You know your grammar skills are bad if….
By: Michael Melville
-This is part 1 of a two-part article I am writing. Please keep reading and check back next week for part two-
A while back I got a pretty interesting email from a site web start-up called Grammerly.com. What is Grammarly? Grammarly is a website/app that allows you to check your documents for things such as spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. It also does more advanced things like check for plagiarizing, contextual spell checking, grammar enhancement and according to their site, “scanning your text for proper use of more than 250 advanced grammar rules, spanning everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement.” According to their site and reviews, Grammarly far outpaces, “Word’s grammar and spell-checker by far.” For many writers such as myself we rely heavily on Word’s programming and quiet often…It fails us. The failures must have something to do with why you can integrate Grammarly right into Word. Even Microsoft knows their checker stinks.
At some point in time, the site went through a major upgrade since I last looked and they added more features than what I was aware of. Currently I am using the free version which I just started using this week but I have it integrated into my browser so I can use some features on social media like Twitter and Facebook as well as my Email accounts (all 4 of them) among other places.
The idea behind Grammarly is to make everyone better writers and help us become more aware of how we are writing. For those of us who write professionally or are working towards that goal, our writing is a reflection of who we are, our ability and our products. Horrible grammar, spelling errors and bad punctuation can kill everything from chances at getting a job to selling books.
Now, English class in elementary school through high school wasn’t exactly my favorite or best subject (I blame how it was taught) which is funny since I’m a novelist now. My book editor who has known me since high school once said something along the lines of, “It’s kind of funny you’re an author now since you hated English class”. I either forgot or never quite grasped certain finer points that most people picked up on. Even as an author I cannot blatantly ignore some rules as much as I would like to. Some rules have also changed as I learned in college when it comes to grammar. There are rule changes that many aren’t aware of; perhaps exceptions to the rules would be a better phrase I guess. I will admit that going to college at GVSU has forced me to relearn some of these rules and pay better attention to aspects of my writing I hadn’t for a long time.
For my loyal readers and fans who have read things, I have written for the web or print they are bound to notice some fatal and I’ll admit stupid mistakes I made. I’m notorious for misplaced commas; semicolons and using the wrong form of your/you’re and to/too although I am slowly getting better. There is a reason there is a 4th edition of Running Northwest. Some of my older and worst book reviews on Amazon where I was admonished for my grammar and punctuation are from people who had read the old editions of my first novel. I do blame bad editors I had for those early editions slightly more than my own ignorance.
As I said earlier I got an email a while back from Grammarly.com. In the email, they offered me the chance to test the premium version of the site with access to its full features including the Word function I mentioned. So, I am taking them up on that offer and using it for a very special article. In a post next week right here on Journeys and Life I will put Grammarly to the test using a piece of my own writing that no one has ever seen or read before. What that piece is I will not say yet but I will compare two edited versions of the piece in the article; 1 using just Word 2013 and another version using Grammarly.
The idea for this is to show just how dramatic and how big of a change there is when using Grammarly versus Microsoft Word alone. It also will, in theory, show how much more improved a piece of writing can be by using their site by having a more thorough and streamlined access to some of the finer points of grammar and punctuation among other things. For this little test, the piece I will be using will be completely unedited by either program and 100% raw so I can show just how drastic of a change there might be.
Check back later next week and see what the results are. I am curious and rather excited about this…maybe even nervous.