I have just used Grammarly's free plagiarism checker because of my suspicion that wombats from space are stealing my beautiful words and using them in Sinister Ways. (And if that is the funniest reason anyone puts this month, I get a prize).
But in all seriousness, I agreed to review Grammarly in exchange for compensation because I am keenly aware that my blog is not proof-read adequately; many is the time I have noticed errors in past posts, and winced in pain. Many is the time I have read the words of others, and felt that their crisp professionalism made my own blog look a little....wilted. Un-professional. Run up by loving hands at home. So I was eager to see how helpful Grammarly would be in solving (at least some of) my problems.
Grammarly is a grammar and spell checker--you copy the text you want checked into the box, and select the style of your writing--(general, business, academic, creative, casual, etc.). Though I would like my blog to be "creative," and though "academic" also comes easily, I decided that "casual" was the best fit. It is incredibly easy to use--you just paste your text into the box and hit the 'start review' button, and all possible issues are clearly and rapidly brought to your attention. As well as seeing each error with your document in real time, as it were, you can save or print a copy of the report, which would be useful for longer docments.
The post I selected for my first try was my review of The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog. The Casual grammar check gave me a score of 82 out of 100, with seven issues found. It's major issue with my writing was my generous use of commas. In some cases I disagreed-- for instance, in "Every time he uses it, anger moves closer to the surface" I feel that the comma is valuable. But I did take out the comma in "he risks loosing himself, and harming his family."
Next I tried it on my review of the novel version of My Neighbor Totoro. A 70 out of 100, with one that made me shudder: "So the whole package is just lovely and the illustrations by Miyazaki, are
charming." I have fixed this.
For my final try, I ran my review of Jinx's Magic. Eeks! 57 out of 100. But phew--most of them were words the spell check didn't recognize. However, I took out a nasty little extra space, which I'm glad is gone. Grammarly and I disagreed again about commas. I can't help it--I like to put them in where I would pause in talking. I think it sets a nice conversational tone.
Grammarly also has a plagiarism feature that lets you know if your text matches anything else on the web. So not only are you be alerted to possible plagiarism that you are committing yourself, you can see if anyone else is plagiarizing your work.
In addition, there is a spelling feature that not only catches your common or garden errors but which alerts you to embarrassing confusions of to too and two, and affect and effect, which fills a gap in most spell checkers.
Final verdict--I think this would be a very useful tool to a professional writer who doesn't have a proof-reader on hand; if I ever were to start writing seriously myself, or if I were still in graduate school, I would definitely consider subscribing. I think it would be incredibly useful for a writer who wasn't a native speaker of English. And (deliberate grammatical error) for as long as I have my trial subscription, I will run my posts through it.
I think that bloggers who schedule posts in advance might well find it more handy than bloggers like me who press "post" when they realize that, once again, the kids are going to be late for school if they don't get up now. That being said, such bloggers are the ones who might benefit most, since proofreading becomes a sometime thing.
(What I really need, though, is something that checks to make sure that I have characters' names and the spelling of fantasy places correct in my posts. It took 10 months before someone was kind enough to point out that in Jinx it's really the Urwald, not the Urwold, wince wince.)
If you want to try it yourself, you can sign up for a free seven day trial. An annual subscription is $11.66 a month; monthly and quarterly subscriptions are slightly more.
Final word--I have just run this post through Grammarly. It now has three fewer commas. Sigh.
Disclaimer: this post was written in exchange for compensation from Grammarly. To share that with you all, just leave a comment (proof-reading related) by midnight next Sunday, to be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.