I may be compensated through the links in the post below, but the opinions are my own.
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Grammarly Proofreader and Grammar Checker Offers a Free Version for Your Web Browser and Your Computer
If you do much writing, then you worry about grammar—punctuation and the usages of words and phrases in the English language. (Even if you don’t spend much time composing blogs or documents, you still need proper English—if only to produce a résumé free of obvious errors.) Many authors (including myself) habitually make the same mistakes. For that reason, virtually every wordsmith uses a spell checker. However, spelling correction software only takes us so far.
The most insidious English language issues involve the details of punctuation and how we use our words. Grammar problems always rear their ugly head. When should we use which word? Even if spelled correctly, we might use a term in the wrong way. A computer program easily recognizes a misspelled word, but proper English usage presents a more complicated problem. That’s why good grammar correcting programs are hard to find.
A while back, I discovered a free AutoHotkey script which corrects common misspellings and/or grammatical errors with Google search. It cleverly extracts the “Showing results for/Did you mean?” response from a Web search as a replacement word or phrase. When entering an improper search term, Google usually returns the correct spelling or grammatical form as an option. This AutoHotkey script I call GooglePhraseFix.ahk directly substitutes into the document the Google response for the highlighted word(s). (See Jack’s AutoHotkey Blog for a discussion of how this AutoHotkey script works.)
For example, if you type “Where is you’re house?”, highlight it, then hit the key combination CTRL+ALT+C, the sentence changes to “Where is your house?” Pretty cool, huh?
On the downside, you must preselect the target text—meaning that you already suspect a grammar problem. Plus, it doesn’t always work—especially with long selections. For those reasons, although a clever example of using AutoHotkey for accessing and parsing Web pages, I rarely use the script. I want something a little less hit and miss.
Grammar Correcting Software
Over the years, I’ve tested a number of grammar checking programs. Eventually, I dropped each of them either because they missed too many mistakes or, as in the case of some Web-based systems, they slowed things down to a crawl. I have now found Web-based software which finds most (if not all) of my grammatical errors without slowing down my browser. Best of all, I’m getting all this with the free version.
Grammarly proofreading and grammar checking software operates either through your Web browser or a special app loaded onto your computer. It does more than most other grammar checking programs, especially considering that you can get it free. I recommend that anyone who does any amount of writing install the free extension in their Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari Web browser. (If you use Internet Explorer or the current Microsoft Edge browser, you’ll need to switch to one of the other options—at least when you write.)
Note: Grammarly offers a free version which works with Microsoft Word, but since I don’t use Word (ever), I couldn’t possibly comment.
While working on this blog, I tested some known grammar issues to see how the free version of Grammarly would react. One of my most common mistakes involves the misuse of the “your” and “you’re” sound-alikes. I know when I should use which form, but my typing fingers often get confused. When I entered the test sentence below, Grammarly returned the following results.
After hovering the cursor over the underlined word, clicking one of the options in green replaces the word.
Grammarly works in real-time while you type. In many cases (including spelling correction), you can immediately make the correction. At times, the Grammarly window (shown above), which gives more detailed information, requires opening before making a change.
For most people, the free version of Grammarly may be all they ever need. But, if you write either professionally or for the sheer pleasure of seeing your words published on the Web, then you may want to consider the paid version. Grammarly teases you with comments such as “Upgrade to make advanced corrections” or “7 CRITICAL ISSUES 16 ADANCED ISSUES” with an “Upgrade” button. (I must admit that it makes me curious, but I have so far resisted the temptation to upgrade—although I plan to do just that for eventually testing and blogging about those other features.)
Upgrading to a paid version of Grammarly gets you:
- 150 critical grammar and spelling checks
- 100+ additional advanced checks
- Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
- Genre-specific writing style checks
- Sophisticated plagiarism detector
Plans are currently available for as little as $12 per month. If you don’t do much writing, then you may want to stick with the basic plan. The free version offers just about everything the non-blogger needs. But, if on any level you write regularly, the paid version of Grammarly should help enhance your documents while educating you on the nuances of the English language. If you only need to complete a short-term project (such as a résumé), then maybe you upgrade for just one month (currently $29.95). It could be worth it merely to avoid those errors which might make you look uneducated to a prospective employer.
At a minimum, even if I hadn’t partnered with Grammarly, I would be using the free version. It has already caught many errors which the spell checker missed.