What is Grammarly and how can it help me

Grammarly is an AI (artificial intelligence) ‘writing assistant’ that helps improve your writing. As I’m using Grammarly Premium under the free one-month upgrade from the upaid version, this article What is Grammarly and how can it help me refers to the features of the Premium version.

Try for free

You can create a free account with Grammarly Free, which will check your grammar, spelling and punctuation.

The next level up is the paid Grammarly Premium, which offers over 400 checks and features, ranging from clarity, delivery, fluency, engagement and plagiarism checking. Grammarly Free allows a one-month free upgrade to Grammarly Premium.

Using Grammarly with Microsoft Word

To use Grammarly with Microsoft Word, you open the Grammarly app then upload the document you want Grammarly to check into the Grammarly dashboard – there’s an option ‘Upload doc’.

Then you ‘Set goals’ for your manuscript:

1 set goals

Let’s use a couple of examples.

Book 1. Say your book is about a specialised area of science. Your audience will be ‘knowledgeable’, the tone would be ‘formal’, the domain would be ‘academic’, and the tone would be ‘analytical’.

Book 2. Your book is an historical fiction novel. Your readers aren’t necessarily knowledgeable about the event or the times you’re writing about. So you’d choose ‘general’ for audience, ‘neutral’ for formality, ‘general’ for domain and probably ‘neutral’ for tone.

Book 3. You’ve written a children’s book. Audience would be ‘general’, formality would be ‘informal’, domain would be ‘creative’, and tone would be ‘friendly’, or ‘joyful’ or ‘optimistic’.

Getting started

I assessed Grammarly on a blog post written by an intern before it had been edited for publishing. For the post, I set the goals to general, neutral, creative and friendly. Here’s the first page:

grammarly screen 2

Grammarly gives me the option to accept all changes at once, or dismiss them all.

screenshot

Obviously, it wouldn’t be wise to dismiss them all, and neither would it be wise to blanket-accept them. You still need the human touch. Personally, I would review the suggestions one by one, by clicking on each underlined word or phrase.

Picking up repetition

When I click on the underlined word mundane, Grammarly’s suggestion is I change this because two consecutive sentences use the same word. I agree with this change. I might choose to accept the Grammarly suggestion of ‘ordinary’ just by clicking on the suggestion, or I may want to select a synonym from a thesaurus. The important thing is that Grammarly has picked up that I’ve used the same word in close proximity.

screenshot repetition

Proceeding down the page, Grammarly highlights the next two underlined words, interesting and clear (see second screenshot above), as a ‘Vocabulary’ issue. Both these words ‘tend to be overused’ and the suggestion is to ‘use a more specific synonym to improve the sharpness of your writing’.

Clarity

The paragraph below with underlines is because it may not be clear for a general audience, which we chose earlier under ‘Set Goals’.

With the first sentence, Grammarly makes a suggestion for change:

screenshot clarity

I’m happy to accept this change, so I just click on ‘Rephrase Sentence’.                   

In the second sentence above, Grammarly highlights readability as the issue and suggests either removing unnecessary words or splitting it into two sentences:

screenshot readability

The easier option is to split it into two sentences. If it works, then we can move on and if not, we can look at removing unnecessary words. However, by splitting this sentence into two separate sentences, the improvement is immediate.

Use discretion

Now, with Grammarly’s further suggestions here for the words setting and real – I choose not to change them. It wants me to add an article (‘the’) before ‘setting’, but in this context that isn’t necessary. It also suggests replacing ‘real’ with ‘natural’ but that does not work here – the suggestion is not a synonym in this context.

screenshot fixed

Let’s proceed a little further into the document to see what other gems Grammarly has for us. In the example below, Grammarly is highlighting conciseness, and I definitely agree and accept this change.

screenshot concise

I don’t however act on the next suggestion, as real is an adjective qualifying life and no hyphen is needed:

dont change everything

Grammarly in other applications

As soon as I installed Grammarly, I noticed it was checking my Gmail emails, my Facebook and LinkedIn posts, and even my Loomly post scheduler. The beauty of this is that most of your communications will be checked. However, if it annoys you, you can disable Grammarly for any of these apps.

In summary, Grammarly Premium is an excellent tool for improving not only the grammar but also the style and tone of your writing. Its ability to set an audience type and a ‘domain’ adds a dimension that no spell checker can rival.

You still need to intervene and make editorial decisions. You must play an active role in reviewing your writing. It would be unwise to ‘accept all suggestions at once’ per the second screen in this post. Besides, if you did, you would be missing out on the learning experience that Grammarly offers to improve your writing – which is the goal of most writers.

If you’d like to give Grammarly a try for free after reading What is Grammarly and how can it help me, click here

Photo Acknowledgement: Photo by Franck on Unsplash

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