Grammarly – Help or Hindrance?


By Julianne Q. Johnson

Grammarly is a grammar checking program for writers. There are several forms of the program, but today I’m here to talk about the plug-in for Microsoft Office. This plug-in also works for Microsoft Word, you don’t have to actually own Office to use it.

If you want to check this plug-in out, you can find it here.

I tried a version of Grammarly many years ago and was not impressed with it. At that time, it cost money, and what the program did was not especially useful. It would point out many things that were not issues, and ignore actual issues.

While there are still paid versions of Grammarly that do additional things, the plug-in for Word is free.

What it does:

The free version of Grammarly catches what it calls “critical grammar mistakes.” It catches possible punctuation errors, misspelled or wrong words, and various grammar mistakes. It will catch wordy sentences and things like incorrect pronouns. It will point each one out and give you an opportunity to take the advice given or ignore it.

What it does not do:

The paid version catches further grammar mistakes, makes vocabulary suggestions, makes genre specific checks, and searches other WebPages for plagiarism issues.

My experience with Grammarly:

I tried Grammarly again yesterday on two projects that are finished, been beta read, and had multiple re-writes. The program has been greatly improved from what it was the first time I tried it. It catches those pesky punctuation mistakes I simply do not see no matter how many times I re-read. Commas after introductory phrases, for example. And those times when you accidently use a period instead of a comma before a dialogue tag. It also caught some British spellings I seem to be in the habit of using, and the fact that I often use “grey” instead of “gray”…

But wait, there’s a warning!

Grammarly is a useful tool, and I do think you should try it out. However, all such programs are going to have difficulties. You have to check each correction suggestion carefully. Never assume Grammarly is correct. That “ignore” option is there for a reason.

No mechanical grammar checker will be correct 100% of the time.  Mine asked me constantly if I really meant to use the word “potion.”  Yes, Grammarly, I really meant it.  it also hated that I use the spelling “Theatre” instead of “Theater” and would not give me an option to ignore.

I can’t stress this enough, every suggestion must be considered carefully before you make the change. Grammarly was truly helpful to me yesterday. It caught enough typos in Descending that I did a re-write to fix them, and that’s a book I’ve re-read a million times. Now, the new version of Descending is live on Kindle. (If you already have a copy, be sure to update it.)  Of the ‘issues’ Grammarly found, more than 70% were not issues at all.  However, the issues it did find, I was very happy to get corrected.

Grammarly does not take the place of a real editor.

Nothing takes the place of having your work professionally edited. If you can afford editing service, you should do it. Period. Grammarly is a helpful tool, but it is only a tool. Give your work the best chance you can to be its shiny best.




Guest post contributed by Julianne Johnson. Julianne has 3 cats, 4 ferrets, 1 goldfish, and one fiancé. She has been writing all her life and has written several books. Her blog is a place for her to share her writing and her love of taking pictures.

17 thoughts on “Grammarly – Help or Hindrance?

  1. I like Grammarly, but I do agree it’s just a tool, nothing more. I would never use Grammarly to replace a real editor. Even with Grammarly, a writer still needs to have a good knowledge of the English language and grammar rules.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julianne, You point out one of the quirks I hate. Incessant and over-correction of British English, my default language choice. Added to that was the poor performance of Grammarly which caused me to uninstall the product. Since changing computers I have not installed the new version. That said I have started using the Hemingway editor and have two other proof reader add-ins for Word.


  3. I’m pleased to see someone else saying Grammarly has some flaws.

    I tried it once, out of curiosity. From the sample I fed it, it listed several words that were “too big” for a work of fiction written for grown-ups: vegetables, ordinary, familiar, revealed… *rolls eyes* It labeled something as cliché that cannot be cliché (and of course, it didn’t even give an explanation for WHY it made that assessment). I don’t recall, but it may also have incorrectly flagged sentences as passive voice that were NOT passive and squawked about any use of adverbs.

    If you use Grammarly (or any other such program), you need to know the mechanics of writing yourself so you’ll know when to ignore what the program is telling you. Even if you do plan to hire (or bribe, coerce, barter with, etc.) a live human editor to fix your grammar, punctuation, word choices, and whatever, it still helps tremendously to know the mechanics of writing.


  4. Far from being the be-all and end-all of editing, I find it a useful tool for all those ‘stupid’ errors. I just wish it would allow me to be English, or should I be embracing the American spelling?


  5. I have also tried and then uninstalled Grammarly many times (the free version). The culprit (on Office, and more importantly on Outlook): the disabling of Ctrl+Z…
    It enraged me so many times that, while Grammarly was activated, I mistakenly removed paragraphs of my emails and wanted to revert them back to discover I actually lost precious time, as I cannot recover them at all…

    However, the suggested corrections usually improve the quality of my texts…


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