I’m Breaking Up With Grammarly

I have just canceled my subscription to Grammarly's writing tool, and after having sent a ranty email to Grammarly's PR rep I thought it would be helpful to share my criticism of the service.

If you listen to its fans you would think Grammarly is the best grammar-checking tool on the market. This online service scans your work as you are typing, pointing out what it thinks are errors.

I have a different opinion.

I've been using Grammarly's Chrome extension for four months now, and I have a problem with Grammarly's definition of an error and with how it allows me to fix said "errors".

I'm Breaking Up With Grammarly content creation ebook tools Reviews Writing

My issues with Grammarly are two-fold: the service has a very limited vocabulary, and its developers have programmed it to exhibit the moral certainty that it knows better than users.

In terms of vocabulary, I am paying $84 a year for a service that throws false positives when it tries to spellcheck common acronyms, many tech company names, and common technical terms like "ebook".

Now, the limited vocabulary would not be an issue if not for the fact that Grammarly frequently doesn't let me add words to a custom dictionary unless I visit its site.

And then there's the way that Grammarly responds to the "errors" it finds.

If, for example, I refer to an author's ebooks, Grammarly will block me from inserting a link on the word ebooks until after I have resolved the false positive. As a result I sometimes end up with links like this:

The ebooks can be found here.

That is annoying, but there is a bigger problem.

When I am trying to fix an error Grammarly sometimes makes the cursor jump around in ways that interfere with my typing and causes more errors.

Grammarly assumes users are only going to use its service to fix errors. Its developers did not take into account that some users like to correct the text by retyping the correct word or manually deleting the incorrect characters.

 Let's say I mistyped the word disestablishmentarianism.

If I move the cursor to the end of the incorrect word so I can use the backspace key to delete it, Grammarly sometimes jumps the cursor to the beginning. It will even move the cursor while I am in the middle of deleting the word with the backspace key, which means that several words get mashed together.

If I am not careful the problem will snowball and I will end up with something like this:

Lesaymistthewordisestablishmentariani.

I usually catch this problem by the time Grammarly has screwed up three words, and use the undo keyboard shortcut to fix it, but that doesn't change the fact that Grammarly frequently causes even bigger errors than it is fixing.

O O O

I have been a paying user of Grammarly for the past four months, and I have never been happy with it. It has honestly caused more problems than it solved.

And unfortunately, these are problems that the developers don't seem to be interested in solving.

I have tweeted at Grammarly on Twitter every once in a while, complaining about the issues I have encountered, but they have never responded. So when I found myself screaming at my computer this morning after Grammarly ruined yet another forum comment, I knew I had to share my complaints.

Tell me, have you had any issues with Grammarly, or a similar tool?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

32 Comments

  1. Russell Phillips4 May, 2017

    I use Language Tool. I’ve been using it for some time, and am happy enough not to look elsewhere.
    https://www.languagetool.org/

    Reply
  2. Frank4 May, 2017

    Grammarly just updated its app, maybe the issues will be fixed soon.

    Reply
  3. Albertde4 May, 2017

    If you type in several languages or use Canadian spelling conventions, Grammarly is a pain in the butt. You can’t shut it off when you switch languages nor will it correct using Canadian, not Amreican or British spelling, so it is not for me.

    Reply
  4. kariss Ainsworth5 May, 2017

    I had to delete grammerly because it jumped all over the page, not just when it was picking up on issues, but when I was writing. Every now and then I wouldn’t be able to write at all because it would jump all over the page as I wrote leaving a jumbled mess and stopped me deleting it, or delete the whole thing. It was very buggy.

    Reply
  5. Christi Love5 May, 2017

    I use the free version and have noted all the same issues you point out, but since I write a lot on the fly during my workday, I do rely on it to catch my typo’s (even if it misidentifies errors). I’ve learned to be alert to the shortcomings you describe. If I was paying for it, I’d be less enthralled, but I guess after years of dealing with the limitations of Spellcheck, I assumed Grammarly would similarly, be far from perfect.

    Reply
  6. BDR5 May, 2017

    My experience with grammar checkers is that they are more trouble than they are worth; often complaining of sentence structures and usage that I *intended* to be different/colloquial/odd. In addition, I found Grammarly to be frequently just plain *wrong* in its suggestions. Maybe they’ve improved from earlier versions but I’ll never find out because I’ve no intention of going back.

    After a ceaseless barrage of its ignorance,

    Reply
  7. Steven Ramirez5 May, 2017

    Nate, I agree with you. The fact that Grammarly integrates with Microsoft Office still makes it worthwhile. Like any software program, I employ workarounds and am ever hopeful these minor annoyances will be fixed. The sooner, the better.

    Reply
  8. Icy Sedgwick7 May, 2017

    I only use the web based version and I do find it annoying, especially if I say ‘ignore’ on a word that is valid, just not in its dictionary – and then it highlights it again multiple times. Come on, Grammarly, I’ve met puppies that learn quicker than you.

    Reply
  9. Brendan10 May, 2017

    I share your frustration. It makes me wonder if they even use their own app, because one run-through of typing ends up becoming a run-around, chasing the cursor as it wreaks havoc over what one’s just written. Come on now. Get your app together! Rather than saving time, it’s becoming a waste of time to deal with it. I’m preparing to cancel if they don’t come up with a fix, and quick.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder10 May, 2017

      I think they did test it. I think they built a tool that works exactly the ay they write.

      The only problem is, the Grammarly devs don’t write much.

      Reply
  10. Chantal22 June, 2017

    I agree. It’ll mark the silliest things as issues, such as perfectly acceptable words like ‘lad’. Also, it will try to add commas where they aren’t needed and will even try to change singular to plural when there’s absolutely no reason for it. Not just its vocabulary is limited, its grasp of different styles, which require different grammar, is also lacking. Sure, you can ignore an issue but it’ll just get marked again when you change so much as a single character, which triggers the checking process all over again. I know I’m using a free service – I don’t make enough use of it to justify a costly subscription – and I am able to determine for myself what I want to change and what I wish to keep, but still. And then there’s a new issue which I recently discovered: when making alterations, the cursor will suddenly jump to the end of the document. Where did that come from? Anyway, I’m still using it but as soon as something more reliable comes along, I’m walking away from Grammarly.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder24 June, 2017

      “when making alterations, the cursor will suddenly jump to the end of the document”

      That’s so weird; I usually see a jump to the beginning.

      Reply
  11. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt6 August, 2017

    I quit as soon as I realized that a software TOOL had the gall to suggest grammar to a writer of fiction. I think it’s a business English program.

    I bristled when Microsoft Word suggested changes – turned that off as soon as I figured out how to. And I NEED Word for some things.

    Grammarly is entirely optional.

    Instead, I have a lifetime membership to AutoCrit – and use it ONLY for the features I need: counting – the same word, adverbs, how many times I’ve used a phrase, cliches…

    I have put over 3 million words through AC in the last 2-3 years; and even IT keeps trying to get me to try its judgmental features.

    I’m quite happy having it point out that I’ve used ‘get’ seven times in a scene.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder6 August, 2017

      “a business English program”

      Indeed. It was made for people who do not write professionally.

      Reply
      1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt7 August, 2017

        Agreed. Writers should be past that, especially if they publish themselves.

        Possibly also intended for the non-native speakers? I can’t tell you the number of hackles it raised. Of course, I am not a patient person.

        Reply
  12. Carmen Webster Buxton7 August, 2017

    I don’t think there’s anything more annoying than pushy software unless it’s arrogant pushy software.

    I’m fine with the grammar check built into MS Word mostly because I can ignore it if I don’t agree with it.

    Reply
  13. Jean Kaplansky8 August, 2017

    I’m good with grammarly. I have noticed some of the behavior you mention in the last month. I think it needs some bug fixes.

    I’ve been less impressed with alternatives like Ginger and WhiteSmoke. These apps are less stable than Grammarly, IMHO. I’ve been using Grammarly for 3 years as a paying customer and my writing is definitely better for it.

    Reply
  14. kariss Ainsworth9 August, 2017

    I have had loads of problems with it and had to uninstall it, which is a shame as it did help with my dyslexia. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to type anything at all as it would delete as I wrote or jump the cursor around as I typed leaving a page of random letters and it wouldn’t stop until I uninstalled it.

    Reply
  15. Dan Warner29 August, 2017

    I have had terrible problems with the program as a professor, trying to respond to students on the net, the cursor jumps all over the place. I thought at first it was Logitech mouse and key board, but no, I noticed it happened more when I miss typed a word, I had to shut if off, it was just to much. This happened also on my laptop as well, something is wrong here. Need to fix something.

    Reply
  16. Dan Warner29 August, 2017

    It’s a major problem, the cursor jumps all over the place, as prof typing on the net, it just went wild, could not get anything done. Turned it off and all is fine, this true for my laptop as well, something is wrong.

    Reply
  17. Fiona Cameron12 September, 2017

    I work as an editor on a news website, and installed Grammarly because I’m in the UK, but the website wants standardised US spelling. It’s useful for flagging up all the words where I need ‘ize’ rather than ‘ise’ etc, but the jumping cursor is such a damn nuisance, I think I’ll probably uninstall.

    Reply
  18. Mike D12 September, 2017

    @ Fiona Cameron

    I use Grammarly for Firefox and have just noticed the default is American English so I have changed to British English. Now to see if it is better.

    https://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/optional-commas.html#comment-form
    I felt that it tries to put in far too many commas (I’m a Brit)

    What bothered me

    Reply
  19. Caroline16 October, 2017

    Oh, absolutely! I have the same issues you have, and they drive me batty! Every paper I write comes back with “overused word” a thousand times and no other errors. But I write a lot of technical papers and have to “overuse” certain terms.

    Even worse, though, when I send an email I’ve written while Grammarly is on, they arrive at their destination blank on my boss’s computer. I’ve checked it from several devices, and it only happens when I use it, and it never happens otherwise. I’ve contacted Grammarly about this but have not had any response. I’m about to cancel my subscription also.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder16 October, 2017

      I have been told that the MSWord plugin works great, which might be true. But yes, the Chrome extension is terrible.

      Reply
  20. Dave27 October, 2017

    I’ve tried to use the free version Grammarly when posting on various forums, and found the error highlighting and suggestions very helpful – but I stopped using it because it was driving me insane – it wouldn’t let me fix errors myself without interfering – moving the cursor around like an annoying child while I’m trying to make corrections, causing worse errors.

    It seems obvious that it should only move the cursor and/or correct words if you’ve actually selected the corrections it offers, and it should leave you to it if you want to make corrections yourself. At the very least that should be an option (preferably the default).

    Reply
  21. […] has followed up its malfunctional Chrome browser extension with a couple keyboard apps for iOS and […]

    Reply
  22. charlie16 December, 2017

    This jumping around when trying to edit something I’ve already written is still a problem with Grammarly. Happens quite frequently to me. After experiencing this for over a month, I’m about ready to give up on it, too.

    Reply
  23. Jean K16 December, 2017

    while I’m still not having the Grammarly woes that most of you experience, I did find out that the latest iteration of the software is now embedding data-gramm attributes into the HTML pages in which Grammarly is enabled. Luckily, there’s a way to turn Grammarly off for specific domains in Chrome. However, I don’t remember seeing any technical notes mentioning that Grammarly had started to embed data- attributes into HTML5 pages. That is NOT cool. I haven’t canceled my subscription yet because I still find the service useful and they did give me a way to opt out of using Grammarly on specific domains… but WTH? Why no open notice to users about the data-gramm attributes? This is a recent, within the last 3 months thing too.

    Reply
  24. Linda M Peavy13 February, 2018

    I am having the same problem. After I purchased the monthly subscription, I can hardly type an email without Grammarly jumping around the words and slowing down the pace of my writing. I am ready to quit it.

    Reply
  25. Maddie W4 July, 2018

    It gets worse on mobile. Sometimes the keyboard extension lags behind so my letters type super slow and I’m pretty sure it’s been making errors on its own. I’ll type a word and after a few more sentences I’ll finally notice a red underline and the word is suddenly misspelled when it wasn’t before. Sometimes it corrects me when I’m not even done typing, so then I’m forced to type faster. Super annoying to use on mobile.

    Reply
  26. Dave5 July, 2018

    I’ve not had a problem with it in the last few weeks (and I notice an updated Google Chrome extension is out today) – in the forums where I had to turn it off, it’s stopped moving the cursor around and only underlines errors when I’ve stopped typing. If I go to correct an error myself, it goes quiet and doesn’t activate again until I move on. For me, problem solved.

    Reply
  27. Maximilian Freeminder8 November, 2018

    lol, all this grammar apps, has mostly a common purpose, sharing your content to metadata for CIA/FBI to register and analyse… 😉 so be warned, when I tell you that those apps are becoming more regular with hidden “codes” 😉

    Reply

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