Typos, misplaced commas, mismatched pronouns, and other grammatical sins can slip into even the most experienced grammarian’s prose. While simple spellcheckers are better than nothing, they let a lot slip through the cracks. That’s why Grammarly, with its helpful AI-based spelling, grammar, and style advice, has become popular enough to inspire competition from one of the original spellcheckers: Microsoft. Microsoft Editor is now available in browsers as well as in Microsoft Office, and while it has some catching up to do if it wants to rival Grammarly, it’s worth a look if you’re already an Office user.
Grammarly has the clear edge here. It’s available as:
- Chrome and Firefox browser extensions
- Web app
- Desktop app
- Microsoft Word add-in
- iOS and Android keyboards
Microsoft Word is limited to:
- Chrome extension (also works in Edge, Brave, and other Chromium browsers)
- Microsoft Word (both the online and desktop versions)
- Microsoft Outlook
This makes Microsoft Editor primarily useful for users who are already using Word and/or Outlook. Its Chrome extension isn’t quite where it should be yet, either, as it doesn’t support certain sites, including ones where you’d expect it to, like Google Docs. And while you can open an online Word document and use Microsoft Editor, it’s definitely clunkier than opening up Grammarly.com and copy-pasting your text.
Grammarly’s browser extensions work pretty much everywhere, and their other platforms are all easy to use and nicely integrated.
Winner: Grammarly. Microsoft Editor is very new, so it may catch up, but Grammarly is just easier to get to right now.
Microsoft Editor and Grammarly both have some core features available for free:
- Grammar/punctuation checking
These aren’t exactly identical (more on that later) but they both fulfill the basic conditions for a good grammar-checking program: they catch most of your mistakes and help you improve in a few areas. They both use AI to improve results and take context into account when making suggestions.
Grammarly offers more for free than Editor does, though. This ncludes clarity and conciseness checks, as well as the ability to set how formal you want your text to be and what level of knowledge your audience has.
Even the free version of Microsoft Editor provides suggestions in more than 20 languages, though, while Grammarly only supports English.
If you upgrade to premium, both Grammarly and Editor give you:
- Advanced grammar and style checks
- Readability checks
- Vocabulary suggestions
- Plagiarism detection (coming soon in Microsoft Editor)
- Tone/formality checker
- Inclusive/sensitive language check
Grammarly also adds the ability to tailor your writing to a certain genre (academic, business, creative, etc.). It even gives you the option to hire a human proofreader for an extra charge. The basic features all also get upgrades, with more thorough checking of your delivery and advice on how to make your sentences more engaging.
Microsoft Editor’s premium offering is definitely behind Grammarly in terms of writing correction features, but it is worth noting that you get Editor by subscribing to Microsoft 365. That means you get full access to a suite of high-quality office software (Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Teams, and a terabyte of cloud storage) along with Microsoft Editor. The subscription price is actually cheaper than what you pay for Grammarly alone.
Winner: Grammarly. It does more stuff, and as the next section will show, most of its features are better than the Microsoft Editor equivalent.
While the quality of the feedback is probably the most important metric for a grammar-checker, it’s also one of the most difficult to measure. The algorithms behind the AI are constantly updating and even adjusting to different writing styles.
In side-by-side tests, Grammarly usually catches more mistakes, and its explanations are much more comprehensive, so it’s definitely the more thorough option. In my experience, it also turns up more false positives than Microsoft Editor, though. You have to be able to identify which of its suggestions you want to keep.
Editor flags fewer things, and its suggestions are more basic, but it tends to be right about the things it catches. That makes it a bit faster since there’s less to weed through, and in terms of catching medium-to-large grammar and punctuation errors, it’s about on par with Grammarly. It’s also much more tweakable, with a detailed menu allowing you to select exactly which grammar and vocabulary you want it to keep an eye on.
Neither Grammarly nor Microsoft Editor can catch everything, though. They don’t make bad writing good so much as they make good writing better.
Winner: Grammarly and Microsoft Editor are both quite good at the basic level, but Grammarly outmatches Editor for more complex corrections and style tips, especially when you compare the premium versions.
Why not both?
The free version of Grammarly has a slight edge over the free version of Microsoft Editor, and the premium version of Grammarly is more powerful than its Microsoft equivalent in almost every way. If you want to maximize your writing feedback, then, Grammarly is the clear choice. Microsoft Editor’s main advantage is that it’s a bit simpler and faster. But it also gets you all that office software, so that may be a deciding factor if you’re on the lookout for value.
Microsoft Editor can’t really go toe-to-toe with Grammarly as an AI writing coach right now, but it is still very new and will likely improve a lot with time. Both programs have free versions, though, so there’s nothing to stop you from paying for one and also using the free version of the other. I usually run Editor first, then use Grammarly for polish.
Apart from Grammarly and Microsoft Editor, Ginger is yet another spellchecker you can check out.
Image credit: Person’s Hand Marking Error During Spellchecking by DepositPhotos