I am prone to small errors in my writing. On top of that, I type on a sticky keyboard. I greatly appreciate any proofreading help I can get. Grammarly is one tool I find really useful.
Grammarly sits in the background and uses AI (artificial intelligence) to proofread your writing. It checks spelling and grammar, making suggestions based on the content of what you are typing. It has a free version and a premium paid version. This article only looks at the free version.
In my experience, Grammarly does an excellent job proofreading my text. In particular, it is good at catching my overuse of commas, confusion over “affect” versus “effect”, and neverending spelling challenges. (Yes, it is embarrassing to admit to all these personal writing challenges.) A number of times I have questioned whether Grammarly gave me appropriate suggestions. When I have looked up the usage outside of Grammarly, I almost always find that Grammarly is right.
Grammarly comes in many formats. It has plugins for FireFox, Safari, and Chrome. It has apps for iOS and Android. It also offers a free extension for those using the Windows version of Microsoft Office. The exact interface varies somewhat depending upon where you are using it. However, it basically has one of two looks. Either it highlights mistakes it finds in red while you type or it provides a tool to check a work upon request.
Grammarly most typically underlines mistakes it finds in red. When you mouse over the red suggestion, you get a green drop-down box with one or two options for correcting the text, as you see in the illustration below.
Typing this article into WordPress, I see the second type of view. A small round icon appears in the bottom of my window, showing the number of errors that Grammarly identified. When I mouse over the small icon, I have the option to expand my screen and get a popup window with Grammarly’s suggestions.
Author Lisa Wood Shapiro raves about Grammarly in her fascinating Wired Magazine article, How Technology Helped Me Cheat Dyslexia. Shapiro writes about how Grammarly is able to catch and correct her errors with uncanny accuracy and sets out to learn why. She shares her conversations with Joel Tetreault, Grammarly’s director of research and development, along with research Shapiro did into how her own brain works.
As with all online tools, users should be aware of potential security and privacy risks. In February 2018, Google Project Zero’s Tavis Ormandy found a pretty severe bug that potentially gave hackers access to anything that Grammarly users typed. Grammarly fixed the bug within just a few hours of learning about it, which is extremely fast. According to Grammarly, there is no evidence that anyone took advantage of the security hole.