Last week I wrote about how in a previous blog I managed to use the word “fight” twenty-seven times without realizing it. Part of my writing process is to run things through Grammarly to catch any grammatical errors I might have missed on MS Word. One thing that the free version of Grammarly does not do is pick up repetitive words. Only the paid version does that. In case you’re wondering, the subscription runs about $11.66 per month, or $139.95 for a year.
In fairness to the creators of Grammarly, it’s probably worth every penny. I am a big fan of the free version, but when you’re an independent writer with two kids who need summer camp and a mortgage, you have to choose your priorities. This week I reviewed five other programs that offer a free subscription. I run my pre-corrections blog through them and compared the results with the one I got from Grammarly.
My criteria for this experiment was other than the program being free, it had to be web-based as I didn’t want to download any apps to my Macbook.
Prowritingaid was recommended to me by a friend. The free version of this app is an upgrade from Grammarly as it identifies repetitive wording. When I put my draft in, the program immediately picked up on my usage of the word “fight” and as a bonus, it pointed similar phrasing that I had used. The program found the same mistakes that Grammarly did. What I liked most about Prowritingaid were the reports it offered, such as Readability and Structure. However, there was one drawback to the program that would make me avoid Prowritingaid. When you use the free version, while you can upload your whole manuscript, the program will only catch echoing words at a rate of 500 words at a time.
Out of the sites I tested, Slick White was a favorite. Slick White allowed me to upload the entire document. It caught the repetition that had eluded Grammarly and provided a very in-depth analysis of the blog. The readability function shows the author the grade level of the writing.
It highlights grammar issues; however, it does not provide the corrections that the writer would see in Grammarly.
Paper Rater is one of the more basic programs that I reviewed. While the grammar check gave a report similar to the one Grammarly provided, it did not highlight the repetitions. One nice feature it had that I did not see in other programs was the plagiarism checker. As a student, I can see the value in Paper Rater and would probably be more likely to use it if I was writing a term paper. However, it’s not enough to convince me to drop Grammarly as my tracker.
Confession time, I used Hemingway before when I first started writing. The app works by the user uploading their manuscript and then the app runs the analysis. The document’s corrections are highlighted in different colors, depending on the type of error.
As you work on the corrections, the app provides real-time analysis of readability. A major drawback is that there are no suggestions provided to the writer as they work. While you are limited in Grammarly’s free version, the app will provide suggestions for grammatical corrections.
Reverso was the one app I would probably avoid. While it does have an excellent translation tool and grammatical analysis that identifies repetition, there is a severe limitation. Writers can only upload a couple of hundred words at a time. The inability to load a full document doesn’t make it worth it to me. However, if you are a writer looking to translate your work into another language, consider checking it out. I had my husband look at the English to French translation and he found it fairly accurate. Much more so than Google Translate.
Grammarly is still my favorite service, but ProWritingAid and Slick White made me consider using a second software as a back-up. Happy writing and stay safe!