• Michael Linsin

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Grammarly

Grammarly is an app that helps users write with greater clarity and fewer typos and grammatical errors. Such is the goal anyway.

But does it deliver?

I think I'm in a good position to judge. I've been blogging professionally for twelve years, and have published seven books and more than six hundred articles. For at least five of those twelve years, I relied heavily on Grammarly.

It can be a good tool under certain circumstances. It can also be incredibly frustrating. What follows is my humble take using categories inspired by a famous - and awesome - spaghetti-western movie title.

The Good

Grammarly is very good at catching word misuses, omissions, and misspellings. Just copy and paste your text into the app and it immediately draws your attention to anything the AI suspects is amiss. You do need to look at each possible error individually rather than take whatever the AI says as gospel because it does make mistakes.

All in all, however, it's well worth it for this reason alone. Over the years, Grammarly has caught dozens of minor typos and miscues that I never would have noticed - despite multiple proofreads. It's hard to proof your own work accurately. You become so accustomed to a certain internal rhythm as you read your own work that it's common to skip right over obvious errors.

The Bad

I've found the actual grammar of Grammarly unhelpful to my style of writing. This wasn't always the case. When I still had less than 1,000 hours of writing under my belt, I thought their suggestions were beneficial. But once I began to find my own voice as a writer, and became comfortable coloring outside the lines, I found them stifling.

I ignored almost all of their advice and even disagreed with much of it. The AI can catch fragments and run-on sentences, as well as improper word usage, which makes this one particular aspect helpful to novice writers. Once you have many hours under your belt, however, and feel comfortable choosing to write the occasional fragment, for example, it just isn't useful.

The Ugly

I haven't used Grammarly for a number of years, and not just because the grammar wasn't helpful anymore. I stopped using it because it was no longer compatible with Wordpress. One day I tried to copy and paste a post into the app and it no longer recognized the space between paragraphs.

It rendered into a single block of text.

The only way to fix it was to manually work your way down the text and put the paragraphs back in, which for me wasn't worth the time and effort. I kept trying again and again over several weeks, but the problem was never fixed. I contacted them, but they seemed totally unconcerned or unaware of why it would be a problem.

So, I moved on. Unfortunately, I haven't found an alternative worth recommending. As for proofreading my own work? I've just gotten better. I read each post multiple times over multiple days before publishing. I also rely on a very generous sister who happens to be a highly skilled proofreader.

Thank you, Kork!

To sum up, I recommend Grammarly to newer writers and those who want a sure way of catching minor mistakes, like typos and misspellings. I don't recommend it for experienced writers or those who like to be able to copy and paste directly from Wordpress.

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