Although I’ve been using the free version of Grammarly for years now, I wanted to give the paid version another chance. When I first started using Grammarly, it was clunky and slow if you were using it on a netbook or other low-performance device. Now, it seems much less resource intensive than it has been in previous years.
This review is based on a 1-month trial of Grammarly premium, which adds a lot of features. If you’re thinking about trying premium and want to determine if you need it, give this a read! I’ll outline some of the new features that premium adds. I also recommend you try out Grammarly for yourself.
What is Grammarly?
If you’re not familiar with Grammarly, it’s a grammar/spellchecker service with an extension for major browsers. They also have their own desktop app, as well as extensions for Microsoft Office.
Grammarly helps with grammar, style, and clarity. The premium version also has a built-in “plagiarism” checker that checks the originality of your document. I haven’t used this enough to speak on its accuracy, but you might find more use for it if you’re doing reports or other assignments.
One month isn’t a ton of time to test some of the advanced features thoroughly, but I can already see vast improvements in accuracy from the last time I tried it. The premium version boasts 400+ checks. While no grammar checker is perfect, Grammarly is definitely the most accurate one that I’ve tried. (Especially if you happen to use the checker in Microsoft Word—it’s a vast improvement.)
My favorite part of Grammarly is the versatility of the tool—with the various extensions and add-ons, you can use it with Microsoft Office, your favorite browser, or via the desktop or web app.
Grammarly for Chrome
The extension for Chrome works on just about every website. There are some sites that Grammarly isn’t compatible with (like Quora and Medium), but these are very few and far between. The extension allows you to sign in with your Grammarly account to access your dictionary and other preferences. It also “remembers” what sites you have previously disabled it on. If there are certain sites you don’t want it to check (like social media or messaging apps), you can simply disable the extension—it won’t bother you until you enable it again for that site.
Grammarly for Microsoft Edge
I also tested the extension for Microsoft Edge—it runs beautifully on Windows 10 devices. If it weren’t for the slew of visual and compatibility issues Edge has with other sites, I’d actually prefer to run this instead of Google Chrome (on Windows 10 devices). I haven’t tested on more than a few devices, but Grammarly runs noticeably better in Edge if you’re running Windows 10.
For clarification: None of the above compatibility issues stem from Grammarly. These are all compatibility issues with Edge and various websites.
Grammarly for Microsoft Office
The only programs I’ve tried Grammarly with are Outlook and Word. I was pretty disappointed with the Outlook extension, as it often results in a slow startup (almost 12 seconds). It also causes some problems when replying to email. When you hit reply, it will briefly bring up the reply window and allow you to start typing, but then opens the reply in a new window, causing an unnaturally long delay. The checker also runs noticeably slow in Outlook compared to other applications. I ended up just disabling the extension in Outlook.
Grammarly Web and Desktop Apps
If you’re using a netbook or other low-performance device, you may run into some issues with Grammarly. The best way to mitigate this is with Grammarly’s app for Windows. If you’re not using Windows, you can do the same thing from your web browser—just log into your Grammarly account and create a new document.
The only downside is that they don’t currently have support for offline documents. It does require an internet connection and automatically saves your document to your online account. I’ve tested the web app on a Chromebook, and it runs perfectly.
Grammarly Premium Features
In the past, Grammarly had quite a few issues with its advanced grammar checker, especially when it came to style and clarity. A lot of those problems have been fixed.
Grammarly is the most accurate checker I’ve used and has made huge improvements since the last time I tried premium. Still not enough to replace a human editor, of course—I doubt our technology will ever quite be able to match an editor’s skills unless we drastically change our existing grammar rules.
The advanced checks that Grammarly Premium adds are well worth the investment.
Genre-specific Style Checks
One of my favorite features of Grammarly is the ability to switch between “styles” or document types. I couldn’t find much documentation on genre checks, but it mostly seems to go off of varying levels of “strictness.” (The current types are General, Casual, Creative, Medical, Technical, Business, and Academic, with 32 different sub-types. I’d love to see some more documentation on the way these work.) Click here for more info on genres.
The only other notable premium feature I found was the vocabulary enhancement. This feature is very situational. You’ll want to keep your audience in mind when using this. For instance, if I see a suggestion for a word that I don’t use in casual, everyday conversation, I don’t use it. My writing style for blog posts is simple, straight-forward, and conversational. The enhancements don’t always fit in.
As mentioned earlier, premium does come with a plagiarism checker, but I don’t have much use for it. Perhaps someone writing an academic paper or for a larger publication would find more use for this—it’s a powerful tool that checks more than 16 billion web pages.
To sum things up, Premium is definitely worth buying for:
- Advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure
- Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
- Genre-specific writing style checks
The fact that I can find a good use for three out of four premium features is a win in my book. Premium is more than worth the annual $139.95. Maybe worth the $29.95 monthly rate, but I still feel that the monthly cost is a bit steep when you could be putting that money towards hiring an editor and just sticking to the free version. I don’t think I would personally pay more than $20 a month for it.
Grammarly is Not a Replacement for Your Editor!
Grammarly is not a replacement for an actual person proofreading and editing your work. Grammarly acts as a sort of coach to improve your own writing, but that’s about it. It doesn’t give you the kind of feedback that a human editor can. However, it’s better than not having an editor at all.
So if you can’t afford an editor right now, but want a second opinion on your work, I recommend getting Grammarly’s annual plan and finding someone who can read over your work. If they’re a writer, you could probably make a trade and edit their work in exchange.
If you do have the money to invest in an editor, do it. But get Grammarly, too. At the very least, try it out and see how much it improves your writing. Ask your editor if they notice any changes as well. Most of the editors I’ve worked with prefer their clients use something like Grammarly. (There are a select few that have some gripes about Grammarly, but the popular opinion seems to be that it does cut back on the number of mistakes they have to correct.) When it comes down to it, if you have to cut costs and choose between a checker and an editor, hire the editor. (I think Grammarly also has their own proofreading service, but I don’t know their rates.)
Yes! Overall, I loved Grammarly premium. I still think the free version checks what most people need it to. If you write on a regular basis, Grammarly premium is a huge help, especially for people looking to improve general grammar and clarity.
Clarity is one thing that Grammarly does well—I threw a few wordy sentences at it, and it was quick to correct them:
Most grammar checkers tend to overdo this (like Word) or don’t check for clarity at all. It still makes suggestions that sound a little weird (like the example above), but you can just make your own edits and go with what sounds more “natural.”
Even if you don’t go with Grammarly Premium, I highly recommend at least installing the free extension. I’ve used the free extension for years, and it does everything I need it to.
But if you’re on the fence about getting Premium, give it a try! If I had to pick one feature that makes Premium worth it, it would have to be the genre-specific checks.
Have you tried Grammarly? I’d love to see your opinion on this tool in the comments. Liked it? Hated it? Let me know your favorite (or least favorite!) feature below.