Grammarly Review: A Look at Grammarly Premium vs Grammarly Free

P.J McNulty
January 16, 2020 | 10 mins

You’re looking for an in-depth Grammarly review because you want to know if this digital writing tool is really the solution to your writing improvement needs.

For over a decade, Grammarly has grown and evolved into the writing software currently used by over 20 million people around the world.

Grammarly may have originated as an old-school spelling and grammar product for students, but today it’s become a lot more. 

As self-publishers, we can be both optimistic and skeptical about the range of tools out there. 

So is Grammarly worthy of your time and attention, or should you look elsewhere?

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In this full Grammarly review, we’ll explore:

  1. What is Grammarly?
  2. How does Grammarly work?
  3. Grammarly Premium review
  4. Does Grammarly improve writing?
  5. Where can I use Grammarly?
  6. How much does Grammarly cost?
  7. Grammarly review: the pros and cons
  8. Grammarly alternatives
  9. Overall verdict: Grammarly review

What is Grammarly?

Grammarly is a digital writing tool that checks grammar, spelling mistakes, writing issues, and plagiarism using artificial intelligence and natural language processing.

Do you remember the old days of spelling and grammar checkers? Of the basic red squiggles appearing under our words?

Times have changed!

Grammarly represents the cutting-edge of writing improvement software, using AI and massive amounts of data to offer insight into your text. 

It will help you catch your obvious errors such as typos and glaring grammar mishaps, but it also does more than that. It offers to educate you on more complex aspects of language and is also customizable to your needs.

A Note To Our Readers:

We want you to make informed decisions when it comes to how and where to invest your money. That’s why our mission is to help educate authors on the various self-publishing companies and services that are on the market today.

Our reviews are meant to be unbiased, 3rd party reviews, but we will speak up if there is a scam or a clearly better option.

How does Grammarly work?

The best way to see if this writing tool is right for you is to try out Grammarly’s free version.

Your free Grammarly account will provide you with a high level of functionality, and won’t try and trap you into a time-limited trial.

To see what Grammarly can do for you, follow these five simple steps.

Step 1 – Create a free account 

Grammarly Review: Create A Free Account Guide

You can either register directly with Grammarly or use an existing Facebook or Google account.

Step 2 – Write or upload text

Once you’ve accessed Grammarly’s free online version, you need to either type directly into the interface or upload an existing file.

Grammarly Review: How To Upload Text

Grammarly accepts the following file types:

  • .docx
  • .odt
  • .rtf
  • .txt

If you upload an existing file into Grammarly, it will be shown without any formatting you added. This is to make editing simpler and without the distraction of formatted text.

Don’t worry though! When it’s time to download your edited text, Grammarly will automatically reinsert the formatting.

Step 3 – Set goals 

Grammarly Review: Set Goals Feature

One of the most useful features of Grammarly is its customizability. The feedback it provides is tailored to your writing style, and the people you are writing for.

So how can you customize Grammarly to provide the feedback you need?

  1. Audience. You can set Grammarly’s audience to General, Knowledgeable, or Expert. 
  2. Formality. Worried about striking the right tone with your words? Grammarly lets you choose between Informal, Neutral, or Formal. 
  3. Domain. If you’re writing specifically for academic, business, or other specialist readers, Grammarly will help you choose the most effective words. 

Allowing you to set different goals depending on your intent and audience is a superb Grammarly feature. You not only get to write confidently for different types of audiences and projects but also learn more about the reasons for particular Grammar suggestions.

Step 4 – Consider & apply your suggestions

Grammarly Review: Color Coded Alerts

After running your text through Grammarly, you’ll receive feedback on the right of the screen, and corresponding underlined alerts in the body of your text.

You’ll receive feedback in the following areas:

  1. Overall score. A metric indicating the overall correctness of your text as assessed by Grammarly. 
  2. Correctness. Red highlights show what Grammarly considers to be errors. 
  3. Clarity. Grammarly will highlight aspects of your writing such as needless words and tautologies. It’s fascinating to have our writing blindspots revealed to us so clearly!

The engagement and delivery metrics are displayed in the free version of Grammarly, but the feedback is reserved for Premium users only. Keep reading to discover what Grammarly Premium has to offer!

Step 5 – Download your edit

After implementing all of Grammarly’s suggestions, you can download your file in .docx format. 

When you download this copy, Grammarly automatically implements any formatting elements. A cloud copy of your work is also stored online with Grammarly. 

Now that you know what the free version of Grammarly can do, let’s check out the Premium option’s extra capabilities. 

Grammarly Premium review

Is Grammarly Premium, the writing tool’s paid version, really worth it? Or can you get by with the free version?

So what do you gain by opting to invest in the Premium edition of Grammarly?

Grammarly Review: Free Vs Premium

As you see from the above image, Grammarly Premium offers definite advantages over the Grammarly free version.

Here are the main differences between Grammarly Premium and Grammarly’s free tool:

  1. Readability. Get feedback on the level of energy readers will have to expend to understand your text. 
  2. Vocabulary enhancement. Learn ways to make your words more impactful and effective. 
  3. Genre-specific style. As writers, we often have pet words or phrases which might be suitable for our everyday use but aren’t the best fit for the genre we are writing in. Grammarly Premium helps you use genre-appropriate language.
  4. Plagiarism detector. Worried about plagiarism? The Premium version of Grammarly scans text against extensive databases and over 16 billion websites. 

For many writers, the free edition of Grammarly is more than enough. However, if you like the overall experience of using Grammarly, it’s worth considering whether the Premium features represent a worthwhile investment.

Does Grammarly improve my writing?

Now that you know how to get started with the free edition of Grammarly, and have seen what Grammarly Premium version has to offer, let’s look closer at the specific Grammarly provides.

#1 – Better grammar

Grammarly goes further than just pointing out your grammar errors – it also provides you with rules and understanding.

Grammarly Review: Grammar Suggestions

As you see in the above image, Grammarly has identified an incorrect pronoun. 

Some other useful grammar suggestions provided by Grammarly include:

  • Overused adverbs
  • Too many prepositional phrases
  • Ambiguous modifiers

If you find the thought of human feedback intimidating, or prefer to interact with software, Grammarly is an informative and non-threatening way to improve your grammar. 

#2 – Spelling corrections

While a careless typo can be embarrassing, repeated spelling errors can seriously harm your credibility. Thankfully, Grammarly is capable of picking up both types.  

Grammarly Review: Spelling Improvement Function

The spelling improvements offered by Grammarly help avoid any moments of error, issues with voice dictation, or other small slip-ups damaging the quality of your writing. 

#3 – Punctuation

Having issues with punctuation puts you in the company of some very fine writers indeed.

Grammarly Review: Punctuation Function

If you have challenges with punctuation, it’s worth seeing what Grammarly suggests. That way, you can be sure you’re making a stylistic choice rather than a glaring error!

#4 – Conciseness

Grammarly helps to ensure your writing is as concise as possible. This helps prevent your reader from getting bored or confused!

Grammarly Review: Conciseness Function

Other ways that Grammarly helps to keep your writing concise include:

  • Reducing prepositional phrases.
  • Avoiding run-on sentences. 
  • Highlighting tautologies. 

#5 – Formality

Depending on your audience, and the purpose of your writing, you may need to take a closer look at the formality of the language you use. 

Grammarly Review: Formality Function

If you’re unsure about if your language is too formal or informal, Grammarly is here to help. You can write without second-guessing yourself.

#6 – Vocabulary

Sometimes, when we are lost in the flow of conveying our thoughts and feelings through words, we make suboptimal vocabulary choices without realizing it. 

Grammarly Review: Vocabulary Function

As well as the example shown above, Grammarly also helps you enliven your verbs, and avoid overusing dull or tired language. 

All in all, Grammarly has put together a superb selection of writing suggestions. They will help you avoid your worst mistakes, and also help you reach your full potential.

Where can I use Grammarly?

As well as the Free and Premium versions of Grammarly described above, several integrations and extensions are available. This is great if you like to write on different devices or apps at different times. 

#1 – Grammarly smartphone keyboard

Smartphones and tablets aren’t going away anytime soon, particularly with the spread of 5G.

If you want to ensure you’re grammatically accurate, even on the go, Grammarly offers a smartphone keyboard for both iOS and Apple devices.

Grammarly Review: Smartphone Keyboard

If you write, edit, or communicate on the move, the Grammarly keyboard can help save you from an embarrassing autocorrect error.

#2 – Grammarly Chrome integration

If you write in Google’s Chrome browser, consider installing the Grammarly extension. 

It can help catch errors on contact forms, comments sections, or anywhere else you might be writing via Chrome. 

Take the time to try out Grammarly for Chrome for yourself. Some users have reported their connection and browser being slowed down significantly, so make sure the extension doesn’t cause any performance problems for your device.

#3 – Grammarly for Microsoft Word

Although products such as Word and Outlook face a lot more competition than they used to, there are still plenty of loyal Microsoft users out there.

Grammarly For Microsoft Word

Grammarly doesn’t integrate with every Microsoft product, but as you see from the above image, it offers a significant boost in power over the standardized Microsoft Word grammar and spelling check. 

How much does Grammarly cost?

So what are the different price points Grammarly is available at?

  • Free. The best way for self-publishers to get started using Grammarly is to try out the free version to get a feel for the overall experience. 
  • Premium monthly. If you want to try out a month of Grammarly Premium, you can make a one-off payment of $29.95.
  • Premium quarterly. You can pay for 3 months of Grammarly Premium for a single payment of $59.95.
  • Premium annual. The best value option is to pay for a month of Grammarly Premium upfront. You get a whole year of Grammarly for $139.95, working out at $11.66 per month.

While the free version of Grammarly offers excellent value and functionality, the Premium options will represent a good ROI for many self-publishers, particularly if you are currently spending money on paid editing services, or wasting your time with a less efficient tool. 

Grammarly review: the pros and cons

So should you opt for Grammarly, or are you better off with another writing software option?

In our view, there are some main pros and cons to using Grammarly as your go-to digital writing tool for catching spelling and grammar mistakes, improving readability, and developing your writing.

The pros of Grammarly

  1. Excellent free version. The power provided by the free version of Grammarly is immense. The user interface is a joy to use. 
  2. Clear explanations. If you’re looking to not only write well but learn more about your craft at the same time, Grammarly offers superb insight into the English language.
  3. Useful integrations. We like how Grammarly integrates into everyday writing environments, such as the Chrome Browser and smartphone keyboard. This means making the move to Grammarly doesn’t require a large learning curve. 

The cons of Grammarly

Why might you consider an alternative option to Grammarly?

  1. Price. If you’re thinking of investing in the Premium version of Grammarly, take the time to compare its prices and features with alternative software. See which is the best value for your current needs.
  2. Power. Some writers prefer the feature set of ProWritingAid. Take the time to consider which offers the level of assistance you are looking for. 
  3. Performance. Some writers have found the Chrome extension to slow down their browser. See how the performance of Grammarly compares to other options out there.

In our view, trying out the free version of Grammarly is a no-brainer, If you’re looking to invest in a paid tool, take more time to compare and weigh up your options. 

Grammarly alternatives 

Before investing in Grammarly Premium, consider the alternatives. 

There’s no definitive best option, so think about your needs in terms of price, features, and user experience. 

Grammarly vs Hemingway

Hemingway Editor is a minimalist example of writing software, offering a similar, but less powerful set of features to Grammarly.

You can check out our thoughts on Hemingway here.

If you’re considering opting for Grammarly Free, Hemingway might be a suitable alternative. 

If you need the advanced capabilities of Grammarly, Hemingway probably won’t be enough.

Grammarly vs ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid is probably the closest thing to Grammarly out there at the moment.

There’s a useful free version of ProWritingAid, a more fully-featured paid version, and ProWritingAid also integrates with a lot of other apps and tools.

You can check out our full review of ProWritingAid here.

If you’re choosing between Grammarly and ProWritingAid, make a careful comparison of the features and costs, and decide which is right for your situation. Also, take the time to try both free versions, as nothing beats hands-on experience. 

Read through the Grammarly review, and the ProWritingAid review, to make an informed choice.

Grammarly vs Quillbot

Quillbot is another AI-based tool that helps with grammar fixes, but also carries out other functions like paraphrasing and research summarizing. You can check out our full review of Quillbot here.

Overall verdict: Grammarly review

So what’s our overall take in this Grammarly review?

We particularly love the level of functionality provided by the free version, and the wide range of integrations Grammarly offers.

Grammarly is capable of preventing your embarrassing mistakes, deepening your level of writing knowledge, and everything in between.

If you think your next writing project could benefit from Grammarly, we urge you to try it out for yourself.

It truly does have something to offer writers of every level.

What’s not to love about that?

Do you agree with our Grammarly review?

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