Grammarly Premium review

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 2, 2018
Updated • Jan 2, 2018

Grammarly is an online spell and grammar checker for the English language. It is available as a free and limited version and a premium version.

I always wanted to try the premium version of Grammarly but found it to be quite an expensive affair. Grammarly Premium is available as a subscription service; the lowest price, if you pay annually, is $11.66 right now. That's $139.95 for spell and grammar checking.

I stumbled upon a deal on Ghacks Deals recently that got me a one-year subscription for $69.98 instead (with options to renew at that price), and I made the decision then and there to become a Grammarly Premium user for a year.

How does Grammarly work?

Grammarly is available as a web service, as browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari, as Microsoft Word and Outlook add-ins, and as software for Windows.

The core functionality is identical for each of the available applications. What happens is the following:

  1. You set up the service. Setup includes selecting whether you write in US English or British English.
  2. Grammarly checks your writing as you type, or when you paste it.
  3. It does so by sending the data to the Grammarly server.
  4. Errors are highlighted after the checks, and it is up to you to go through them to either accept the correction or ignore it.

The browser extensions work pretty much the same. The extensions add a Grammarly icon to the main toolbar of the web browser to indicate that Grammarly installed correctly. You use it to sign in to your account and to disable functionality on specific sites.

The extension adds an icon to the active form as well which highlights spelling or grammar mistakes and issues using yellow and red colors. Red indicates critical issues, yellow advanced issues.

A click on the Grammarly icon opens an overlay of the text. All issues are underlined in it and suggestions are displayed next to it. A click on the arrow icon provides an explanation for the issue, for instance, spelling mistakes, passive voice use, or that words are used repetitively. A click on the suggestion replaces the original text with the suggestion.

You may ignore any issue as well so that Grammarly won't show it again.

Grammarly underlines spelling or grammar mistakes directly in some browsers as well. It did so in Chrome, but I ran into issues in Firefox. While Grammarly did display the underlines sometimes, it did not show them underneath the text.

firefox grammarly issue

You need to hover over the underline to display the suggestion and can accept the correction right away without having to open the overlay first.

Grammarly replaces the default spell checker of the browser while active.

The Word add-in

The Grammarly Word add-in adds a new tab to the Office application. A click on it opens the interface, but Grammarly is set up to check for issues even when the tab is not active. You can disable the functionality in the options.

The add-in comes with extra functionality that the browser extensions don't support. You can set a document type, e.g., technical or academic writing.

You use the Grammarly sidebar to go through the document or click on any underlined text in the document to jump to the Grammarly suggestion for it.

The Word add-in runs checks -- contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style -- by default. You can enable the vocabulary enhancement check on top of that, and disable any of the checks as well.

The Web version of Grammarly supports a basic editing interface. You can paste text into the text field, upload text, or type instead. Grammarly runs checks on the text that you type or paste, and supplies you with the same set of tools to check, accept or ignore its suggestions.

Documents can be copied or downloaded afterward. The web version supports pretty much the same feature set as the Word add-in. There is one difference though: the web version of Grammarly supports sending documents to professional proof-readers. Proof-reading starts at $1.20 for 60 words and goes up to $9.60 per 60 words if you need results within 30 minutes.

Grammarly Free vs Premium

All versions of Grammarly support grammar and spell checking. Premium users get access to additional checks and suggestions on top of that:

  • Advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and structure.
  • Vocabulary enhancement suggestions.
  • Genre-specific writing style checks.
  • Plagiarism Detector.

My Experience

I ran into a couple of issues right away. The Firefox extension did not recognize the sign in at first. I contacted Grammarly support, and the response was quick. I was told that Grammarly needed third-party cookie support and that I should set cookie handling to "allow all" in Firefox.

I did not have time yet to investigate this further, but I plan to set it up so that the cookies that Grammarly sets are allowed while all other third-party cookies are not.

Grammarly works fine for the most part. I tested it as a browser extension, Word add-in, and web version.

I like the Word add-in best, as it does not get in your way while you write. The spinning Grammarly icon that the service's browser extensions add is quite distracting and can't be disabled.

The Word add-in and the Web version make it easier to correct issues that Grammarly found on top of that as these are displayed in a sidebar and not in an overlay.

Grammarly finds issues that regular spell checking won't. That's useful, especially if you are a writer or write regularly.

I'm not too fond of the server-side nature of the service and the fact that you cannot disable the stats collecting. Grammarly sends weekly reports to users that highlight how productive you are in comparison to all other users of the service. Unsubscribe options are only displayed in the emails, but not on the Grammarly website.

Grammarly is expensive even when it is discounted. It is probably worth it if you are a writer, blogger or student.

Grammarly Premium review
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Grammarly Premium review
Grammarly is an online spell and grammar checker for the English language. It is available as a free and limited version and a premium version.
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  1. Amir said on July 9, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I forgot to complete my comment above. Sorry.
    I wanted to know if I get Grammarly, I wouldn’t have problems in Firefox with those settings I have as you see in the screenshot. Thank you.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 9, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      You can try that, I did not try it but it should work.

  2. Amir said on July 9, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Martin, based on your review, I am thinking of getting subscription for Grammarly.
    You mentioned:
    “I was told that Grammarly needed third-party cookie support and that I should set cookie handling to “allow all” in Firefox.

    I did not have time yet to investigate this further, but I plan to set it up so that the cookies that Grammarly sets are allowed while all other third-party cookies are not.”

    Right now, I am on Firefox 68.0. My settings for cookies are as screenshot in this link:

  3. chesscanoe said on January 2, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Paper books today, even from respectable publishers (re USA), have several unintended spelling and grammatical errors per maybe 100 pages. These publishers no longer spend money on competent copy editors, or even proofreaders. It appears they will not even buy a program like Grammarly Premium because they employ no competent person to evaluate its output.

    1. Clairvaux said on January 2, 2018 at 10:13 pm

      Same thing here. I once returned a book to a bricks and mortar bookshop because it was so full of typos as to be unbearable to read. Needless to say, those mistakes were recently added, since it was a novel by a respectable writer of the beginning of the 20th century, at a time when people knew how to spell (or at least cared for it).

      Of course what I was suggesting was a paper-and-ink grammar manual, which hopefully wouldn’t have any spelling mistakes, or, God forbids, grammatical ones.

      1. Clairvaux said on January 3, 2018 at 12:57 am

        My comment is awaiting moderation ? Now let me see… no URLs, no d*** pics… what’s afoot ? Does “brick-and-mortar bookshop” triggers angry algorithms because, you know, mortars, and we can’t let slip a word about weapons ? Is “God forbid”, so to say, haram, because first you speak about God these days, and the next thing we know is you blow up a few dozen people ?

        Is the blog software a grammar-hater, so the word “grammatical” requires moderation ? Or might it be the case, on the contrary, that I made a grammatical error, and the blog electrons have their atomic knickers in a twist, because we can’t let the Queen’s English go to the dogs anymore ?

  4. Clairvaux said on January 2, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    What about buying a, you know, book ? Much, much cheaper, and you will be able to pass it on to your children.

  5. George P. Burdell said on January 2, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    The home and office versions of WordPerfect include a built-in grammar checker, along with the spell checker and thesaurus. It’s not super-good, but it is pretty good. I judge it useful for those who were not brought up with the Anguish Languish.

    The good news is it’s all done on the local machine, no sending text off to the cloud for suggestions.

    1. Hy said on January 2, 2018 at 11:49 pm

      “Anguish Languish”! Love it!

      Ah, the divine WordPerfect! My first great software love… I still use it nearly daily to this day.

      Regarding the oxymoronic “Grammarly”: I can certainly see the appeal of something like this, but that name, that hideous, painful name…it’s like fingernails across the blackboard for those who care about…grammar, language, etc.. It’s like naming it “Grammerchecker & Spellrite.” The creators are probably laughing all the way to the bank: “Hey, let’s make a product that checks grammar and spelling of words and let’s give it a name that’s not a word!” That horribly awkward, painful name doesn’t inspire confidence, even if it does its job well, which one would certainly hope it does for that price…

      1. Clairvaux said on January 3, 2018 at 12:45 am

        Good point. Horrible name.

  6. Batcg said on January 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    O wish it had support for more languages, Spanish and French por examplo. They have a keyboard for smartphones too which is quite good.

  7. Robbie K. said on January 2, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    My experience has been mixed. I have been using the Free version on two machines for several months. On one, it runs smooth and I have been tempted to upgrade. On the other, it takes nearly a minute to open my first browser page. The lag is such that I have now disabled it. Both machines are nearly identical in specification and software installations.

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