Every once in a while, I like to do product reviews. My last software review was ProWritingAid back in June, 2016.
Today, I test its competition, known as Grammarly.
I did not want to review Grammarly based on the free version, due to not having access to all the tools one would use. However, I had used this for a month when my ProWritingAid expired, and waited until I had a half off coupon to purchase a three-month subscription.
Grammarly and ProWritingAid are two tools discussed within the writing community. Like Apple and Windows, you have people who are religious fanboys (girls, in most cases), and you have those who are willing to try something new.
Without further ado, I give you my thoughts on Grammarly (along with some hilarious typos while editing various parts of my manuscripts). I will on occasion, have screenshots of Grammarly and ProWritingAid to show the differences in each product. Moreover, yes, it is a work in progress I am doing – which is not the final to this document.
This does not mean to use this tool over hiring an editor. Tools are made to assist you before the manuscript or story reaches a beta reader or editor for final corrections.
Disclaimer: This blog post is image heavy, so please click on the thumbnails for examples. I didn’t want to kill anyone’s device with loading a crapload of images unless they wanted to see.
Overall score: 4.5/5.
Versatility with Editing Documents
When I tried Grammarly, I used the free version because I juggle business/academic writing with creative writing. However, I wanted something with a little more versatility and found ProWritingAid did not offer this feature when I needed to switch to business writing.
The first thing I noticed on Grammarly Premium was a greater range of choices when it came to editing styles. The gallery below will show each format, featured by the highlighted blue word.
In this instance, Grammarly won me over: there are over 20 writing documents it supports, including academic writing formats. This was why I looked at Grammarly in the first place.
I love Grammarly’s display over ProWritingAid. While it is compatible with Scrivener, it is currently in beta, and I found myself doing twice as much work (and my editor was upset at when we had to correct quotation marks because ProWritingAid stripped all my formatting).
So far, Grammarly informs you when it has lost connection, but I’ve never had any formatting issues. I do have one quirk with it so far, but I will write those thoughts at the end of this review. But this is the comparison between the two.
Here is a better view of Grammarly’s check for errors, where I have used this blog post as an example.
I find Grammarly easier to read, because all the colors are horrible for a person with ADHD. Terrible distraction, especially when you turn on the word substitution checker.
Speaking of this, let’s jump to this section, where I have mixed reviews.
ProWritingAid wins in this department when it comes to the number of words you can substitute. Some people might need a dictionary when you turn on this option because it pulls up some interesting word choices. While this might sound cool to you as a writer, don’t do this to your editor or readers, unless the character is meant to sound pretentious and snooty (or your readers are super intelligent and like pulling out dictionaries). They will wonder what you are smoking if you start using words intended for a thesis or a doctorate level paper.
(I am pretty sure I’m not the only one whose ever done this, but my editor forgives me when I transpose two letters and think it is the right word.)
Grammarly wins in this department for two reasons: they give words that are closer to the one you’ve repeated or used wrong, and you’re not overloaded with highlighted color central.
For this reason, I prefer Grammarly’s thesearus check, as displayed below:
Holy crapballs, there’s a vast difference there. If you suffer from ADHD like me, you do not need all the colors of Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat to throw up on your word document.
If I could mix these two portions, that would make a perfect thesaurus checker for me: more words, less colors. Otherwise, I would go with ProWritingAid, since I tend to repeat the same 12 words when drafting a scene for mood.
Spelling Errors and Style Corrections
Most of my first drafts are messy by nature, so I have left any typos or grammar mistakes in this post to show how Grammarly catches errors. These are the examples that I have when drafting first drafts (or just forgets that the iPad wants to autocorrect random words on an off day).
Here are some things that it catches about grammar, spelling and style errors. I love how it explains what the error is, and why you should use something else.
Grammarly also is better with reporting American English verses British, but I will get there in a later part of this review.
Now, like any software, there are some downsides. Here are the ones I found.
Difference in Reporting
ProWritingAid looks at writing from a technical standpoint versus Grammarly. Those who are familiar with ProWritingAid know about things such as “glue sentences”, which I resented like the plague. However, this proved a hindrance with my writing, because I kept forgetting conjunctions. For now, I leave this report out if I use the free version.
Grammarly, while checking for style and technical issues, has its reports user-friendly and where you do not feel quite so stupid. When I edited with ProWritingAid, it felt clunky, and it showed in editing. I published my second book using Grammarly versus ProWritingAid, and both proofer and editor said it was a cleaner read than my first manuscript.
When it comes to reporting, ProWritingAid wins in the technical aspect, since you can turn off individual reports. However, ProWritingAid does not have a clear way to check for plagiarism, unlike Grammarly.
American versus British English
While Grammarly does a better job at being consistent with this than ProWritingAid, I had to question some spellings, like monologue. Some British spellings are acceptable within an American English manuscript, or within the Chicago Manual of Style.
For this reason, please do not use editing tools in replacement of hiring an actual editor. Otherwise, you might find some typos in the “document of shame”, which is my blooper section.
Typos and “misspellings”
This is my favorite section because I get to display my funny findings while trying both paid versions of software.
Names might break Grammarly’s brain. I found it amusing that Aviere’s name broke ProWritingAid, while Limere broke Grammarly to the point where I just added it to the dictionary.
Cool words, but not what I was looking for 🙂
Others might just break Grammarly completely, but apparently, vaping broke Word, Grammarly and ProWritingAid, according to three sources. However, Grammarly took the cake with this gem:
Why no. Lim does not want “rape a vape”, thank you very much.
Moreover, some typos are not corrected, even if they’re spelled correctly. Had I not hired an editor, I would have had someone “saute someone to death”. How I missed this in the last chapter, I will never know.
This was my review of Grammarly. Let me know your thoughts and which one you prefer in the comments below!