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With all of these new technologies ‘literally’ at our fingertips, something as trivial as “bad grammar” just doesn’t fly anymore. In general, questions about almost anything can be solved through a quick google search. Entire languages can be learned online nowadays, so answers to questions on grammatical errors should be readily available, easy to find, and provide multiple explanations to make it comprehensible.
I was curious about the various modes grammar can be checked online. Wanting to prepare for college, I downloaded Grammarly (the free version) on my computer a few months ago, but since I write most of my papers on Pages, it wasn’t very useful. However, once I began contributing to this blog, I noticed that foreign, colorful bubbles would appear at the lower right-hand corner of my post… I quickly realized that it was my grammar-correcting application.
It’s helpful to have a “second pair of eyes” go over what I’ve written, but I rapidly came to the conclusion that nothing beats simply reading over my paragraphs multiple times, in my head as well as out loud. There are certain nuances that grammar/spell-checkers are not aware of, and therefore will not catch at all, or drastically change all-together.
To test my observations in a more scientific manner, I wrote a few horrendously incorrect sentences, and cringing, ran it through two grammar/spell checkers: Grammarly and the built-in Google Docs checker, LanguageTool. In order for Grammarly to work, I pasted my sentences into my blog as a draft, and let it take it from there.
Almost instantly, the bubble turned red and a three appeared, depicting the erros caught (which didn’t seem like a high enough number to me.) As expected, Grammarly didn’t catch all of the errors that I made, and even changed the meaning of the second to last sentence, not catching the double negatives. Then again, my expectations may have been too high for Grammarly, it was designed to catch simpler errors, not create the facade of a good writer. Another note, I didn’t pay for the full version, and I did receive a notification stating that my sentences contained one “advanced error.” I wonder what else was caught?
After Grammarly, I pasted my sentences into GoogleDocs, downloaded the application LanguageTool and let it “check” the document. I had higher expectations for LanguageTool, but it surprisingly ended up catching fewer errors than Grammarly. All in all, clicking “check document” does more good than harm, but for my purposes, I accomplish more checking my writing personally, or asking a friend.