive vs informative).
While the free version does pick up on these problems, a Premium subscription allows you to see suggestions on how to improve each of these areas and set parameters for them – such as how strictly you want to apply grammar rules or how casual or professional you want your delivery to be.
In a nutshell, that’s what it does. But how could it fit into your workflow?
The Grammarly Editor
While this used to be a desktop application, it’s undergone somewhat of a transformation in recent months. The Grammarly editor now opens as a web app requiring a browser but still offers the same brilliant features. Notably, my favourite of these “editor only” features is the ability to request a synonym suggestion, saving me considerable time on a manual search for “better words”.
My second favourite feature is arguably the Plagiarism Checker. Hear me out – I don’t steal things on purpose, but sometimes, I think I have an original idea when I don’t. There’s nothing worse than expressing your words of wisdom and giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, only to find they originally came from a 19th-century poet (or a blog you read last week). Awkward.
I’ve also used the plagiarism checker to confirm whether or not the content I’ve received from someone else is original. On one occasion in particular, it wasn’t, and I had proof of their intellectual property theft and sent it back with a list of the original sources. I’m sure that must’ve been very embarrassing for them (good), but in doing so, I avoided a lot of my own embarrassment – and potential legal action. It also gave me trust issues with outsourcing, but that’s another story.
The Grammarly desktop app (Windows/Mac OS)
Here’s where I get a little critical, unfortunately. In an earnest effort to make their software more flexible, Grammarly recently shifted away from the standalone desktop editor. Grammarly for Windows and Mac now runs in the background with an “overlay” button floating on the screen above your other windows, enabling it to detect errors within a much more comprehensive range of editors we already use – Word, Pages, Trello, ClickUp, Notepad – you name it, it’ll probably have its little AI-eyeballs checking for errors inside it. Very flexible, very easy to use.
This application-agnostic approach could be better, though. Sometimes it’ll highlight only half of a word and warn against incorrect spelling (well, duh), or it’ll insist on changing punctuation – only to immediately insist on changing it back (and gets a little stuck in this loop of confusion). It can sometimes also pull in words from the UI and smush them together with my own content, creating false positive errors.
For this reason, I tend to copy and paste my long-form content into the browser-based Grammarly Editor for a final review and then copy and paste it back once I’ve made my edits (this also has the added benefit of being able to use the Plagiarism Checker, which isn’t available in the desktop app). Still, moving content between apps can sometimes muck up the formatting (headings, bold, underlines, links, etc.), which is essential when preparing web content.
Since this is a new feature, I’m hoping this gets some love from the development team over the next few months because while it’s still useful, it’s just not as accurate and comprehensive as expected.
Unfortunately, with Grammarly for Windows/Mac being their new focus, the Microsoft Office extension is no longer being updated or supported. It is still available to download, but you may want to stick with the browser editor until their desktop app is more reliable as a suitable replacement.
Grammarly Extension for Chrome
This neat little tool is used to check your text input within browser windows; rest assured that it performs dramatically better than the current Desktop app, and it’s been around for a lot longer. It also offers synonym suggestions when double-clicking a word, just like the browser editor. It’s great if you use Chrome for composing emails, filling in forms, updating social media, or browser-based project management systems and CRMs.
And yes, if you’re worried about it reading personal details, it can be toggled off on a per-website basis. 😉
Unfortunately, if you’re a Safari, Firefox, or Edge user, you’ll need to use the Windows/Mac Desktop App instead.
Grammarly for Android & iOS
If you’d like to use Grammarly’s features on the go, the app is available on the Apple and Google Play stores with a unique approach – the Grammarly Keyboard.
After installing Grammarly and signing in to your account, it can replace your native keyboard (under system settings), enabling real-time updates as you write in almost any app. It also offers more comprehensive suggestions if you want them.
It can take a little time to get used to the slightly different keyboard spacing (although you can adjust it somewhat), but the learning curve isn’t as steep as I’d expected, and the features are intuitive and handy. If you’re using your phone or tablet for emails or social media, this app could be valuable in maintaining your clean, polished output across all devices.
What Grammarly can’t do
While it does its best to enhance your writing style, it will do it within the “rules” that it thinks are necessary and “correct”. As with any current AI-based software, you can’t expect it to have its own spark of creativity – thankfully, humans are still quite creatively relevant!
With this in mind, I’d advise you to take some of its suggestions under advisement, but don’t aim for “Grammarly Certified” in everything you do – some “suggestions” are just that – don’t see every highlighted issue as an “error”. Sometimes “passive voice” is required, and sometimes a quirky hyphen works better for the sentence than a comma or a semi-colon. Let it correct your errors and give you peace of mind, but don’t let it completely dictate your writing style.
Currently, Grammarly only supports the English language – although it recognises American, British, Canadian, Australian, and Indian English as variations.
How much does Grammarly Premium cost?
Grammarly works via a “Freemium” model – a free version, plus paid upgrades if you want more extensive features.
While the monthly fee is a bit steep for an AI editing assistant (£25), they also offer quarterly (£17 per month) plans. Grammarly’s annual subscription (£10 per month) provides the best value but must be paid upfront, so it may be worth trying out a month or two to see if you like it first. They occasionally offer free premium trials as well – you’ll see these promotions pop up from within the free editor.
Full disclosure: This isn’t a sponsored post, but I am a Grammarly affiliate partner. As a rule, I only partner with companies and their products/services that I use myself and would recommend regardless. If you’ve found this article helpful and would like to try Grammarly, please use this link (or any others in this post) to help support the creation of future articles, reviews, and digital marketing resources for you to enjoy.