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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Grammarly: A New Option for Proofreading

It is 1:00 in the morning. Half-asleep, you robotically tap out that final sentence of an essay for History class. Wanting no more than to hit PRINT and call it a day (or should I say, call it a night), you forgo proofreading and collapse into bed. Inevitably, your paper is returned to you with a plethora of errors circled in red ink.

Proofreading is important; we’ve all known that since the third-grade. But it’s boring and time-consuming- some of the most dreaded adjectives for teenagers. What’s more, even when we do proofread our work, we often miss our own errors.

Enter Grammarly: an free, online proofreading and plagiarism checker established in 2009. Grammarly is essentially the BMW of spellcheckers; simply paste your text into the site and it will check for over 250 different kinds of grammar mistakes. Then, with the click of a mouse, users can correct the mistakes.
With Grammarly, never again.
Curious as to whether Grammarly would yield the promising results advertised by its webpage, I uploaded several of my old essays into the program.

Grammarly proved to be, overall, a positive experience. It was, however, a bit 
alarming to see the many mistakes I had made in my old work that neither my teacher nor I had caught. Grammarly drew my attention to several types of errors that are overlooked by Microsoft Word Spell Check. Firstly, Grammarly will attack those pesky usage errors. Though the sentence, “I loose my cellphone all the time” will make it through Microsoft Word (since “loose” is a word, just not the correct word in this context) Grammarly will consider the context of the sentence and suggest the correct word (lose).

Grammarly also knows what phrases should be hyphenated; I learned that, for example, middle-class should be hyphenated (another thing that my teacher didn’t notice either). This is another thing that won’t be addressed by Microsoft Spell Check.

One mistake I make at an alarming frequency: writing the same word twice without noticing. Grammarly found this sentence in my paper, “The city tried to contain the expansion of African American living space, in part, by using densely packed, centrally located high high rise public housing.” You know, sometimes you begin a sentence, get distracted by a shiny object, return to the sentence and forgot where you left off. It happens. A lot. And even if I do proofread, I never catch the the pesky Repeated Word (see what I did there?). Grammarly offers an easy and clear method for correcting errors such as this.
Is this relevant? Probably not. Do I like the idea of dinosaurs talking about grammar? Why yes, yes I do.
Grammarly is also set apart by its brief description of each mistake. If you confuse to and too, Grammarly won’t just correct the issue but also provide a quick blurb illustrating the correct usage for the two words. That way, you are less likely to make the same mistake twice.  

Grammarly is technically a free service (just make an account), however, many of the more sophisticated capabilities are reserved for those who would like to pay $29.00 a month for premium membership. With the premium package, Grammarly will analyze your writing for poor vocabulary choice, poor sentence structure, wordiness, and use of passive voice. According to its website, Grammarly helps its users “Write better, period.” Well, I don’t believe that that statement is entirely accurate. After all, the functions that actually improve the level and style of one’s writing are only available for the Premium customers. If you struggle with stylistic choices, purchasing Grammarly premium might be a good investment for you. Though in my experience, improving the style of one’s writing usually comes from both practice and guided revision, rather than from a website.

Regardless, making a free Grammarly account is certainly worthwhile for students seeking a more comprehensive version of Microsoft Spell Check. So during your next 1:00 a.m. drafting party, remember: with Grammarly, an error-free essay and imminent sleep is just a few clicks away. 
You did it! Now you can dream about an A+ essay!
Post by Allie C., Homework Assistant

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