One of my customers has a subscription to the grammar-checker agency Grammarly. The fundamental function provided by Grammarly — identifying most spelling and punctuation errors — is no cost. But if you would like the stronger version you will need to pay $29.95/month.
That price sounds little, but like mobile phone and cable bills, it adds up fast. That relatively small monthly fee works out to $359.40 per year, which is not exactly small potatoes. Needless to say, you can save some cash if you are prepared to pay quarterly ($19.98/month or $239.76 annually ) or yearly ($11.66/month or $139.92 annually ). But — here is my important warning — do not sign up for a yearlong program unless you are certain it is going to pay off for you.
So, what is the difference between the free version and the superior one? And how does this compare to the spell checker everybody gets with MS Word? Here’s my take on grammar and spelling checkers:
MS Word is far better than nothing. But not by much. It will capture a few of the more egregious mistakes you might make. However, it will not always identify homonyms — words which sound the same but carry different meanings: street vs. rode, as an example. (I just did a test, and Word captured the gap between their and they are so its artificial intelligence has improved in the past five decades, at least)
The free version of Grammarly is a lot more sophisticated than Word. It captures a bevy of mistakes that Bill Gates’ software stinks. I just ran my blog post from last week , and it identified 12 of what it termed”critical issues” in the article. I didn’t agree with a few of these as I eschew the Oxford comma (unless I want it for clarity) but it grabbed a couple of things I had missed. For example, in the sentence:
This is nearly always wrongheaded, and is a great way to convince yourself that you’ve got a case of writer’s block.
Grammarly told me I should not have used a comma following wrongheaded. Oh, oh. Grammarly was right.
Then again, for the sentence:
Some folks are born tall; others are born brief.
It advised me that brief ought to be soon . Nice try, Grammarly, but you are wrong about that.
Whatever the case, I appreciated the small explanatory notes Grammarly supplied with every”error.” I also enjoyed the way I managed to ignore their advice when I deemed it unnecessary or wrong.