Grammarly: A Fix for Broken Online Writing?

The web is often blamed for the prevailing language decay and plagiarism we see today. Thanks to Facebook, and Twitter, internet slang usage is on the rise. People write “dnt” instead of “don’t” and “wer” instead “where” thinking “tat tey r” saving their valuable time. Most of us utterly disregard punctuation and proper verbiage.

Hank Moody, once rightly quipped,

Internet is a medium for a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with other bunch of stupid people with a pseudo language which is much worse than what the Caveman used to speak.

I once worked with a guy who wrote, “I hv wrked on…” on his official resume. This got me to into thinking, are we truly addicted to the Internet slang that we can’t keep it out of our professional lives anymore? I was looking for a way out, and then I stumbled upon Grammarly. It promises to save us out of this misery. Can that even be possible? That is exactly what we are going to find out today.

Getting Started

Author’s Note: To be fair, Grammarly is not the silver bullet and it won’t automatically fix up the Internet in one day. However, it does help those of us who don’t want to look a fool during a presentation with a client or during a high paying interview.

Getting Started

Getting Started

Grammarly is an online grammar checker, proofreading, and plagiarism checking service. It offers a 7 day evaluation period during which you can dive into the system and see if it suits your needs, but the catch is you need to enter your Credit Card details upfront. After you get past the initial pains of setting up, getting started is really easy.

Interface

Interface is similar to any word processor

Once you login into your account, you’re presented with an interface very similar to a normal word processor. Paste your writing inside the app and hit Start Review. Grammarly then analyzes your text for spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, subject-verb agreement, and many other grammatical rules with their algorithm, and spits out the results.

Decoding the results

Summary

Summary

The errors found in your text are neatly listed as a summary on the right side panel for a quick review. On the main screen, the errors are highlighted in red with a short and long explanation for each. For obvious issues like misspelling, suggestions are listed out. In case of any grammatical errors, the nature of the issue is explained with an example.

Score

A tangible score does help

When you just see a few random errors here and there on your manuscript, it is really difficult to measure the overall quality. Saying that you have 10 errors on a 20000-word long technical documentation is one thing, and giving out a measurable score is another. Grammarly helps you analyze the overall quality of your article rather than just the errors. Whether you’re student preparing an essay for your SAT or a professional writer, this is for you.

Accuracy

Language processing is an extremely complicated chapter in the Big book of Computers. English wasn’t conjured in one day. It took thousands of years, like any other thing in this world, to evolve into the language that it is today. It is extremely difficult to make a machine understand the nuances of the language, when half the English speaking population don’t quite understand how it works. Many of the best brains on earth are working towards conquering this terrain, but with little success.

With that in mind, I would say the team at Grammarly has done a decent job. The engine rightly identified most of the random garbled words, that I had sent It is their suggestion engine that needs a lot of rework. It was not able to give out proper suggestions even for common words. When I entered “dnt”, the engine promptly identified it as an error, but when I asked it to list out suggestions, it was totally stumped.

Vocabulary builder

Vocabulary builder

Vocabulary builder

One of the best things about English is it is really expressive. I often find myself in a quandary when it comes to the choice of words. Grammarly ships with a vocabulary builder to explore new words. All you need to do is to select the word for which you require to look up further and hit Synonyms and the app presents you with a card showing the different meanings of the word along with a convenient list of relevant synonyms.

Plagiarism Detection

Plagiarism Detector

Plagiarism Detector

There is no denying that the Internet is riddled with shameless copycats. People try to take credit for what others have done all the time. For example, at Appstorm, we strive hard to bring in high quality, original content for our readers with the help of a bunch of awesome freelancers, but occasionally a bad egg turns up, and we’ve to be on constant vigil. With the high volume of submissions we get, it’s virtually impossible for us to check every single entry for plagiarism. This is where a tool like Grammarly can be handy.

A little under cooked

A little under cooked

It was able to detect a few copied sentences which I checked against. It’s more efficacious when the text is copied from a more popular source, and not so much for others. One annoying bit, which literally forced me to disable it was, when it started squealing foul at the slightest resemblance in the text, when the real source they recommend had nothing to do with what I wrote.

A little CBA…

As with every good thing, Grammarly comes with a price as well, and a bit expensive at that. It’ll set you back by a whooping $30 every month. Most users would find this way too deep for their budget, but Grammarly might just be the tool for you if your life revolves around writing. $30/month might be a small price to pay when compared to being embarrassed front of your high paying clients, but completely overboard if all you type out is some informal emails. In the end, it all boils down to your needs, as well as your budget.

Note: If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, I would recommend you try Ginger. You can start-off with this nice article available on the Windows side of AppStorm.

Wrapping up

Grammarly is a nice tool, but sadly it’s a work in progress. There are many bugs and their suggestion engine would require some rework. At times, the grammar tip it flags are too confusing and difficult to comprehend. It also fails to take quotations as-is and shows a lot of irrelevant errors. The interface is also a bit clumsy, but as I said natural language processing is a very complicated domain, and at present Grammarly is the closest tool that I’ve ever seen. I strongly recommend you to check them out.

Do you think that web apps can prevent the language decay? Do you use any other app similar to Grammarly? Do join us in our discussion below and let us know your thoughts.


Summary

Grammer is a web based proof reader for serious writers.

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