Boost Your Professional Image with Better Grammar
If there is one thing that can ruin communication, class or business reports, a blog, or even a first impression, it's poor grammar. In every area (and language) of life, proper grammar is critical. An innocent typo could compromise one's credibility. It can even cost someone a job.
In today's world of shorthand texting, emojis, and auto-correct it can be easy to lose touch with how the English language ought to be written.
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Even proofreading my own work can be a tricky task. This is especially true when typing on a computer screen. Sure, I could just print out every email, blog post or document and read it aloud to check for errors. But even then, something strange happens during the editing process. Somehow while proofreading, my mind ignores even glaring typographical errors and substitutes them with what I meant to say.
A Tool That Helps Improve Your Writing Skills
Each Grammarly account comes with a free browser extension that helps you write error-free in Gmail, Facebook, WordPress, Linkedin, and anywhere else you write on the Web. They even offer an extension that can be used with Microsoft Word or Outlook.
How Grammarly Works
Would you like to see Grammarly in action? Take a look at the screenshots below. This text below is from one of my previous posts: A Chic Boutique on Wheels in the Windy City.
Before publishing this post, I copied and pasted the text into my Grammarly page (premium version). And the screen started to light up! There were highlighted and underlined words everywhere. Not only did Grammarly detect punctuation errors, but it made vocabulary enhancement suggestions. Depending on your SEO goals, you may choose to ignore or accept these suggestions. I chose to accept a couple of them since it was flagged as an "overused word" that I didn't need.
Then something interesting happened. Grammarly detected that the word it had just recommended was a bit awkward for the thought I was attempting to convey. So it flagged my phrase again. This time it was deemed an "unusual word pairing" (see below), and Grammarly suggestion something more appropriate. It even provided an explanation for the correction. A great tool indeed for those wanting to expand their writing vocabulary, as well as for multilingual speakers like myself. Grammar can quickly become confusing when jumping from one language to another!
Since the post I was sampling was already published, I decided to try Grammarly's plagiarism detection tool (premium version only). After scanning the text, it immediately flagged 262 words (more than enough for a copyright lawsuit), as "unoriginal text."
Not only that, but it also cited the URL where the original version could be found, along with the blog post title and access date. The plagiarism tool compares any text you enter against 8 billion other web pages. Impressive.
Deciphering Grammarly's False Positives
These are all great tools, but there are a couple of areas to beware of with Grammarly. I like to call them "false positives." In every language, there are certain expressions that everyone uses. No one owns them per se. And since people usually understand what you mean when you say them, the expression is technically not improper English.
In one instance, for example, I wrote the phrase"to build out the space." Grammarly disagreed with my word choice and tagged my grammar as incorrect. I ignored Gram on this one.
I detected another problem when I reviewed my Grammarly progress report. It stated that a 1% plagiarism in my post. What?! After examining it carefully, the phrase in question was actually a common expression. Therefore, no one can claim ownership of it.
Finally, I noticed that certain misspelled words may not be detected. For example, you might type "fist commandment" instead of "first commandment". Grammarly, like most other word processing software like Microsoft Word, will NOT detect that the incorrect word was used. Why? Because "fist" IS a properly spelled word.
Unfortunately, that means that you will still need to carefully proofread your work. But that will keep you on your toes! Despite those drawbacks, I still believe that Grammarly is a very powerful tool for writers.
What about you? Please tell me in the comments below.
- Do you think Grammarly is a useful tool for you?
- How would you use it?
- Would you recommend it to others?