By Brian Patterson on May 31, 2011 18
Update 10/10/2012: We’ve updated this post in some places to reflect how we are currently using Grammarly and to include a detailed Grammarly Review– exactly what our thoughts are after over 18 months of using the tool.
We were recently introduced to the Grammarly tool and we’ve been having a blast with it. Grammarly is a ridiculously powerful Grammar check tool that has a lot of interesting uses for online marketing, content marketing, SEO, and writing in general. We’ve been using it to QA all of the content that we publish online for ourselves and our clients and the results have been great. It results in content that is more professional because it is error free, and it also suggests different words to use instead of standard/generic adjectives to bring about more interest and flair in the piece of content.
Grammarly bills itself as the “world’s most accurate grammar checker”. Although our exposure to grammar and spelling tools is limited to those squiggly red and green lines that Microsoft Word uses, we certainty don’t disagree with the tagline. The depth of the scans and the explanations are lightyears beyond what you get out of those colored underlines in Word.
The process for using Grammarly is pretty straight forward. You login to the website with either a username/password or through your Facebook account and you are taken directly to a large input screen (pictured below). You simply copy and paste your text into this box and click the big button to begin the scan. It takes just a minute or so and what you get back is a rich set of findings and recommendations. Simple interfaces like this are great; there aren’t a bunch of checkboxes or setting screens, it is just very clean and simple to use.
Grammarly also has a tool that plugs directly into Microsoft Word. It makes the power of Grammarly just one click away from a Word document. As soon as you click the Grammarly button in Word, your document content is put right into the Grammarly website tool for analysis. Update: Since our last writeup, Grammarly has completely rebuilt their Word Plug-in. The new version allows the Grammarly check to happen right inside of Word. It doesn’t send you off to the Grammarly website anymore – nice!
One of the great parts about Grammarly is that many colleges and universities across the United States have purchased blanket memberships for all of their students to take advantage of. Knowing that Grammarly has prestigious institutions such as UC Irvine, Alabama State, and George Mason (my alma mater) as customers who have purchased the tool for their student population provides a level of comfort as a customer, knowing that some very smart people in academia have approved of it. Its also a nice benefit for the students at those colleges to have the tool available to them for unlimited use for free.
We are a remote workforce. We are a team, we all work full-time on this business, but we don’t have a central location that we all drive to everyday. Rather, we communicate constantly through Google Chat, Hangouts, Skype, email, and the like. We’re physically in our home offices, coffee shops, libraries, sofas, or any other random location you could imagine. There are a number of great advantages to this, including the elimination of commuting, dressing up just to dress up, more family time, a more flexible schedule with a focus on getting work done rather than on hours in a seat, etc, etc.
While we don’t feel there are a ton of downsides to this because we heavily leverage online communication tools, what we do miss is pulling someone over to your desk to “have a look at this, real quick”. There just isn’t a virtual equivalent to the instant satisfaction of having someone review something over your shoulder (although real time editing in Google Docs is very, very close).
That is where Grammarly fits in perfectly. Rather than call someone over, we simply paste text into Grammarly and get that instant satisfaction that a grammar-savvy co-worker would provide when editing your work.
We write a lot: blog posts, guest blog posts, proposals, guides, and the list goes one. Pretty much the only thing that we aren’t using Grammarly for is social media updates… because, I mean, c’mon, it would flag everything in a Twitter update! In fact, this meme from the Grammarly Facebook page pretty much sums up grammar on Twitter:
We’ve found our writing has improved the most from the synonyms that are provided. Grammarly will frequently point out overused and less-descriptive words and provide more powerful options. Little things like this can really increase the perceived quality of your writing. For example, Grammarly may point out that instead of saying ‘it was a really big building’, you might consider saying ‘it was a massive structure’.
We don’t use the plagiarism analysis piece much, as all of our content is original research, but I could see how that could really come in handy for students and professors alike.
Of course, the core of the tool is the grammar checker, and we use that quite a bit. As you might be able to tell, we write pretty casually, so we just take some suggestions and ignore others. We like to maintain our voice while still being grammatically correct when we should be.
The downside of accepting some changes and rejecting others is that your 100-point score will never be perfect. Its a minor thing, but it would give better closure if an article that started out as a 50 later scores 100 after improving/editing. Other than that, though, which I admit is pretty picky, I think everything else is really good.
A WordPress Plug-in! Seriously, that would rule. Whether it functioned like the original Word plug-in where it would just kick the content over to grammarly.com for review, or a full-blow analysis right from within WordPress, integration in WP would be great. 75% of our writing takes place within the ‘Post’ screen on WordPress, so integration here would be amazing. Facebook refers to their Like button and other sharing features as ‘frictionless’, because it is so easy for a user to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’. I would love it if spell and grammar checking my content, anywhere, were frictionless. Something to strive for, Grammarly folks!
Googling around, we’ve found some other reviews that seem to mirror our experience and use cases. A couple you might be interested in are:
If you’re thinking about Grammarly, I’d save give it a try using their 7 day free trial. At best, you find a great tool that helps you produce higher-quality work. At worst, you’ve spent a few days trying a tool (for free) that just didn’t work for you. Either way, the downside isn’t all that bad.
If you’ve tried it, please let us know what you thought of it in the comments!
Bonus: Follow Grammarly on LinkedIn or Google+ and you can get small little reminders on common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them. For some fun stuff, follow Grammarly on Pinterest. And, finally, you can checkout some interesting comments and analysis from Grammarly on Economist.com.
Update #2 10/23/2012: Grammarly just launched a Chrome Extension – get it here: Grammarly Chrome Extension. We are huge Chrome addicts, so building the Grammarly tool into into Chrome is pure bliss.
Below is some fun we had with the tool a while back. It isn’t really relevant, but we’ve kept it below for posterity.
In this post we thought we’d have a little fun with the tool and use it to analyze those notorious Nigerian scam emails, also called 419 emails. These emails include crazy money requests from supposed deposed kings, lawyers organizing class action lawsuits, foreign defense ministers in need of assistance, and the like. So, without further adieu, this is our ‘Grammarly Scam‘ test.
Example #1 – Mr. Mike Ole, Manager of a Bank in South Africa
Below is the first email I ran through Grammarly, and I was amazed that it scored a 0 out of 100! My guess is that the score factors in the ‘plagiarism check’, and since this email has been published online, it trips that. Nonetheless, this email is pretty bad when it comes to grammar, so I really hope nobody fell for this scam. The error/notification breakdown is:
My favorite line in this email, which Grammarly caught as a fragment, is “Awaiting your urgent reply via my email.” What does that even mean? Ha!
Example #2 – Mrs. Susuan Patrick
This is another fun one because of the humorous quotes it contains. My favorites include, “My husband died as a result of brief illness called heart attack” and “I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money.”
The scorecard is:
So this one is worse that the other scam email. The Grammarly Scam detector rating would probably be higher for this one that the others.
Example #3 – Tasha Nicole, Regional Purchasing Manager of Smith Chemical LTD
Staring off a letter with ‘hi dear’ probably won’t get you very far when you are trying to scam somebody… and this letter does just that. The grammar and spelling in this one is pretty bad, and our favorite quote from this one is, “The profits we will share it, you take 60% and give me 40%” – that sounds like a lyric from a rock song to me.
The errors found are as follows:
Final Thoughts on Grammarly
If you found this site while doing research for ‘Grammarly’, ‘Grammarly Reviews’, ‘Grammarly Scam‘, or anything else – you probably want to know if Grammarly is good or not. What I wrote about above was some of the fun we’ve had while playing with content that is obviously riddled with errors. Running it through Grammarly brings up all sorts of notifications and errors, and it actually does demonstrate how powerful Grammarly is at analyzing text.
However, internally, we use Grammarly on a daily basis to ensure that what we publish for our websites and our client websites meet a very high standard. Anything published with your name or brand name tied to it is a direct reflection of your name/business, and if its full of errors, you put off unsavory signals that may lead people to draw wrong/bad conclusions about your business. Grammarly is one of those cheap, simple, effective tools to eliminate this from ever being an issue. Anytime you write something that is of importance, whether an email or article, running it through Grammarly gives you peace of mind that it isn’t fully of errors. For us, it’s a no-brainer to use.