I have been working on my third book. I’m at the stage where I need to proofread over and over again. As I did with my last book, I’m turning to automated grammar checkers to help with the process. They can’t replace a proofreader, but they can help improve the process. For this book, I’m trying a program I haven’t used before – Grammarly.
Grammarly is a web-based grammar checker. You just copy and paste text into an online form, and it runs the check. It is extremely rigorous, and almost overwhelming with how many suggestions it makes. It took time to get used to this. Many of the suggestions are style related, suggesting synonyms or simplifying complex sentences. Although these are valuable suggestions, they aren’t mistakes.
For the major grammatical errors, Grammarly does a great job. It identifies very subtle mistakes in sentence structure. This makes it a program you have to spend time using to get the real value out of it. I found a number of cases where the program identified an error that I thought about writing off as ok. Then, after reading the sentence very closely, I confirmed the software was right. This was most likely to occur with long, complex sentences. The software was able to analyze these sentences and figure out that something was wrong.
Grammarly also identified a number of false positives. These were sentences that had a structure that didn’t fit exactly how the software recommended. The suggestions were not wrong. I’ve seen this with other grammar checkers. There are always a number of false positives.
The synonym suggestions were helpful. On every page, the program offers dozens of suggestions for alternative words. Any writer looking to expand their vocabulary and write with more varied wording choices will find this valuable.
I have also been using the grammar checker in Word and the program on the book. Whitesmoke and Grammarly are similar in what they accomplish, but they are very different programs. Both are much more effective than the Word built in grammar checker. For my book, I ran everything through Word, then Whitesmoke and finally through Grammarly. This meant that every error Grammarly found was an error Whitesmoke missed. Whitesmoke does a great job, but there were numerous corrections Grammarly found that Whitesmoke missed. I expect that if I had reversed this order, Whitesmoke would have found errors Grammarly missed. Neither will catch 100% of the mistakes.
Overall, I like Grammarly. It is very effective at identifying grammatical errors, and will help any writer proofread their work. I’m still deciding if I’ll keep my online subscription. I already have Whitesmoke and it is effective. I like both of them, but am not sure I don’t think I need two complete grammar checking packages. If you are considering a grammar checker (if you don’t have one, you should), it’s really a toss up between the two – they are both very effective.
I’ve been testing both programs on resumes and will follow up with a series of articles with the results.