A blog post for grammar nerds

I dread typos, misspellings, and bad writing.

Today I installed Grammarly, a chrome extension that checks spelling and grammar while writing. This story started as a test to see if I want to use Grammarly on blog posts.

It turned into something so much more. Grammarly acts like a person and I am not sure I like her. Call me sexist, but in my mind, she is a she. Perhaps in this day of non-binary gender, Grammarly prefers different pronouns. (I really can’t keep up with the pronoun thing.)

Grammarly is a comma nut. She insists there is a comma before “and” in a series. I remember learning at some point that this was a style choice. It resembles choices like the length of a hemline or hair color after the age of 40. There is no correct answer.

According to a 3,000-word essay on Wikipedia, serial commas really are a matter of choice, but there are folks out there who take this comma debate very seriously.

My choice, because I’m from New York City is no serial comma.

So there.

According to Wikipedia, The New York Times Stylebook demands no serial comma. I’ve been reading the NY Times since I was 10-years-old (OK, I only read Arts and Leisure but that counts.} My complaint about Grammarly is that for as long as I’m blogging, it will nag me and insist I use the serial comma. Knowing me, I will cave. It’s easier to go along, but I’m sure I’ll be grumbling all the way.

Team Serial Comma points out that in cases of ambiguity the serial comma is necessary. In Maine, for example, there was a lawsuit that literally hung on the confusing interpretation of whether “canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution” of certain goods were activities exempted from the general requirement of overtime pay. (Source: Wikipedia) The serial comma was an unfortunate omission. But it’s rarely needed; in my mind it’s extraneous.

Grammarly is a saleswoman. She tells me she has 14 advanced grammar suggestions for this article. But it will cost $9 a month to find out what the “advanced suggestions” are, she says, That’s a lot of advanced suggestions and I remain ignorant of them because I am cheap.

Grammarly is also judgemental (like a 10th-grade English teacher). She rates this article as “Optimistic, admiring and formal” She also suggests that I make it more “confident”.

What does that mean? I guess I will only know if I cough up the $9 month.

Have you used Grammarly? Did it positively affect your writing? If the app were a person what would she/he look like? Do you have any thoughts on how to make this post “more confident”.

12 comments

  1. I am definitely too cheap to pay $9 a month for Grammarly. I would not use the optional comma in a series either. As far as pronouns to, I prefer to write my own sentences. If I needed to brush up on my grammar, I would take a short, free course online and leave it at that. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have used the free version of Grammarly and of ProWriting Aid before paying for the basic version of ProWriting Aid. I use it at the last stage of my editing, because it is easy to actually add typos while editing. However many times I have edited a story, ProWritingAid will find glitches I have missed and that I agree with.
    It will also find things I don’t agree with, but I know why I don’t agree with them. (When I began proofreading and line-editing our writing group’s stories for self-publication I did A LOT of research on punctuation and English usage.)
    Serial commas are, indeed, up to the author. Mostly. Our writers (including me) are of an age not to use them naturally. (Some barely use commas at all, but that’s another issue. Or full stops. Others pepper their work with too many commas.) Very occasionally I add a serial comma to prevent ambiguity. Then I have to go back and apply them throughout that story for the sake of consistency, so I don’t add them lightly.
    Yes, commas are often a matter of preference. Not always.
    Grammarly is only a set of algorithms; it can’t understand the meaning or feeling you are trying to get across. But it’s helpful to know why Grammarly (or ProWrite) is giving you that advice before you ignore it.

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  3. I installed Grammarly recently and am glad I did. My keyboard often leaves out letters so it’s particularly helpful. I use serial commas. My husband checked a short story I wrote recently and said I’d gone way overboard on the comma front. I have now cut back, but still use serial commas.
    It’s interesting because there are a few typos in the comments here. A suggestion perhaps for greater proofreading. Also, there’s that expectation of what should be there when you’re editing your own work, and you miss what’s there.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was an extremely entertaining read!! I refuse to pay a single cent for anything that deals with grammar. I’m a bit ocd-ish with grammar and spelling, and although I’m not always 100% correct, I’d much rather fail every now and then vs paying “her”, whoever “she” is, to have everything perfect. We’re human after all … and there’s so much fun in humanity!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • First of all thank you for saing it was “entertaining!” Made my day. I agree about imperfections. Supposedly in Japanese knitting they actuslly bake in the imperfections because it’s part of being human. A very good point. That said I am finding the typo tool in Grammarly very useful.

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