Grammar Wars: A Software Showdown

Most sporting events, award first, second and third place. There may be hundreds of competitors, but only the top three get recognition. Likewise, when it comes to writing software; (specifically editing software), I am going to cover the top three. All three of these programs will blow away a regular word processor when it comes to basic grammar and spelling. The three big contenders are Grammarly , ProWritingAid , and the Hemingway Editor . Yes, I have used all three, but I will be dropping one of them shortly.

The most prominent budget for advertising goes to Grammarly, hands down. You can see it advertised on YouTube, Facebook, blogs, and websites all across the world wide web.

A lot of writers, especially those who use Scrivener, prefer ProWritingAid.

The underdog, and least known by most is the Hemingway Editor.

A lot of people like to root for the underdog, so that's where I will start. The Hemingway Editor is the least expensive of all three programs with a one-time purchase price of $ 19.99. Keep in mind all three have free versions available. One of the beautiful things about this program is you do NOT need internet access, to use it. It focusses on five main areas to improve your writing. These areas include readability, adverbs, passive voice, word choice, and sentence structure. You can export to a variety of formats including HTML, PDF, text, and Word. Add this to your existing word processing program, and you will raise the quality of your work.

As mentioned Grammarly is VERY popular and with good reason. Besides being able to use it in your novel or short story, it can be used on email and in the Chrome browser. That means no need to be embarrassed when you post to your Writer's Group in Facebook and use the wrong version of effect (for example). It has a Word plug-in that works great in Windows, but not so much on the Mac. It has good vocabulary enhancement suggestions and is compatible with more than 30 file types. It has a plagiarism checker, and according to the website, the paid version has over 400 + checks and features. Please note, I HAVE the paid version, and I have no idea what those features include. Some will argue, you get what you pay for, but be warned. The cost of this program is $ 139.95 per year.

ProWritingAid has the most compatibility with Windows and Mac operating systems. It works great with top word processing programs like Word, Scrivener, Open Office, Google Docs and more. It has a Word Explorer feature that contains a thesaurus, a dictionary, reverse dictionary, collocation dictionary, alliteration dictionary, cliché 'dictionary, rhymes and example usages from poetry, prose, and songs. It has over 25 reports that examine different areas of your writing, that includes contextual spelling, grammar and punctuation checking. This means it gives recommendations based on what you actually write, not from some outdated rule book. The price of this software starts at $ 40.00 per year, but it also has an option of $ 140.00 for a lifetime license.

So, who won the gold? To answer that I decided to give all three a test. I did this on Thanksgiving Day 2017. I selected a 1200 word scene from one of my works in progress. Since Grammarly seemed to be the heavy favorite, I started there. I used the plugin for Word 2016 and received 15 Critical errors. Then just for fun, I ran it online where it said I had 9 Critical errors AND 24 Advanced issues (because I had the paid edition.) Fifteen verses Thirty-three, strange. I thought it was the same program, but apparently not.

The Hemingway Editor was much more consistent coming up with 36 errors both online and stand alone. Yes, the cheapest of the three found twice as many as the most expensive program in the group. Makes me wonder.

Now, the moment of truth, ProWritingAid found 222 errors in 22 separate detailed reports using the same 1200 word document. They offered easy to understand explanations for everything they marked. I'm not saying I would use all 222 recommendations, but even if I only accepted 50%, that's a whole lot more than the other two.

So, in summary, ProWritingAid took the Gold, Hemingway Editor took the Silver, and in a distant third place, Grammarly took the bronze. Remember when I said I would be dropping one of these shortly? Guess which one I'm no longer using. If you don't like these results, run your own tests. (There are free online versions of each.) Play with all three and decide who won the Grammar War for you.

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