Grammarly Review: Can This AI-Powered Writing Tool Up Your Game This Year?

Writing tools help find the obvious grammar mistakes. But they're also beneficial for crafting clearer offers and boosting sales. Here's why.

Sean Brison by Sean Brison | Last Updated: March 19, 2021

Looking to become a better writer (so you can sidestep that awkward grammatically incorrect memo you sent a colleague)? One trick is finding a suitable writing tool. This Grammarly review explains how to get the most out of its features (even if you’re not a professional scribbler).

What Is Grammarly?

Grammarly is an AI-powered writing tool that finds your grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. But, it also provides stylistic suggestions such as your text’s clarity, delivery, and tone.

You can use it on various platforms, from desktop app to browser extensions to mobile keyboards.

Grammarly offers both free and paid versions. The idea being you’ll use its free service and eventually upgrade. The app has 30 million users and over 34,000 positive Chrome store reviews.

How Does Grammarly Work?

Grammarly uses artificial intelligence (AI) systems that combine machine learning with natural language processing (NLP).

Machine learning teaches algorithms to carry out tasks that essentially learn from experience (or by “doing”). NLP is another branch of AI that teaches computers to comprehend human language. And, on a deeper level, understand its meaning. 

A Look into AI: One way Grammarly uses AI is by showing its systems patterns of correct and incorrect grammar usage from a massive text corpus, to learn and improve.

Getting Started with Grammarly

You can create your account by heading to Grammarly.com and downloading the app. Or by visiting the Chrome store and installing the web browser extension.

Adding the browser extension makes the most sense if you spend a lot of time online. It gives you quick access to its tools.

It works with:

I’ll walk you through how to get set up on Chrome (but similar setups are available when using another web browser).

Head to Grammarly.com.

grammarly review featuring homepage with add chrome extension cta

 

When you click the “Add to Chrome” button, you’re taken to the Chrome store for installation.

When downloading completes, you’ll see a green “G” icon in your browser’s menu bar:

menu bar with the grammarly extension added

 

To get started using the extension with one of the other browsers, head to Grammarly’s tips and tutorials section.

Once it’s set up in your browser and start typing, you’ll see a spinning “G” icon in the lower right corner of your screen:

grammarly spinning g example in your document

 

The number within that circle indicates the number of suggestions Grammarly made.

If you want to adjust or disable specific settings, click the green “G” icon in your menu bar (more on that below)

Your Grammarly Settings: Double-Click Words to See Synonyms & Definitions

When you double click a word inside any doc, Grammarly shows synonyms of that word to help with your writing:

double-clicking a word to get its synonym from within your doc

 

It’s beneficial when you’re editing because you can find alternative words inside your doc without needing to open or jump between tabs (e.g., your thesaurus).

When you’re reading any website online, if you encounter an unknown word, double-click it, and Grammarly displays its definition:

example of double-clicking a word to get its definition when reading online

 

You’ll also get phrasal predictions from Grammarly. It can anticipate what it thinks you’ll write in certain instances:

example of a phrasal prediction when writing in a document

 

Here, it added the term “using a thesaurus” based on words I’d previously written.

From the “G” icon in your menu bar, you can adjust all of these settings, including:

Just click the “G” icon in your menu bar to enable or disable specific settings as shown below:

grammarly settings appearing from drop down menu when clicking the g icon in menu bar

 

Sidenote: You can also set your English preference from your dashboard to American, British, Canadian, or Australian. It’s currently unavailable in other languages and offers no translation features.

where you find the language preferences inside the dashboard

 

Disable the spell checker when writing your rough draft. You’ll see too much distracting “red ink,” which can disrupt your writing flow. See below screenshot example:

displaying how grammarly makes suggestions in your doc when writing

 

Above sample of how your draft will look with the spell check left “on.” It’s a good idea to turn it off until you’re ready to edit.

Grammarly Features

Grammarly has a few admirable features that deserve closer attention. Read on for more examples of what its tools can do for your writing. 

Tone Detector

The tone detector makes suggestions based on your word choice, phrasing, punctuation, and capitalization. It’ll help you spot mistakes before you send a message.

In the below screenshot, the tone detector makes suggestions and asks if I want to sound less negative and more confident based on my phrasing.

how the grammarly review tone detector shows you if you're striking the right tone

 

Grammarly’s formatting is reader-friendly with highlighted suggestions using soft colors (e.g., light purple for its tone detector).

Its AI systems are intuitive. Grammarly draws from a vast pool of emotions, from angry to unassuming to optimistic.

It’ll call you out if your writing sounds too informal or if your tone matches your “academic” goal: 👇

various emoji emotions for the kinds of tones it detects

 

It helps improve your content’s readability.

Grammar Checker

The grammar checking tool accompanying the Free plan covers basic grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and punctuation errors.

However, with the Premium version, you’ll see the added benefits of:

It underlines all of the grammar suggestions in red, blue, green, and purple in your Google doc.

Clicking any of those underlined words prompts you to Grammarly’s recommendations to take action.

Sidenote: The different colors signify specific suggestions. For example, “red” for correctness or “blue” for clarity.

The below example, clicking the green box reading “The fluency,” will automatically correct it in your doc.

how you can correct a suggestion from inside the grammarly app when writing

 

You can also click:

additional suggestions you can set like incorrect suggestions or offensive content

 

Tip: If you only want to edit a specific part of your content, e.g., you want to edit the “Clarity” recommendations, click “Clarity,” and Grammarly will only show you those suggestions.

However, this only seems to work while editing in the app and not in the Google doc. See the in-app screenshot below.

focusing on a specific suggestions set such as clarity

 

Bottom Line: When trying to compel your readers to action, your words matter. If you’re writing is full of typos or you’re unable to communicate exactly what you want from them (e.g., sign up to your newsletter or start a free trial), you’re leaving money on the table.

That’s why a writing tool is a massive help when it’s time to put pen to paper.

 

Plagiarism Checker (to Ensure Your Work Is Original)

When writing inside the Grammarly app, you can check your work using its plagiarism checker found in the lower right corner of your screen.

where you can find the plagiarism checker in the app

 

It runs your content through over 16 billion web pages and academic papers stored in ProQuest’s database.

When a portion of your work matches text from other sources, you’ll get an alert with a link to the source article.

how the plagiarism checker displays in the app for this grammarly review

 

Unfortunately, you’ll have to upgrade to the Premium plan to gain access to this tool.

Grammarly Online Writing Assistant

Grammarly is an AI-powered writing tool that finds your grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. But it also provides stylistic suggestions such as your text's clarity, delivery, and tone. You can use it on your desktop app, as a browser extension, and on mobile keyboards. Plans include both free and paid versions.

Upgrade My Writing Affiliate Program
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Sidenote: The above Grammarly box uses a Lasso display to promote an affiliate link. We’ve found using custom affiliate link displays to endorse products we use and recommend increases our readers’ “click confidence.”

Human Proofreading

If you need additional help and prefer to hire an editor, Grammarly has a “Get Expert Writing Help” option you can tick at the lower right corner of your screen.

choices and pricings for hiring a human proofreader

 

It’s a bit pricier, so it depends on your needs. You can choose between basic grammar and spelling help, or, for a little more money, you can get help with your writing’s conciseness too.

Insight: In my experience, Grammarly’s Clarity feature helps make my writing easier to read without needing to hire human proofreaders. However, if I were using this service, I’d choose the “Correctness and Clarity” option.

You can get something proofread in as little as six hours or as long as three days. It’s up to you.

Plans & Pricing 

You’ll have several plans to choose from, but typically, they fall into either:

Free Version

The free version includes basic grammar mistakes, a spell checker, punctuation, and conciseness. It’s for the person on the go only worried about catching simple grammatical errors.

Sidenote: If you’re a writer in any capacity (e.g., you’re a blogger or run an affiliate site), I highly recommend upgrading to the Premium plan. You’ll get advanced suggestions not found anywhere else.

For example, if you frequently forget to add commas, this plan’s for you.

Grammarly Premium Version

The premium version has everything the free plan has, plus a whole lot more. The robust sidebar functionality includes four additional categories labeled:

Plus, it confirms whether you’ve plagiarized existing content by cross-checking your writing against 16 billion web pages.

You’ll know your writing’s formality level, so if you’re writing for work, it’ll check that. For example, here’s how it looks in action:

your formality level when writing and how grammarly detects it

 

Grammarly also does its best to ensure your writing sounds like a native English-speaker wrote it by gauging its fluency level (even if you’re not one).

Using Grammarly with Google Docs

To enable Grammarly in your Google doc, click the “G” icon in the lower right corner of your screen.

where to find the spinning g icon inside your doc for this grammarly review

 

Once you click it, a sidebar appears on the right side of your screen:

how grammarly appears inside google docs for this grammarly review

 

After you enable it, you can adjust your writing goals by clicking the bullseye icon:

the bullseye icon lets you set your writing goals in the upper right corner of the screen

 

Then, choose your goals:

displaying all of the goal types you can set

 

This feature is beneficial for matching the tone of a specific audience.

You can choose:

There’s also a floating sidebar you can place anywhere. Click the “G” icon while writing in places like Gmail, and it’ll appear:

how you can move the grammarly floating side bar

 

Grammarly Business Version

The business version makes the most sense for teams. It has the same features as the Premium version with added perks like Style Guides.

Style Guides keep your team communicating in the same language (i.e., using the same shared terms unique to your brand) and your messaging consistent.

For example, if your company name is misspelled, Grammarly will suggest you correct it as it does here:

how a style guide keeps your messaging in sync

 

The business version also creates rules for your team, so you don’t confuse customers with work jargon. You can explain your reasons for including it in the style guide too.

where you can write the rules for your style guide

 

Once you create the style guide, you’ll get data-driven reporting of how readers interact with your team’s communication.

where you can see your data from using the style guide and metrics

 

The Style Guide appears on the right side of your screen for easy access.

where to find the style guide inside the app

 

Grammarly@edu

This program tailors to schools and academic institutions. If your organization exceeds 20 members, you’ll have to contact Grammarly for a quote.

Its pricing plans list 20 members as the threshold, which caps at $1,200 annually.

The @edu offers:

Grammarly Desktop Apps

You can get Grammarly for your desktop if you prefer not to access it through your browser. Head to the homepage and download the app for Mac.

Use Microsoft Word On Your Mac

Grammarly has a Microsoft Word feature for Mac which you’ll need to install as a Grammarly add-on.

Microsoft Office

You can get the add-in for Microsoft Word if you’re a Windows user. You’ll simply open a Word Document, then:

Suggestions appear in both Word or Outlook.

Grammarly Browser Extensions

If you prefer using your web browser, Grammarly works on:

For a list of other places it works, head to the homepage.

Grammarly Keyboard for Your Mobile Device

Scan the QR code with your phone, and Grammarly integrates across every app. You can download it from the App Store for Mac or Google Play for Android users.

how you can scan the qr code with your mobile phone

FAQs

A few of the most common questions answered for you upon further reviewing Grammarly’s features.

Is Grammarly Safe?

Yes, Grammarly is safe. Your writing is protected, and they adhere to several regulatory guidelines. You can read the full details on its Security page or its Privacy Policy.

Also, Grammarly:

Is Grammarly a Keylogger?

Grammarly isn’t a keylogger. A keylogger records every keystroke you make, which hackers use to steal personal data. Grammarly doesn’t record every keystroke. It only accesses your writing when you use a Grammarly product. And it avoids information marked “sensitive.”

Is Grammarly Free?

Grammarly does offer a free version of its tool. You’ll get basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation alerts. If you’re impressed, you can upgrade to its Premium or Business plan.

What’s the Difference Between Grammarly Premium and Business?

Premium is for individuals looking to improve their writing skills with Grammarly’s style suggestions, clarity improvements, and advanced corrections. Business is for teams who want to stay on-brand with a unified message and clear communication.

How Much Does Grammarly Cost?

Grammarly’s base plan is free. You’ll get alerts including spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Its next level up, Premium, starts at $11.66 monthly, while its Business plan for teams costs $12.50 per member per month.

Grammarly Alternatives

If you’re not sold with Grammarly’s premium features, you can always check out other players in the industry. Below are a few other recommendations from professional writers.

Ginger

Ginger is a writing app that works on multiple platforms, has browser extensions for Chrome and Safari, and an Android keyboard.

While it fixes your grammatical mistakes and features a sentence rephrasing tool, it also has a text-to-speech feature, that reads aloud text in a document as a native speaker would say it.

It also has a translate feature with access to over forty languages.

It’s handy for non-native speakers. It comes with a free plan, and then you’ll have to upgrade to a paid version (starting at $19.99 per month) for enhanced functionality. The downside is there’s no app for Mac users.

Whitesmoke

Whitesmoke lets you check your work and find typos, spelling mistakes and analyze sentence structure. It has a translation feature that interprets full text and word-to-mouth translation to and from 55 languages (helpful for non-native speakers).

They don’t have a free version, but there’s a 3-day full version trial. Plans start at $5 per month, and you have to pay for either an annual or three-year billing.

One downside is their plagiarism detector is credit-based, meaning you have to pay for more once you exceed your 500 credit allowance.

ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid is a style editor, grammar checker, and teacher in one. You can get the free Chrome extension (also plays nice with Safari, Edge, or Firefox). It integrates with MS Word and Outlook, Google docs, Scrivener, Open Office, and Final Draft.

Its reporting feature highlights writing cliches, wordiness, and vagueness.

One downside is that it also charges you credits for using its plagiarism checker, starting at $10 for ten inquiries.

Its pricing is slightly less than Grammarly, starting at $20 per month.

Is Grammarly Worth It?

If you’re wondering whether Grammarly is for you, let’s recap what’s good and bad about them so you can decide for yourself.

What’s to Like

What’s Not to Like

Final Thoughts

If you’re blogging or writing regularly, the premium version mentioned in this Grammarly review may be what you need. If you want to become a better writer, this tool will help. If you’d like to find out more about their affiliate program, head here.

Sean Brison
Sean Brison is a dad, writer, business owner, and Chief Growth nerd at Lasso. He's spent the past several years in cahoots with Lasso's founder, Andrew, creating awesome things for people. He's also addicted to perfectly-balanced cocktails, the outdoors, and John Mulaney's stand-up comedy.

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