Ok, so it’s not entirely true. I don’t regret buying a subscription, but I’m not perfectly happy either. It is better than Word’s built-in grammar checker, but it won’t replace the proofreader. What can I say, it’s complicated.
It started during the last-minute jitters of finishing endless editing rounds of Shizzle, Inc. I was oscillating between the highs of being happy with my copyeditor to the lows of stressing over the proofread. Thanks to one of you, who suggested trying Grammarly, I decided to have one last go at proofread myself.
Originally, I was going to get a year-long subscription, but when the time came to pay up, I got second thoughts. What if I tried it and it turned out to be worthless? Grammarly warns you everywhere that charges are not refundable. In the end, I’d decided to do a $29 trial month, and I’m glad I did. Short story is that I won’t subscribe for a whole year, although I will probably do another “trial month” to check my second manuscript. Here’s why:
- I downloaded it as an add-in to my Word, so I could do all editing without the need to upload the file to Internet. This means you can use Grammarly as you write and not get confused with multiple versions. Just watch out – autosave is disabled when Grammarly is enabled, so you have to remember and save manually. Good thing I’m paranoid and do it every five minutes anyway.
- Grammarly caught a few embarrassing misspellings (did I mention I’ve had three independent, highly qualified editors look at this thing?). It’s “cozy homes”, not cosy. Isa avoided going outside altogether, not “all together.”
- It agreed with me that a comma is not necessary before “and” in sentences such as “she said and asked for my license”. Of course, you may hate it for that same reason.
- It caught British spellings in what was supposed to be an American text (I would kiss it for that alone). Again, after a bazillion rewrites, there were “spiralling”, “dialled”, and “wolly” with two “l”s, as well as monologue, criticising, realising, and moustaches.
- It’s consistent. Human editors missed the same bits that they previously highlighted elsewhere in the document. Grammarly was often wrong, but at least it was 100% consistent in doing so.
- It gives you explanations for all its decisions. That helps making the final call on whether or not to accept a change.
- Grammarly is not a writer. It constantly complains that my sentences are too long and that I use a passive voice.
- It doesn’t have a sense of humor and therefore doesn’t get that redundant and inappropriate words are part of the comedy.
- It is annoyingly politically correct. I mean, it suggests “undocumented migrants” instead of illegal aliens. Really, Grammarly? Wait, Grammarly hates every occurrence of “really”, too.
- It highlighted about 1,200 potential errors in my manuscript. About a thousand of them were dead wrong, and it took me a whole day to get through all of them.
- It needs an Internet connection at all times, otherwise it falls out.
- It did not pick on that many verb tenses, even though I suspect I have a few errors here and there. This was the main drive behind buying the subscription, because I find verb tenses so difficult.
- It constantly thinks that I’m addressing people and demands more commas. For example, in “we need a grinder guard” it thinks someone is asking Guard for a grinder.
- Some of the comma suggestions just did not make any sense and would have changed the meaning of the sentences. In the end, I’ve ended up going with my gut on the comma suggestions – if it felt right, I put one in, and if it didn’t, well – don’t judge me too hard on it!
I was going to have “The ugly” section, but I’m feeling a lot more accepting and zen about it all now. If you are interested in a second opinion, here’s a much more thorough and almost scientific post from Grammarist.
The bottom line is that I think $29 was worth catching a few embarrassments and giving me a bit more assurance in comma placement. So there you go – although we’re taking a break now, I have a feeling I will be getting back together with Grammarly for the next book. Even if it’s just a one-month stand.