Friday, April 13, 2012

Tools of the Trade: Grammarly Grammar Checker Review

I was recently asked to review Grammarly Grammar Checker, and let me tell you: this could put me out of business. (If I had a business, that is.) (Yes I know, Grammarly, that is a sentence fragment.)

Grammarly is so incredibly easy, and students everywhere are going to love it. All you have to do is take your text and copy and paste it to the instant grammar check on Grammarly. So, for example, I ran my last blog post, Off the Beaten Path in the Smokies. Granted, I know it is filled with grammar no-nos. I maintain a chatty voice when writing blog posts, so I expected a harsh critique.

Check it out! Ouch—seriously—a 39 out of 100? "Poor, revision necessary"? That hurts me to the core. There are several different options as to how you would like your text checked: General, Business, Academic, Technical, Creative, or Casual. The first check was done with the "general" setting. I tried the next two, using the same text, with the "creative" and then "casual" settings. I was much happier with the results, scoring a 68 out of 100 with only 11 critical writing issues found.

Who am I fooling? It kills me to see the words "weak, revision necessary" on a piece of my writing, even though I know that I break all kinds of grammar rules when I write my blog.

So I decided to correct my blog post and then run it. I did some minor changes, still keeping a chatty voice. This time I improved to a 76%. Not good enough for me. The third time, I made a grade of 87%. On my fourth try, I managed to get my score to a 90% with only three changes needed. Phew!

So then I decided to try a selection from a paper that my son, a college sophomore, wrote for his philosophy class. He received an A on this paper, and his professor strongly encouraged him to submit it to a philosophy journal. I plugged in about 500 words, and gave it a 63%!

What is so awesome about Grammarly is that it does more than point out the errors: it tells you how to correct them with detailed error descriptions and correction advice, and citation suggestions, and even provides vocabulary enhancement tools.

I would love this tool for my students. It doesn't just automatically correct one's writing; it offers suggestions and tells you why something is wrong.  I could see this as especially beneficial to college and high school students who write a lot of papers and are unsure about their writing skills. Running a paper through could make a huge different in a grade and help students actually see how to make their papers better. You can plug in text and use the grammar checker for free, but for detailed information about how to fix it, you'll need to upgrade. You can go by the month, 6-month, or yearly fee, with three different pay scaled depending on your choice of subscription length.

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