Grammarly vs MS Word: A Spelling and Grammar Check Duel
By Michael Melville
Here a quick recap from part 1 of this post in case you didn’t catch it. I was given the chance by the Online Partnership Team over at Grammarly to test out the premium version of their proofreading web application. They were looking for writing focused bloggers to help get the word out about their internet startup. Since I am an author with a writing-focused blog, I answered the call.
The basic Grammarly app finds in-depth grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. The Premium version does even more and offers much more insight into just about anything someone is writing. The basic free app can connect with my browser so it can be used in most social media, emails and also includes my blog site (so now I really have no excuse). So no need for opening other apps or windows. It also gives you the ability to upload Docs to the web app for a thorough editing.
The premium version allows users to use Grammarly within Microsoft Word and provides the added benefits of examining things like sentence structure, style, vocabulary enhancement and also that dreaded plagiarism. These are all things that any writer, of any style creative or professional need to keep in mind while writing. Having these helpful options so close at hand seems wonderfully convenient.
The idea behind this offer was to show just how valuable the Grammarly app is at helping writers of all levels improve their writing. Many people myself included use Microsoft Word for writing purposes, and we are all well aware of the flaws in that program. It just doesn’t catch things it should or help in the ways we need it to sometimes. Grammarly is looking to change all that.
So, for this post I will be comparing portions of one unedited document using just Microsoft Word for proofreading. Then I will do it again with the same unedited text using the Premium version of Grammarly so we all can see the results. The document I am editing will end up on Journeys and Life as a new post, so this version doesn’t include any pictures, headings and hyperlinks that will end up in the final version. I did my best to keep the document down to a single page so I could screenshot it all on one picture.
Now, as you can see from the picture above, my raw doc is very…colorful. For this test with the Word doc, I’m going to focus on the LAST three paragraphs for editing. Now as you can see below there are many issues with this that MS Word flagged. These issues range from spelling, punctuation errors, non-existent words, contractions, wordiness. As I began checking and making changes, I noticed right away MS Word was missing somethings. One of them being contextual spelling and not picking up some erroneous words that it should have.
MICROSOFT WORD GRAMMAR AND SPELL CHECK
Final MS Word version
Now as you can see Word did a somewhat adequate job of checking this portion of the document. One thing that it kept alerting me to was contractions. Some I changed and some I didn’t. I happen to like contractions for the most part, so I kept a few. One thing that Word did not and does not take into account was style and vocabulary enhancement which is a flaw. Something like that is helpful I think. There were also a few punctuation suggestions that didn’t seem right so I looked it up, and the suggestion by Word was indeed wrong. BAD MICROSOFT. I am sure if I let someone else go over this they would no doubt find other things that could be changed.
Now let’s get to the proofread with Grammarly Premium, which again I will be using the same document and same last three paragraphs of that document. To save room I won’t show the full original document again so if you need a look scroll up. Also, I didn’t screenshot every instance where I changed something. I just chose a few select parts, so you have a visual of where I was in process or to show something very specific I was fixing.
GRAMMARLY GRAMMAR AND SPELL CHECK
Right off the bat I noticed several things that Grammarly picked up that MS Words spelling and grammar check missed. I marked many of them in yellow.
The picture below shows one of the things that Grammarly does that Word does not. It lets me know when I overuse a word or use and overused words and offers me suggestions. This feature helps with one of my issues which is being redundant. It also gives this post a better range of vocabulary.
Wordiness is one of those issues I have that I both love and hate. I really have no issue being wordy, but I know in certain circumstances (like in college) I was knocked a few points on occasion for being “verbose”. Grammarly lets me know where and gives me an idea on how to fix it. This sentence in the end was broken up and rewritten.
Another example of my rushed typing at 2am and Grammarly’s brilliance. MS Word missed this word entirely since it was actual spelled right, but it was the wrong word. Grammarly’s contextual spell checker picked up on it right away.
Step 4 Final
Here is the final Grammarly version of the last three paragraphs.
Perhaps I am slightly bitter about MS Word’s spelling and grammar check. Perhaps I am irked that it let me down one too many times while in college. Perhaps I am intrigued but the shiny newness of Grammarly. I will point out that even Grammarly says their app does not entirely replace a proofreader, but I think it is darn close….
The big selling point for me with Grammarly was being able to use it in my browser on web pages. Now, I think using Grammarly in MS Word is a game changer for people who have a need for help with issues relating to grammar, punctuation, and similar issues. As a novelist, I think it is worth the money to have the added access to Grammarly in MS Word. Even using MS Words checker in tandem with Grammarly you cannot go wrong. Visually the app is very easy to read, use and guides you step by step as you proof. The explanations are much clearer than MS Words. It is what Word wishes it could be and its a lot easier than flipping through pages of multiple grammar guides looking for explanations, answers and examples that make sense.
One downfall I found was the plagiarism helper. It kept pulling up seemingly random websites where only a few of the words I wrote matched what it found on the web. It lists the site and highlights the suspect text in the document. I think this is a nice feature but needs some work somehow. Alerting a user to possible plagiarism is imperative but so far this feature gives more false positives than anything else; at least from what I have seen. With all the information on the web, I do not think a few matching words in a few sentences constitutes plagiarism. I can just see some poor college student citing fifty websites that have nothing to do with what they are writing because the app told them they should. There also seemed to be a connectivity issue when using the Grammarly app in MS Word. It cut out occasionally. I have not yet had the chance to use this app for writing a research paper for college so that will be interesting to see when I do. Below is an example from a previously published short story of mine to show an example of the plagiarism error.
When Grammarly first contacted me, they told they wanted to get the word out about their new startup in an effort to make writing on the internet better. From what I have seen so far I think they are well on their way. I’ll admit, despite what I had heard about Grammarly.com I was skeptical. It is just my nature. I was proven wrong repeatedly. I would highly suggest every serious writer use this app. Whether you are using it for school, for professional writing or creative writing it does help a lot. While using this demo, I learned a lot about my weak and strong points as a writer. Not only did it help me fix my mistakes it is helping me learn from them, so I do not make as many errors while I am writing, and really I think that is the goal.
My biggest issue
Another downfall with Grammarly is the cost. It is a subscription service for the Premium version but regardless of the plan you choose you pay for it all upfront which I find to be inconvenient and not very cost friendly.
The monthly plan runs $29.95 which is rather pricey for a per month cost I think.
The quarterly plan isn’t bad but for some of my writing friends or fellow college students $59.95 at once is a big hit.
I wish the annual plan was offered on a billed montly basis becouse this is the one I would choose. The $11.66 per month is doable but having it all billed at once ($139.95) is not feasable at all.
I think Grammarly offers a solid and useful product. Moreover it appears to work wonderfully but in this day and age having a good price point is just as important as having a great product. Its on the issue of price that I think Grammarly is falling short a little and pricing themselves out of a larger market. I will note that if you use Grammarly for any sort of professional use (professional writing) that the costs should be tax deductible in the USA.