Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Grammarly Premium

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because they offered me $20 to try out their Premium service on my original 8/3/13. About 9 months later I received an email from the Grammarly rep I worked with noting:

"Would you mind removing the link to Grammarly from the sponsored blog post we worked on together? It's been brought to my attention that Google's Webmaster Guidelines don't approve of sponsored posts that include links to the sponsoring site."

Earlier this week, someone from Grammarly emailed me and asked if I'd be willing to allow them to sponsor a blog post in exchange for a $20 Amazon gift card. After a couple of emails back and forth, I decided that I'd go ahead. My son is dying for a water bottle rocket, and what better way to use an unexpected gift card than on something your kiddo really wants?

Before I agreed to allow them to sponsor my blog post, I did some research and was disappointed to see that they were asking for a credit card number to activate the free trial. Luckily, they didn't do that with me. They simply set me up with a username and password, and I was ready to put Grammarly through the paces.





After logging in, I was taken into the Grammarly program, where I can copy / paste or enter text to review for spelling and grammar errors.

40 of 100? Grammarly is very kind.
I decided to type a poorly written sentence to start out. I typed: "I definately love cHocolatechip Cooqies." It caught all of the misspellings and offered suggestions on how to fix them. To the left of the text box, there is a rating system based on the errors that were found. This sentence earned a score of 40 of 100. I'd have given it a much lower score, but that's just me. I'm a hard ass like that. So far, so good.

Checking for plagiarism.
The next feature I wanted to explore was the plagiarism checker. This is a valid concern for a writer. I like the idea of being able to upload my text and see if it's floating around on the internet without my permission. I know there are other programs that perform this function, but I thought I'd see if Grammarly worked for it as well. I copied and pasted my last blog post into the text box and hit the plagiarism button...

Gotcha!
It didn't take the program long to identify that I copied and pasted something directly from another website. All of the text that was plagiarized was highlighted in red and a window popped up encouraging me to credit the source(s). Very, very good! But a blog post is easy. I wanted to see what would happen if I checked text from one of my previously published e-books


Hmm.
I copied and pasted the text of an entire e-book and clicked the button. The result it kicked back was disheartening to say the least. Out of 3,736 words, only 2% of the document--the disclaimer--came up as plagiarized. I decided to remove the disclaimer and run the check again.

Not Good.
Nope. It came up as 100% original. This book can be found all over the place: Amazon, Smashwords, All Romance...Seriously, it's everywhere. Maybe because it wasn't published on a blog or website it didn't recognize the text as stolen. This isn't Grammarly's primary function, but I do feel that if they're going to offer a plagiarism function, it should at least identify eBooks. 


As far as the quality of the grammar checker goes, it's pretty basic. It notes the same things that my word processor notes. In some cases, it flags things that are correct or that fit within the context and writing style. In the above image, Grammarly had a problem with the sentence: "Isabel felt heat and moisture rise between her legs." and suggested I change it to "Isabel felt the heat..." I wholeheartedly disagree. I left that article out of the sentence because writing it that way perfectly expressed what was happening to sweet Isabel.

My overall impression is that Grammarly is easy to use, but that it's not much better than the grammar and spell check in my word processor. I could see it being a huge help to someone who doesn't have a basic grasp of grammar rules or who has a hard time writing, and it might be great for students who are trying to write a paper for a class, but it's just not right for me. If I, as a professional writer, incorporated all of Grammarly's suggestions, my writing would be stiff, too formal, and no fun to read.


While I've had a lot of fun playing with Grammarly, I think I'll stick with my word processor's functions. They're free and I don't have to copy / paste anything.

Have you used Grammarly? What do you think of it?