You don’t have to be an English major to rock perfect grammar—just let a grammar checker do it for you. They act as your personal editor and ensure that your writing looks professional before you publish or submit it.
While most word processors have built-in spelling and grammar check features, it’s still nice to have a second opinion. Even professional writers and famous novelists have editors that look over their work before it’s published, so don’t feel stressed over using an online grammar checker for your own writing.
Proofreading apps automatically scan your writing to look for problematic mistakes like spelling errors, incorrect punctuation usage, weak or vague words, subject-verb disagreements, and other errors. They are nice to have if you aren’t a grammar geek but still have to write on a regular basis for work or school. And, with more people working from home than ever before, good communication over text is paramount.
Update, 2/17/22: Checked that content is up to date. Swapped out SlickWrite for Ginger.
While these services won’t write your quarterly report or argumentative essay for you (darn!), they can polish them and make them easier to read, which is all any of us can really ask for. Here are the qualities we think matter the most in a grammar checker:
- Accuracy: The best grammar checker must be able to run a thorough analysis of your writing to give you an accurate report of any issues it may contain. You’d expect high accuracy from a professional editor, and these services are no different.
- Helpful Explanations: In addition to being able to find errors, a proofreading service should also be able to tell you why something is incorrect and how to properly fix it. In part, the service acts like an English tutor, helping you gain a better understanding of grammar so that your writing will be stronger and more precise in the future.
- Integrations: Odds are, you write more frequently than you think you do, in chats, emails, social media comments, blog posts, academic papers, work memos, etc. Grammar checkers should have your back wherever you write, and offer browser extensions and integrations for popular apps and word processors, like Gmail, Twitter, or Google Docs.
- Ease of Use: Writing can sometimes be stressful enough on its own, and the last thing you want is to be dealing with a program that’s difficult to use. The best proofreading services have intuitive interfaces where features are clearly labeled, and straightforward reports that are simple to digest.
Grammarly (Free, with paid plans) is a powerful grammar checker that’s super easy to use and designed to help improve the tone and style of your writing. It’s available as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari that you can use pretty much everywhere you’d write, from Twitter and Google Docs to Slack, Gmail, WordPress, Medium, and others. Grammarly also offers a mobile keyboard app for iOS and Android devices with similar functionality.
The basic free plan looks out for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, and offers basic suggestions on limited sites like Google Docs. The Premium plan ($12/month, billed annually) is more robust and the best option for heavy writers. It includes everything in the basic plan and has your back when it comes to improving fluency and readability, swapping in stronger vocabulary choices, varying sentence lengths, and detecting proper tone and formality levels. This plan is supported on every site and opens up full suggestions on Google Docs, and it automatically checks for plagiarism. Although Grammarly’s Premium plan is the most expensive one on this list, its rich set of tools and ability to edit in text boxes across the internet makes it a must-have for any writer.
Grammarly goes beyond checking for basic spelling and grammar mistakes (which, of course, it does a great job with) to give you exhaustive writing support. As it scans your text, it gives you clear explanations of each error, along with quick suggestions for fixing them. Overall, it’s easy to understand why Grammarly is the most popular grammar checker, as its high accuracy, excellent easy to use interface, and solid writing insights make it a powerful for anyone to use.
ProWritingAid ($20/month, $79/year, or $399/lifetime) is the most comprehensive proofreading service and is available as a Chrome extension or desktop, with word processor integration options. It gives you in-depth (yet not overwhelming) reports on your writing and helps you understand why a mistake is wrong just like a writing mentor would, so you can learn to avoid making those mistakes in the future. It also checks your grammar and the overall style of your text while providing you with a thorough report for each document so you can see mistakes and strengthen your writing organically.
The grammar checker is popular with professional writers, as it helps improve readability, ensure consistency, identify problematic words or phrases, and catch small or rare errors that many other checkers might miss. It even checks for plagiarism, catches cliches and redundancies, and watches out for incorrect punctuation usage. By helping you identify errors and problematic mistakes that make writing dull or difficult to read, ProWritingAid, in turn, helps you create better writing even if you aren’t an English major or professional writer yourself. Overall, ProWritingAid is powerful, effective, and easy to use.
If you don’t want to pay for a service to check your grammar, that’s understandable. With Ginger (Free), you don’t have to. And, what’s more, you can use either the website version or download the Chrome extension—whichever is most convenient. There is also integration with Microsoft Word and Outlook, as well as apps for Windows, for Mac, for iOS and for Android.
The service makes fast work out of analyzing your text, ensuring you have solid sentence structure, no passive voice uses, no unnecessary adverbs, and that it’s readable. Its interface is clean, simple, and intuitive. From the sidebar, you can get additional help understanding parts of speech or learning about commonly misspelled and confused words.
What’s more, Ginger offers additional functionality with its optional Premium plan (starts at $7.49/month). The nifty upgrade nets you translation to over 40 languages, a full Microsoft Office add-in, unlimited rephrasing, synonym suggestions, unlimited AI-powered corrections, and the ability to correct multiple mistakes simultaneously.
Hemingway (Free) offers a different take than the other grammar checkers—it focuses on analyzing the overall readability of your document. Why would you need this, you ask? Because writing can have other issues beyond spelling and grammar: it can be wordy or difficult to read. The app is named for author Ernest Hemingway, who was known for his concise and clear writing, and it aims to help bring those qualities to your writing as well.
You can use the free web-based version, or pay a one-time fee of $19.99 for the desktop app. With either version, all you need to do is write within the given text box (or copy and paste text from elsewhere), and Hemingway automatically highlights problematic words or sentences. The app color-codes issues for easier reading, so you can spot errors like passive voice, adverb use, and sentences that are lengthy and complex.
We must note, however, that Hemingway won’t catch spelling or punctuation errors—you’ll need to use a different grammar checker or the default one in your word processor in addition to this one. Overall, Hemingway is a powerful tool great for making your writing more powerful and concise (and he’s a terrific author).