Improving Your Grammar—the Easy Way
Recently I was approached by the team over at Grammarly. Check out our tool, they said. It will help you improve your writing! People who write better earn more money! I was skeptical. After all, I was a spelling bee champ! An English Major! Plus, as a result of my long writing career I thought I had a fairly good handle on the world of grammar. Wrong. While I was a bit unnerved to learn how much my writing needed help, I was pleased to see that Grammarly could help me fake my way through mastery without anyone else knowing.
Grammarly is a grammar checker that easily integrates with Chrome and with Word. What I found is that the term grammar checker is an understatement. For teachers you can easily determine plagarism in papers that you receive. Just upload the document and it will crosscheck the Web for you. For writers, it will check spelling, grammar, punctuation and poor vocabulary usage. The extension is infinitely better than the built-in grammar tool you can find in Microsoft Word.
First I began by uploading the first chapter of my new novel in progress to Grammarly.com for analysis. The report I got back was a little disheartening on first glance. 111 alerts for only 10 pages!
Most of Grammarly’s advice is very sound, marking areas of wordiness, passive voice, missing commas, prepositions at the end of sentences, and to my chagrin, a lot of “really” words. Other areas were not as solid. My book takes place in Italy, and there are many Italian words and names that ended up being marked as misspellings, but that is to be expected. Some nuances and turns of phrase were highlighted but did not need modification. Fortunately those highlights were few and far between and the benefit of seeing the useful changes far outweighed the small discrepancies. You can also turn on vocabulary enhancement suggestions which will mark phrases and words that may need attention. Coughing, desk and sliding were marked as overused words, not specifically in my chapter, but in general. I found this handy to show me areas where I could be using more descriptive terminology. I also discovered that vague words were more common in my writing than I care to admit: true, heavy, great and good.
Granted, this is the very first, rough draft, but oh my ego! It seems that I need a tool like Grammarly more than I would care to admit.
The Chrome extension was also a surprise to me. Wherever you write on the Web, Grammarly can be there to help. When I was writing email, Grammarly quickly found unnecessary modifiers and made some suggestions as to how I can tighten my words.
It also helped me on Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn. I was shocked when I was writing a comment on Reddit and the little green Grammarly button appeared to help me better word my statement. On other sites, however, such as Google+ or Google Inbox (it works great on Gmail, but not the new beta Inbox), it’s not integrated. You can, however, easily upload text to the Grammarly.com site for analysis.
Overall I am sold. Except for one thing—the price. In this world of a zillion online subscriptions (off the top of my head I can think of at least seven that I have, which in turn makes me realize I may need financial editing!), adding another is not generally on the financial plan. I far and away prefer to pay one price, one time and not have dozens of recurring costs on my bank statement each month.
At the time of this writing, the subscription costs for Grammarly are as follows:
Monthly Subscription — $29.95/month (for you mathematically challenged that’s $359 a year!)
Quarterly Subscription — $19.98/month, billed as one payment of $59.95
Annual Subscription — $11.66/month, billed as one payment of $139.95
For someone like me who can shuffle by with existing tools and the eyes of my fellow writing group members on my manuscripts, the cost doesn’t make sense. But for those who struggle to get the words right and are looking for a tool that will truly propel their writing to the next level, Grammarly is a very sound choice and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to others.
Learn more and sign up for your free trial on Grammarly.com.
Disclosure: In exchange for this review, Grammarly is donating $150 in my name to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. However, all opinions within this review are my own.
Crystal King is a 30-year marketing, social media and communications veteran, freelance writer and Pushcart-nominated poet. She is the author of the FEAST OF SORROW, about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius, and THE CHEF'S SECRET about the famous Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi. Currently Crystal works as a social media professor for HubSpot, a leading provider of Inbound marketing software. Crystal has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet writing center. A former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in media res. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at her website: crystalking.comSee other articles by Crystal King