If it’s been a while since you last studied grammar, then the chances are that you’re making mistakes without even knowing it.
The English language is surprisingly complicated, and even native speakers can create error-ridden pieces of content.
Not only is bad grammar difficult to read, but it also makes you look unprofessional and destroys the trust that you’re trying to cultivate with your audience.
We all know how important good quality content is and that extends beyond having something valuable to say. You need to present your viewpoint in a coherent, legible and grammatically correct manner.
What is Grammarly?
If you’ve never heard of Grammarly before, it’s a grammar checker that can proofread text for you. It will point out grammar errors, but it goes far and above that by allowing you to check for plagiarism as well as choosing a variety of document types to create more accurate work.
Grammarly can work in one of two ways; you can either use their website to input your content and work within their tool, or you can install the plugin to your web browser or OS and work within your editing tool.
How Much Does Grammarly Cost?
As with most SaaS companies, there are different prices depending on whether you’re paying monthly, quarterly or annually. I pay for our access on a yearly basis because it’s far cheaper, saving us $18.29 each month.
At the time of writing the annual subscription is only $11.66 per month, quarterly is $19.98 per month, and monthly is $29.95 per month.
For my company it’s a no-brainer, all of my writers use Grammarly on a daily basis, and it saves us a fortune in editing costs.
How I Use Grammarly
When you first open up a new document on Grammarly, you’ll be able to either copy and paste your text in or simply upload your existing file to their website.
If you click on the pen icon on the left bar, you’ll see that you can select the types of errors that you want the program to search for. This is fantastic if you’re writing for a unique situation and you know that your grammar is abnormal, but you still need the spelling and punctuation checked.
For my purpose, I tell the writers to use the default settings because this will check the text for everything possible.
You’ll also notice that you can choose the style of the document. This is, in my opinion, the most underused feature. It’s going to prevent you from having red flags for ‘errors’ that you need. For example; if you’re writing a user manual you’re going to break a huge variety of grammar rules. But for the sake of creating a useful guide, they must be broken.
Choosing the correct style is going to save you the hassle later down the road of having to ignore a bunch of false errors.
Once you’ve inputted your text or uploaded your document, you’ll be able to see it on the left of the screen, and the program will work its magic. Typically it takes only a few seconds to begin showing errors, but for documents that are many thousands of words, it might take a couple of minutes.
Be patient; eventually, you’ll see all of your mistakes, in bright yellow and red. In the bottom bar, you’ll see the number of words, the number of critical and advanced issues, plus a score for the text.
Our writers always work to score an absolute minimum of 90-points. This is almost perfection, given that some errors might be for repeated words in a scenario where you can’t use another word instead.
I’d recommend that you always strive to score at least 90-points as well.
Grammarly makes it very easy.
Your advanced issues are underlined in vibrant yellow color and are shown inline on the right of the page. Here you can review the suggested change and simply click the green text to agree to the change.
Otherwise, just click on the arrow to the right and you’ll get an explanation of the error and the suggested change. Here you can either read more about the grammar rule, ignore the change, or click to accept it.
In my extensive experience using Grammarly, I’ve found that an overwhelming majority of the recommendations are entirely accurate. You can simply scan through the document and click to make the obvious grammar improvements.
Even doing just this can take an article from a score of 75-points up to 85-points or greater. This means that the grammar is far superior, making the article much easier to read and therefore reflecting better on you as the author.
You’ll also see that some parts are underlined with red rather than yellow, these are critical errors and always need to be fixed. A critical error is usually either a spelling mistake or a grammatical mistake that will change the meaning of the sentence.
That’s one of the things that makes Grammarly so much better than a standard grammar checker; they show you what must be changed and what can be changed. This is helpful if you’re in a rush and need to only remove the most critical problems.
Having our writers use Grammarly has gone a long way to curing one of the biggest problems that we face; passive voice. For those who don’t know what the difference is between a passive and active voice, here’s an example:
Passive: The entrance exam was failed by over one-third of the applicants to the school.
Active: Over one-third of the applicants to the school failed the exam.
See the difference? With the passive voice, the action is performed on the subject of the sentence, whereas with the active voice the subject of the sentence acts.
This might seem like a small issue, but it can make a huge difference to your writing. The vast majority of people will prefer to read in an active voice and repeatedly using a passive voice can be frustrating to readers.
Trying to teach all of the writers that I employ, how to write in an active voice would be impossible. But with Grammarly, they can find out for themselves and therefore gradually learn how to write actively, plus they have a system to check their work.
If you’re having someone else write for you, whether it’s an employee or a freelancer, it’s always a good idea to check for plagiarism. Unfortunately, it’s rife in the world of writing and if you never check you’ll eventually be taken advantage of.
We all know that Google hates duplicate content, so the last thing you want to happen is that you pay someone to plagiarize and then you get punished by Google too. No Bueno.
Believe it or not, Grammarly can ever help there. If you look closely on the left menu bar, you’ll see an icon of a magnifying glass. If you click this, then you’ll be able to turn on the plagiarism checker which cross-references chunks of your document against a database of 8-billion pages.
Although I doubt this is as effective as services like Copyscape, it’s also completely free and should be able to find blatant copies very easily.
Well, why not test it out?
For this test, I copied a page from my website (WordAgents.com) and pasted it directly into the article, then turned on the plagiarism checker. As expected, almost instantly it recognized that everything I had pasted was copied.
It even tells you exactly what page the content is from, what the title of the website is and the date that their tool accessed the page.
Perhaps that test was a little too easy; we did give it the entire page after all. Let’s up to the ante.
For this next test, we only gave it 72-words of a post that is around 8-months old, and it didn’t even flinch. It instantly told us that it was 100% plagiarized.
Bare in mind that my company’s website isn’t particularly popular, it’s not like we’re giving it content from Wikipedia to test.
But as you can see, it’s performed particularly well. I did go ahead and copy a new post that we only published a few days ago, and as expected it didn’t notice anything out of the normal.
So, it’s clear that the Grammarly plagiarism checker works incredibly well for the large majority of content, but it’s only as good as its database. That means that it might not pick up on the text that is copied from the newest articles.
Overall, I’ve been overwhelmed by quite how effective Grammarly has been, and it’ll be a key component in my business for the foreseeable future. But how does it compare to a human proofreader?
Grammarly vs. Human Proofreader
Human proofreaders play a critical role in any publication. They’re there to check your work for mistakes that you’ve become blind to, to make structural changes and to recommend content improvements.
Grammarly ticks two out of three of those boxes. Like the large majority of software, Grammarly struggles when it comes to being creative but excels with structured rules and guidelines.
No human being in the world will be able to remember and apply strict grammar rules at the speed of a program. But no software in existence today can have the creativity that a good editor or proofreader can bring to your content.
Therefore, the question becomes, what do you want from the proofreader or tool? If you’re only looking for grammar improvements, spell checking and error finding, Grammarly is the clear winner. But if you want an editorial eye, creativity, and style, a human is the only option.
Of course, this completely overlooks the subject of cost. A good proofreader or editor is extremely expensive; they’re some of the best-paid members of staff at magazines or newspapers and for a good reason.
On the other hand, I’ve already shown you that you can pick Grammarly up for $11.66 per month. An absolute bargain in comparison.
Who Should Use Grammarly?
So, given the price, the capabilities and the drawbacks, who is Grammarly for? It’s a great fit for me, and I run a business that produces content for some of the largest websites in the world.
But it’s also the perfect solution for small businesses. In fact, I’d suggest that it’s even more important for a small business owner than someone like me.
Grammarly excels when it comes to improving bad grammar. My staff is comprised of graduate-level American writers, meaning that the average grammar level is pretty darn good.
But for a local business owner who has little experience writing content and even less time free each week for editing, Grammarly is a lifesaver. It’s capable of turning your average blog post into something that reads well and conveys your message more concisely.
It seems to me that Grammarly was designed with both small business owners and large publications in mind. Each of the features in the program will help the user to be more efficient. It cuts down your time on plagiarism checking, it makes grammar changes easier, and it allows average writers to create something that’s enjoyable to read.
Whether you’re a one-person team, creating just a single post per week, or a large publication with a team churning out 6-pieces each per day, there’s a place for Grammarly in your business.
Is it Worth it?
No review would be worth its weight in salt if it didn’t answer this simple question, is it worth it? To me, yes. Grammarly has made editing a breeze, it allows my writers to quickly improve their work without having to refer to a textbook, and it allows us to store our work in one location.
When you consider the benefits that Grammarly can bring to your business, $11.66 per month seems like a fair price to pay. Wouldn’t you agree?
Vin D’Eletto owns and operates WordAgents.com a SEO-centric content creation agency for small businesses and digital marketers. He has been an avid SEO enthusiast since 2010; launching several revenue-generating websites. Most recently, Vin sold one of his websites for over $500,000. Read the case study here.