Who is Proofing Your Writing?

How I used Grammarly to improve my writing

August 2014

One of the toughest things for me as I started working on my guides was writing better. I used to be a great writer. Unfortunately, my writing skills have eroded over the years thanks to texting and slang-filled social media chatter. As I started paying attention to my sentence constructs, I found to my dismay that I couldn’t remember the proper English rules. I was missing the criticisms of all my past English teachers! Thankfully, I stumbled upon Grammarly, an online grammar checking tool.

Grammar checking tools have rarely impressed me in the past. More often than not, they flagged a lot of false positives that I end up just ignoring. One of the first things I did after signing up for Grammarly was feed several chapters to the tool and start correcting my many, many mistakes. As I began going through my chapters and correcting based on suggestions from Grammarly, my writing actually began to improve of its own accord. Grammarly doesn’t just flag grammatical mistakes. It also offers a detailed explanation along with great examples of correct and incorrect uses. With this kind of detailed feedback, I was quickly correcting and writing better prose.

Spotting Frequent Mistake

My biggest offense is writing in the passive voice and inserting redundant adverbs such as “definitely,” “very,” and “literally.” Both of these habits began to rapidly self-correct with Grammarly constantly catching these offenses. I’m often stuck trying to figure out a better way to write something. Sometimes, I’m just staring at the sentences without really knowing why the verbiage sucks. With a proof-reader telling me it’s in passive voice or has redundant adverbs or whatever, I quickly identified and adjusted the wording. The suggested alternative wording is often the kicker needed to rapidly restate the sentences, which means I stay highly productive in my writing effort by quickly cutting to the chase in the proofing/editing process.

I know I frequently write passively or throw in adverbs where they’re not needed, but these are the kind of writing mistakes I don’t really spot, even when I’m watching out for them. They are just a part of who I am. An automatic proofing tool shines a bright light on this aspect of my writing and helps me clean up frequent stylistic mistakes.

Unexpected Mistakes Illuminated

Instant messaging and social media short-cut dialog has completely sullied my long-form writing skills. My main downfall in this area is fragmented sentences, which are ok in spoken dialog, but a big “no-no” in written form. I’ve communicated in short-form mediums so much so that I became completely oblivious to how I was constructing my sentences. Nowhere did I feel the heavy hand of my past English teachers than here with fragmented sentences.

Another unexpected illumination is how I often left repeated words as a result of editing. I’ll often write two or three sentences, then read them and edit into one sentence, but leave a word repeated in the final sentence. I couldn’t believe I was doing this at least once in every chapter written so far. Just spotting and clearing up this one simple mistake makes me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth from Grammarly.

Mistakes So Common, You’ll Miss Them

Did you konw that eevn wehn wrods are badly misspelled the raeder can still raed yuor sentcenes wtih reltaive ease? By the smae token it is esay for gracamtmial mistekas to hide from the author. Without a second pair of eyes to proof your writing, it can be difficult to spot and correct your mistakes. In my case, catching mistakes with commas, wrong use of “its” vs. “it’s” becomes trivial with Grammarly’s help. This is one area Grammarly can throw some false positives, but Grammarly was also more apt to be correct than wrong. So, unlike past tools I’ve used that were replete with so many false positives, I basically ignored the flagged errors, I at least find myself carefully weighing each of Grammarly’s suggested fixes before dismissing them.

Better Writing

I have been writing for a while without a grammar checking tool to fall back on. If you find yourself wishing you had a second pair of eyes to look over your writing before hitting that publish button or just need to regain a sense of confidence that you’re writing solidly, then give grammar checking tools a try. There are quite a few out there, but Grammarly’s the first one I found that I actually enjoy using and will continue using.

I spoke to Liliya Tyndyk, affiliate marketing manager over at Grammarly and was able to secure a special deal of 40% off Grammarly’s subscription for all Cybrains readers. click here to get started with their free-trial today.

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