A month with Grammarly, or the editor looking over your shoulder

Tell me if this has happened to you. You’re on Facebook or maybe Twitter (does anyone still use Google Plus?), writing a post (maybe it’s something you’re just tossing off, or maybe it’s actually something important. (I don’t know, does anything important go on Facebook? I have my doubts. But anyway….) So there you are, typing away, and you’ve got your link attached and there’s a preview image and everything looks good so you hit post…

…and as everything fades out before it goes live, you see a misspelling.

Now, if you’re me (and if you are, I’m so sorry, you poor thing), this is the point where a lot of cussing happens and you hit the escape key thinking “maybe it won’t go up.” But then you refresh the page and, sure enough, there it is, making you (or your company or your client) look like a big ol’ dummy.

There is nothing I hate more than this. (Okay, maybe getting bitten in the leg by a dog was more unpleasant, but it’s still not fun.) Between you and me, I’m pretty damn good at grammar and spelling. I should hope so; editing is part of my livelihood, and typos don’t really inspire confidence in one’s clients.

Anyway, this is where Grammarly* comes into the picture. After I wrote the post “#Protip: Listen to Your @$&#! Editor,” the folks at Grammarly e-mailed to say ha ha you’re real funny I’ll kill you last! Hang on, no, that was in a movie. Anyway, they e-mailed to say that was really funny but also very helpful, would you like to give our app a spin and write a review?

Well, sure, why not?

For those who don’t know, Grammarly is an online grammar, spelling, and syntax and context checker. I’d heard of them before but hadn’t availed myself of their services because a) I’m edited by awesomely accurate editors, and b) I’m not gonna lie, I’m a pretty darn good editor myself.

No one’s above mistakes, though, and so I copied the text of a work in progress into the online checker:

Grammarly 1


Like I said, I never claimed to be completely error free. Also, I did mean “shouting” in that excerpt you can see above, but Grammarly caught some other errors that I’m not replicating here to save myself embarrassment. That’s one of the nifty things about this; it checks not just that you spelled the word correctly, but that you used the correct word.

So, those 26 critical issues are highlighted throughout the text and the advanced issues are available  if you upgrade to premium. (Hey, nothing in this life’s free, including expertise.) Wait, actually that’s a big lie too. You know what else they have? A Chrome browser plug-in that is completely awesome. Remember that thing I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Well, it works like this:

Grammarly 2

Here’s a tweet I was writing earlier today (looking for a recipe that would use a can of evaporated milk I’d opened by accident—yeah, don’t ask). As you can see, I made a couple typos. Fortunately, the plug-in caught them. This is really handy for me. Yes, I know that we cut people a certain amount of slack when it comes to posting on Twitter or Facebook, but that’s not to say I cut myself any slack. This is also extremely handy when I’m filling in online forms for things like literary magazine submissions or residency applications, two times when I really don’t want to screw up.

Also, if you don’t use Chrome, they’re coming out with plug-ins for Firefox and Safari this summer, too. What I’d really like, though, is to be able to use this sort of function on my phone’s browser and apps, because that’s where my fat thumbs and stubby fingers lead me to frequently end up typing the phrase, “Aargh! Stupid autocorrect!” But this is pretty darn handy.

*And in case you’re thinking oh great, he’s a shill now, the folks at Grammarly aren’t paying me for this or anything. But it was kind of fun—and anyone who would like to pay me is of course encouraged to get in touch….