Whether you’re writing or editing, and whether you’re working on a paper for school, an item that will be published, or even just correspondence, you want to be very sure it is clear of errors, there are a plenitude of online sites, software, and apps that will do the editing job for you. However, there aren’t many that will also check for plagiarism.
Plagiarism is an even larger worry now than it was pre-Internet. It is so much easier to steal someone else’s hard-earned work, and sometimes it can be by accident if you haven’t properly cited your source. In my extensive search, Grammarly.com is the only place that will catch all of the plagiarism and do a fine job of catching all grammatical errors too. However, it does come with a steep price ($29.95 per month). The question is if it’s worth it.
Part of the hangup with signing up is it comes with a small Catch-22. After pasting in your text to be checked, Grammarly tells you what is wrong with it but doesn’t show you the errors themselves until you sign up. It comes with a seven-day free trial, but you can’t start the trial until you give them either your credit card or Paypal information. You can cancel at the end of seven days with no charges applied, although that can be a very hard thing to remember to do.
I decided to bite the bullet and try Grammarly. My journalistic instincts were pushing me to find out if this is something worthwhile of my dime or not. After signing up with my Paypal information, the site immediately told me that my browser wasn’t supported and suggested Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome. I was checking on an iPad, but again I wanted to know if it would work or not, so I progressed on. I checked for Plagiarism first. As suspected, much of this work I was checking was plagiarized. Grammarly determined that 57% of the article should have been cited to another source. It didn’t just tell me it could be plagiarized, it highlighted all the stolen copy in red and showed me how to fix the work to be properly cited.
I abandoned the stolen work and decided to check one of my own articles. It asked me what type of writing I was aiming for, which is definitely helpful. I have a more casual writing style, so checking my text for a business style of prose wouldn’t be worthwhile.
Grammarly moved through my text showing me all the “errors.” It makes suggestions and tells you to check it as well. Sometimes they don’t really need fixing. The non-human editor can’t detect if these are actual errors. It highlighted “the plagiarism” and suggested I change to just “plagiarism”. That wouldn’t work out in this case because of the word “the.” Had I gone and published with all of Grammarly’s corrections, it would read very strangely. Nevertheless, it did find a punctuation error that I did end up changing.
This takes us back to the original question. Is Grammarly worth that steep price? The answer relies completely on what you intend to do with the article. If you want to check someone else’s work for plagiarism, or even your own to be sure it’s properly cited, it’s worth it. If you are only checking for grammar errors, there are other free sites, software, and apps that will do a similar job, but perhaps not as thoroughly. If I had something that was of extreme importance, it would be worth every penny paid to be sure that every nook and cranny of the text was examined, and that’s precisely
with what Grammarly does.
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