Why Grammarly’s so popular? And Why That Might Be a Problem.

Grammarly may be the most popular grammar checker in the world. “Popular” means people like it. “Popular” can also mean “really good marketing.”

That’s not the problem.

Grammarly has been super-well marketed as an internet-based company. The customer service seems great to me. The website is attractive and very easy to use. That’s important, because Grammarly is an internet-based grammar checker. It runs online. I like that and a lot of other people do, too. There are other good grammar checkers that need to be installed on your computer. You may or may not prefer that.

But people don’t use a Grammar checker because it looks pretty, or even because they are easy to use.

People use grammar checkers because they feel that the grammar checker finds their errors.

Let’s say that again, people use grammar checkers because they FEEL that the grammar checker finds their errors. That’s right. They feel that the grammar checker helps them.

And here’s where English language learners might have a problem.

Learners might feel that certain grammar rules are more important than they really are.

I wrote earlier that Grammarly can definitely help learners correct their writing IF learners can correctly evaluate what Grammarly tells them.

That’s where we, as teachers, can really help our students.

We need to make sure our students understand

  • Grammarly uses rules.
  • Grammarly uses rules based on the “right way.”
  • There is no “right way.”

I like to tell my writing students

You can do anything you want as long as you do it on purpose.

And that’s what we need to teach our students: Do it on purpose. That means, if Grammarly tells you that you are using passive voice (which it seems to love to do), YOU need to decide if you want to use passive voice.

If Grammarly tells you that you are ending a sentence with a preposition, you decide if this is a real error or a silly grammar myth. HINT: ELT International thinks it’s a silly grammar myth.

Grammarly checks for a lot of rules so that its users feel that it’s catching everything. That’s understandable and it’s good marketing.

It’s up to the user to decide to accept or ignore Grammarly’s advice.

And Grammarly seems fully aware of all this. It allows the user to “turn off” a rule and it also allows the user to choose the style of writing being checked. For example, choosing “academic” writing may cause Grammarly to use more of the formal rules than choosing “creative” writing does.

StudyDo will be giving you a chance to practice choosing which of Grammarly’s rules to follow and which to ignore with a contest. Sign up to download the free book, Bridges to Academic Writing and you’ll get an email with the links needed to participate in the contest, or read more about the contest here.

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