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Is Grammarly free trial worth it?

Okay . . . that headline is a small joke. If a service trial is free, you have nothing to lose, right?

And in the case of the Grammarly free trial offer, you have everything to gain.

If you’ve spent any time on this site, you know that I often emphasize that:

  1. Your book has to be a top-quality product.
  2. Publishing the best book possible often involves paying for specialized services, such as copy editing and cover design.

That’s why I paid attention when I got an e-mail from the folks at Grammarly recently (that’s an affiliate link — as are others in this post. That’s how much I liked it.). They invited me to try their software that scans what you write for grammar and spelling errors. It also checks for plagiarism when you’re working with someone else’s manuscript (a great resource for high school and college educators, by the way). I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker online because my articles have been copied and presented as someone else’s work before, and I don’t like it. The plagiarism checker makes me feel like I have a little more control over that situation.

Grammarly can help you save money on an outside editor by helping you find some of your mistakes before the editor’s meter starts running. Less editor time equals less money out of your pocket, right?

I tried it . . . I liked it

With that in mind, I accepted Grammarly’s blog post sponsorship offer (a free trial and an Amazon gift card in exchange for a blog reference).

I decided to use it for a week on my own writing assignments so I could test how it compared to the features built into Word for Windows. Word’s automatic grammar checker frustrates me because it often applies the wavy red or green underline to words or phrases that are correct. When clients see those colored lines on the articles I send them, they think I’ve made mistakes. Microsoft can’t be wrong —  right? Wrong.

Bottom line after a week: I like using Grammarly. It’s a bit like having a private writing coach who lets you focus a little more on what you want to say and a little less on how you say it, because your “Grammarly coach” will show you the grammatically correct way to express yourself. It helped me improve client article assignments before turning them in.

I also used it on a blog post, saving a few screen shots to show you here. In the example below, the software suggested that I might have a run-on sentence in the text. Thanks to that tip, I changed “Some won’t respond and others will decline to participate” to “Some won’t respond; others will decline to participate.” (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Grammarly run-on

On the other hand, in the example below, the software interpreted the last name “Costas” as “more than one Costa,” and gave me bad advice. That’s not unusual with the software. Like Word’s grammar checker, it will suggest changes that you really don’t want to make, unfortunately. That said, most of its recommendations are more sophisticated than what you’ll get from your Word processing software.

Grammarly_2

 

Overall, the software improved everything I used it on last week. The improvements weren’t dramatic because I write for a living, so I’ve got the basics figured out. But many authors aren’t full-time writers. Their “day  jobs” often involve little, if any, writing, so a little extra coaching from software can be very helpful.

Will it help you?

Because there’s a fee — $30/month, $60/quarter, $140/year — I’m not sure that full-time professional writers will get their money’s worth unless they have an employer who will pay the fee for them. I would definitely recommend it to authors who don’t already write for a living, though.

The site lets you try before you buy, too. Just copy and paste text into the trial box on the home page, then complete the form on the results screen for a free seven-day trial. (You might want to time your trial so that you’re using it when you need it the most.)

Note that the trial box on the home page doesn’t let you select the “style” of writing you need. When you access your free trial, you will be able to select from general, business, academic, technical, creative, or casual styles. That way, you’ll get feedback that’s appropriate for the end product and reader.

Your ultimate goal is a great book. We all need a little help with that.

What other software or products help you improve your writing? What do you recommend using?

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8 Comments

  1. Thanks for doing this review of Grammarly. I had received an offer for a free trial a while back but passed on it. My thinking was that since I write fiction it would probably give me corrections to dialog that I didn’t want. Also, I’ve worked with professional (human) editors since 1988. Your suggestion that it would be more valuable to part-time writers is probably spot on. Still, I wondered what I had missed and how much a paid version would cost. Now I know.

    1. Donna, I wonder if your assumption is correct. Maybe somebody who writes fiction and has used it will comment.

      Sandy

  2. I used grammarly and in fiction, too. You can’t accept blindly every suggestions but it is a good tool to spot overused words, repeated nouns, and run ins.

    My experience is that grammarly doesn’t show a tendency to overcorrect dialogues over the rest.

  3. Great review! You have to be careful with any automated tool, but having a tool that is more intelligent than Microsoft Word is often a great time saver, and for us not having English as our native language, can save us for making a fool of ourself…

    1. Thanks, Carl. Word is always telling me to correct “mistakes” that aren’t mistakes, so it doesn’t take much to be better than that option!

      Sandy

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