Grammarly, Saving Writers One Red (Or Yellow) Line At A Time

review of grammarly
Some people seem like born editors.

Take my mom for instance. The woman isn’t a trained editor, and she never finished college — but she can spot a typo from across the room! I wish I’d inherited my mom’s innate knack for editing. Instead, I have to work on improving my writing abilities daily.

Despite my best efforts, mistakes DO happen. No writer is above typos and grammatical errors, and an entire industry exists because of it! At the end of the day, no matter how amazing a writer you are, you’re highly likely to be blind to your own errors. I’ve found myself making errors despite reading through articles SEVERAL times. I can tell you that early in my career, the editing process was slow and aggravating.

Thankfully, I found Grammarly. This digital editor sped up my editing process, helped me avoid making THOUSANDS of grammatical errors, and spared me countless headaches.

review of grammarly


Grammarly is a free grammar checking app launched in 2009 by Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko. I myself didn’t become aware of Grammarly‘s existence until 2014, by which time I was more than a year into my freelance writing career. I can honestly go back and look at my old work (but I hate too…so much CRINGE!) and notice a marked improvement from the moment I started using this powerful app.

Not only did Grammarly ably point out mistakes in my writing, but as time passed, I was also less prone to making certain errors. My biggest grammar faux pax prior to this grammar checker? It’s a toss up between wordy sentences and passive voice.


How Grammarly Works

Grammarly is an “automated proofreader” that typically works by checking your content for errors as you type. Compare that to certain other tools where you can’t adequately check for errors until AFTER you’ve typed a certain amount of content.

error test

The app will catch at least 150 grammar mistakes. As you can see, it easily identifies typos. Critical mistakes get underlined with a red line. However, other grammar errors get highlighted in yellow. More on that later.

grammarly passive voice fail

True story. I could not write in passive voice to save my life. Yay?

Grammarly identifies mistakes differently according to which version of the app you happen to be using. For instance, because I have the Grammarly Chrome extension, a little green circle appears at the bottom of text windows.

grammarly circle

Mini Grammarly error notification

Thanks to this handy tool, whether I’m working in WordPress or tweeting, Grammarly is constantly at work, saving me from embarrassing myself all over the Internet.


The Grammarly Website App

If you’re not on Chrome or just don’t want to use the extension, you can also visit Grammarly directly to make edits. It gives you the option of opening a new document and copy/pasting (CTRL + V) your text or uploading content from your computer.

Grammarly website


grammarly document

Blank Grammarly document


Aside from copy and pasting or uploading text, you can also create content in the app from scratch.


Get Grammarly On Your Desktop

A native desktop version of the Grammarly app is available for Windows. It’s also available for editing in Microsoft Office.

It’s worth noting there’s no add-in for MS Word or Pages for OS X users available at present. Additionally, to use the desktop app, you must be logged in to your account. When I turned off my Internet connection to see if the desktop app would still work, I got this message:

No Internet? No Grammarly desktop app.


That isn’t too surprising as the app is cloud-based. Still, it would be nice to use the app offline. (Note: I’m not using Microsoft Office, so I don’t know if the extension works offline. If you use the extension in Microsoft Office, feel free to give me a head’s up about whether or not it works in the comments!)


No Smartphone Apps?

Anyone who’s had to deal with the nightmare of existing auto-correct tools would probably LOVE a version of the app for their smartphones. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a version of Grammarly available for either Android or iPhone users. That’s a curious decision because rival Ginger (who I’ll be reviewing at a later date), does indeed have a well-received app available. I just checked Ginger’s website, and their app is available for nearly everything.

I hope Grammarly makes a move towards smartphone apps; the last time I used Ginger, I found it to be inferior in practically every way.


Free Version vs. Paid Version

Just how good is Grammarly when you aren’t paying for it? Well, that depends on your point of view. While Grammarly is free to use and catches all sorts of errors, there are mistakes which aren’t specifically identified in the free version.

Remember those yellow errors I mentioned earlier? If you have a free account, Grammarly only tells you two things:

  • The number of those type of mistakes lurking in your text
  • How many of each kind of mistake you made

It WILL NOT identify particular grammar errors such as passive voice, “wordy” sentences, or any other type of error typically underlined in yellow for paying users. Instead, you have to go line by line to try and identify the mistake. You’ll only know if you’re right if the number in the yellow circle decreases.

Making matters more complicated, Grammarly doesn’t know whether or not you intended to make a mistake, so any intentional grammatical rule-breaking gets flagged, too.

To get the most out of Grammarly, you’ll want to upgrade to a paid account. How much that will cost depends on which plan you choose.

Currently, I’m using the Monthly plan:

plans for subscribers


I’ve used Grammarly’s Monthly and Quarterly plans. Although I’m back using the Monthly plan for after temporarily dropping Grammarly (needed the extra money to buy something else), I’ll probably be upgrading back to the Quarterly plan soon. I prefer this plan because I only get charged once every three months and save some money.

Some might prefer the annual plan because it’s definitely the cheapest plan in the long run. How cheap? While the annual option costs $139.55 in one sitting, paying for Grammarly month to month will run you $359.40 per year!

That represents a savings of about 60 percent!

Mind = Blown

Although I  think Grammarly is one of the best investments that writers can make, I do understand feeling wary about spending too much money. Luckily, Grammarly is (again) free to use. You’ll just have to work a little bit harder to catch certain grammatical errors — which is the point of self-editing anyway, amirite?


Grammarly Quirks

Sadly, no app is perfect, and even Grammarly has its quirks. For instance, it has a habit of reminding you about non-errors that you told it to ignore every time it finds new errors it wants you to correct. That tends to skew the actual score — a 0-100 number offered based on the amount of mistakes identified in your writing.

There’s also the British English vs. American English issue that can arise. It tends to default to British English (at least it did for me), marking your grammar as faulty if you use a “z” instead of an “s” or forget to insert a “u” into individual words. I think Grammarly should trust that Americans and Brits know when they intend to use these letters and just assume that if it happens consistently throughout a paper, it was done entirely on purpose.

That would save them the trouble of even needing the option to select American or British English.


The Final Verdict

As I’ve said, I’ve been a fan of Grammarly for years now. I’ve used the free version and the paid version, and I’m intimately aware of the impact this one app has had one my freelance writing career. I won’t lie and say it’s a perfect app, but then no writer worth their salt should resist conscious editing of their materials.

Did I use Grammarly to edit this review? Yes, yes I did. Is there a possibility that there might be an error or two that both the app and I missed? Also yes. To be human is to be fallible; to be a writer means to be vulnerable to the failure to express yourself with 100 percent flawless diction at every waking moment of your life!

Because such a vulnerability exists and will continue to exist for the duration of humankind, I say Grammarly is an excellent ally for writers to have.

Are you a fan of Grammarly, or do you prefer another grammar checking tool? Share YOUR take on the app below!

Disclosure: This is an affiliate review containing affiliate-related links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.

About the Author

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Defend The Pen
Defend The Pen is a website dedicated to reporting the latest writing news and blogging about ongoing trends that impact writers. It also hopes to be of help to writers and bloggers who find themselves at the ends of their collective ropes!

4 Comments on "Grammarly, Saving Writers One Red (Or Yellow) Line At A Time"

  1. Great review on Grammarly i would implode without it!

  2. I have been using GRAMMARLY for at least 2 years now and I friggin’ love it! I couldn’t imagine my life without it!

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