What’s free and recognizes your biggest mistakes? Grammarly, of course. Many students praise this free English spellchecker as their grades depend upon its red and blue correction lines. Long-time users are also familiar with the taunting yellow lines indicating more mistakes. Premium mistakes. It’s a costly deal for a student. So, should you cave?
If you do, you’ll marvel at the disappearance of the yellow line. Now red, blue, green, and purple lines embellish your text. And you can edit all of them away; how satisfying.
In Premium, the basic spellchecker transforms into an incredible writing assistant. The program suggests complete sentence transformations for more readable texts, which feels like writing-wizardry at times.
You can also tell Grammarly what types of suggestions you want and edit the goal of your text.
However, sometimes Grammarly still misses the mark. It either misses small mistakes or indicates something is a mistake when it isn’t. When you dig deeper, you might discover that something else — sentence structure or the use of non-English idioms — lie at the base of the incorrect suggestions.
The free Grammarly version and Microsoft Word have this problem as well. Is it acceptable for a premium version, though? Grammarly Premium certainly still outperforms those other spellcheckers. And its writing tips do not compare.
Maybe we can give it some slack. We shouldn’t forget the apps and plagiarism checker that provide extra value for your money.
Features, add-ons, and extensions
Most “free” plagiarism checkers only scan the first 1000 words. So, a feature that checks everything at once is every student’s wet dream. And while not free, Grammarly’s plagiarism checker does scan everything at once. It does an okay job at it too.
The program doesn’t differentiate between quotes and wrongly paraphrased text, though. So spitting through all the sections it thinks are plagiarized can get tedious in a long text.
On top of the plagiarism checker, the premium version gives you many exciting apps: a browser extension, a desktop app, a Microsoft Word and Outlook add-on, and a keyboard for mobile.
But again, some problems come to the surface after a while. The desktop app is essentially the same as the in-browser program, so it only adds value if you start using it as your primary word processing program. And the browser extension is helpful, but only if you use English everywhere on the net. Because it will think every word in a foreign language is badly-written English.
If you regularly use Microsoft Word for that, however, the Microsoft Office add-on is fantastic. It transports the complete Grammarly program to your writing and email software. However, it isn’t always as extensive as the desktop app and misses many more mistakes.
It seems there is always a negative to its best features. That would be no problem if it were a free program, but now it comes with a cost.
A monthly try-out amounts to about 26 euros (editor’s note: billed in dollars). A quarterly subscription is 51 euros. For 122 euros, you can type away on Grammarly for a whole year. Sadly, for most students, those prices outweigh Grammarly Premium’s best features. Especially because they all come with an unfortunate flaw.
‘It’s a consideration between your money and a few points more’
If you only need a spellchecker, the free version of Grammarly is still able to filter out most of your mistakes. Also, Grammarly has a free blog that is immensely helpful for understanding tricky grammar rules.
What about a one-time monthly purchase right before your deadlines? For some, this might be the way to go, as the plagiarism checker and writing advice are still great features. It’s a consideration between your money and a few points more.
In the end, the yellow line wins either way.
Text and picture: © Lisa Poppe