I'm the creator of this site (Grammar Gang). I'm also the founder of Codeless, a long-form content creation company that's been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and hundreds more.
We produce around ~100 long, in-depth articles each month. So we're relying on these tools on a daily basis. Here, I break down the good, bad, and uuuuuuggggllllyyyy.
Latest posts by Brad Smith (see all)
- The 7 Best Writing Tools to Write More, Faster, in Less Time - April 17, 2019
- Why Most Freelance Writers Shouldn’t Waste their Time with Pinterest - February 9, 2019
- How to Prevent a Social Media Shakedown - February 9, 2019
Is Grammarly Premium worth it?
The short answer is…
Ok, great. Article over.
What? Not a compelling argument?
Ok, fine. Let’s do a few thousand words on it.
The Short Version
If you’re looking for a program that will make your writing life easier, look no further than Grammarly.
There’s so much to like about this service, from its ability to correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation, to its incredibly accurate plagiarism checker, which compares your work to over 16 billion different sources on the Web.
Like most programs of this type, Grammarly has a free service and a paid subscription-based plan called Grammarly Premium. While both help in their own way, you obviously get a lot more when subscribing to their premium plan.
But is this paid service worth it in the long run? Is Grammarly’s cost justified? Here’s a full rundown on their Premium service.
Who Uses Grammarly?
Grammarly can be used in a number of ways:
- On their website by uploading or pasting your files into a dashboard
- As a Chrome extension
- As an MS Word extension
- An Outlook app
- A Mac desktop app
- Google Docs extension
- As an app for your iOS or Android device
- As a desktop app on your computer
With so many ways to use Grammarly, there’s no mystery as to why it’s one of the most popular grammar, punctuation, and spell check systems in the world.
Grammarly’s ideal audience is also pretty big. From an educational level, its ideal user ranges from students on the high school and college levels looking for ways to improve their writing assignments, to educators searching for errors and plagiarism in their students’ work.
That’s not to say Grammarly is only beneficial to those involved in education. It has a slew of applications for working professionals, helping them to create more original content. While writers and editors will get some great insight into their work, non-writers will also benefit from Grammarly’s services, as it helps them create more effective emails, social media posts, official reports, or any other written correspondence they might have with a superior or client.
But while all of these differing demographics have a use for Grammarly’s services, do they all need Grammarly Premium? Can any of them just get by with what Grammarly offers for free?
What Does Grammarly Give Away?
To fully understand who benefits from Grammarly’s free service, we first have to talk about what is included.
According to this image, the only service offered in Grammarly’s free plan is critical grammar and spelling checks.
This is great for more casual writers. Someone like a high school student or a non-writing employee could make great use of this.
By activating Grammarly’s Chrome add-on, they can communicate effectively through email. It’s always embarrassing when you go back and forth with a colleague or client and realize afterwards that your copy is full of missed typos.
Furthermore, Grammarly’s mobile apps and browser add ons can police your text message conversations, Facebook messages, and tweets, ensuring that you’re not sending off some humiliating autocorrected mess to a special someone.
Grammarly acts like any old spell checker, highlighting your mistakes in red. If you hover your cursor over the mistake, it will offer you a correction. You can click on the suggestion to make it instantly.
This example was pulled from my computer, using the Gmail website. You’ll note that while it caught the spelling mistakes, it completely missed some grammatical issues. That’s one of the drawbacks to using this free service. It’s not as thorough.
But, as the image at the beginning of this section showed, there are a lot more features offered with Grammarly Premium.
- Advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure
- Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
- Genre-specific writing style suggestions
- Plagiarism checker
Perhaps you think that you can live without some or most of them? That might be because you haven’t truly thought about how useful these can be for your writing life.
Let’s take a look at Premium’s features one at a time and pinpoint who would benefit the most from each of them.
Advanced Punctuation, Grammar, Context, and Sentence Structure
Grammarly’s free grammar, punctuation and spell check services work extremely well for most of your everyday correspondence. But when you’re trying to shine through your words, you sometimes need more insight into how you communicate.
Let’s take a student, for instance.
You’re working on your big final project for English 101. It’s worth a large chunk of your grade, so it’s hugely important to your academic success. You’re going to want to make sure that this paper is as close to flawless as you can possibly get it.
Or maybe you’re a businessman who has to write a big pitch for a client. Your whole deal rests on this, so you want the content to exude confidence and expert knowledge. It should be easy to understand while also being informative and inspirational.
Both of these individuals are in different places in their lives. Both of them have different goals. Could Grammarly’s free checker help them both? Probably. But isn’t it better to correct a mistake and learn why it was wrong than it is to simply change it and move on?
That’s what Grammarly’s advanced checker does. It goes above and beyond fixing your mistakes for you. It teaches you how to improve in the process.
That’s an extremely thorough explanation. And they do this for all grammar errors within your document.
It’s the old adage of “give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Grammarly Premium isn’t just correcting your mistakes. It’s teaching you how to write.
No one likes to read the same words over and over again. That’s why Grammarly Premium has a vocabulary enhancement feature, which identifies overused terms throughout your document and makes suggestions on how to change them up.
The key to good writing is proper engagement. You want to know that your reader is with you from the beginning of your piece all the way to the end. The only way to do that is to ensure that their mind never glazes over.
That only comes from a deep vocabulary. Varying up your verbiage throws a curveball to your readers. It wakes their brains up and makes sure that they will want to keep reading.
Grammarly will point out common terms that you’re using a lot in the piece you’re reviewing, as well as some generally overused words that appear throughout the world.
That’s an invaluable service for professional writers seeking to spice up their work. It can also prove useful for non-writers who need a special boost to make their content pop.
Genre Specific Style
All writing has to be catered to a specific audience. You don’t write a business proposal in the same way you’d write a high school English paper. You don’t write an instructional guide in the same way you would write a fantasy fiction tale, and so on.
Grammarly Premium tailors its suggestions based on a set of goals that you’ve pre-selected. These goals are broken down into intent, audience, style, emotion, and domain.
When it comes to intent (currently an experimental goal Grammarly is trying out) you’re letting the system know whether you’re trying to inform the audience, describe something, convince a person of something, or tell a story. For instance, a novel is trying to tell a story, a term paper is trying to inform, and a sales pitch would be trying convince the potential client to sign on.
When it comes to audience, you can specify whether you’re speaking to someone who knows nothing about what you’re writing about, someone who is knowledgeable, or experts in the field. If you’re writing to a general audience, you’ll want to keep things more simplistic and avoid jargon. If your audience is comprised of experts, you can assume that they don’t need any background information.
Stylistically, Grammarly lets you decide whether you’re looking to be formal or informal. This varies based on what you’re writing. A blog post could be more casual and relaxed. (Like this one!) But if you’re creating a presentation, term paper, or sales pitch, those are generally more formal and professional.
Emotion is another experimental field. You can decide whether you want your language to carry strong or mild emotion. Conveying the proper emotion is essential to reaching your audience and will likely vary up your wording choices.
When it comes to what domain you’re writing for, there are a few different options.
Understanding your domain is the first step toward understanding your audience.
The ability to set these goals is one of Grammarly Premium’s most impressive features. It sets the paid version of Grammarly far apart from its free counterpart.
Plagiarism is a serious issue affecting both the educational and business sectors. Students have been expelled from programs due to plagiarised copy. Businesses have lost thousands of dollars in lawsuits for plagiarizing copyrighted content.
But a lot of plagiarism is done by accident. A person might not understand how to properly cite sources and, in their moment of misunderstanding, they make a mistake that can cost them big. That means a powerful plagiarism checker is worth its weight in gold.
And make no mistake about it, Grammarly uses a very powerful plagiarism detector. Their database pulls from more than 16 billion Web sources, identifying chunks of content that are either copied directly from another source or are too close for comfort.
Grammarly provides you with a very detailed report, showing you exactly what content is problematic, where it was pulled from, and how you can properly cite it without getting in trouble.
In the sample above, Grammarly flagged 86% of this article, finding 60 different fragments from 11 sources.
Should You Try Grammarly Premium?
Grammarly offers a service for everyone.
If all you’re looking to do is identify general grammatical errors and spelling errors in non professional correspondence like email and personal social media accounts, then the free version is probably all you’ll need.
But if you’re working on a specific writing project that has any level of importance, the advanced Grammarly Premium service could be a potential life saver.
This paid version of Grammarly will not only polish your work, but forge you into a better writer.
If you’re on the fence about the price, I’d recommend doing the monthly version for a month or two before switching to the annual option to ultimately save the most. That’s what I did, anyway.
My final verdict is that Grammarly Premium is more than worth it for content creators of all writing styles seeking to polish their skills by extending their editing beyond identifying simple grammar errors.