Writing in a manner suited to the communicative context is anything but a no-brainer. The question becomes even more complicated if you have to write in a foreign language. When you don’t have a native English speaker readily available, proofreading software such as Grammarly can be a good solution. But can you really consider a technologically advanced programme like Grammarly as a valid substitute for the work of a professional proofreader? In this article we will explain when Grammarly is appropriate and when it’s best to rely on a professional in the sector to obtain a quality text.
WHAT IS GRAMMARLY? AND WHAT IS ITS POTENTIAL?
Grammarly is an online platform that was launched in 2009 that allows to identify spelling, grammatical, stylistic and lexical errors in English texts. It also points out potential cases of plagiarism and offers alternative solutions to problems in the text. A free version is available as a mobile app or as an extension of Microsoft Office and various browsers, including Chrome, Safari and Firefox. The paid premium version offers a wide range of features (word suggestions, search for appropriate terms and expressions in over 16 million websites, plagiarism check, etc.). The effectiveness of a service like Grammarly lies in the fact that the software is highly customisable according to your needs: you can choose between the geographic variants of modern English (British, American, Australian or Canadian) and between different tones of voice (formal, informal, neutral).
THE ADVANTAGES OF GRAMMARLY
It’s easy to understand the success of an automatic proofreader with these capabilities, especially if you consider its convenience: Grammarly lets you make ad hoc corrections for the type of text you intend to write, saving time and money compared to what you would invest to collaborate with a professional proofreader.
The intuitive use of Grammarly makes it particularly suitable for students and bloggers. Does this mean that you can entrust the correction of an English text you’ve written as a non-native English speaker to a platform like Grammarly and obtain a final product that does not need any revisions by a real person? Let’s go into a bit more detail to answer this question.
THE WEAKNESSES OF GRAMMARLY
What aspects of a text can create problems for autocorrect software?
Academic and scientific English frequently uses passive verbs, which give the text a certain impersonality by shifting attention to the result of a certain action. However, most proofreading software tends to report the use of passive voice and favour the active form, and having to reject reports which include a number of these indications could be a waste of time for a scientific text writer.
Structuring the sentences of a text in a repetitive manner is a common mistake for non-native English speakers, and can be easily solved by incorporating shorter sentences into longer ones or by using subordinate conjunctions. This kind of linguistic unevenness is difficult for autocorrect software to spot (especially if it does not contain repetitions of single words, or grammatical and spelling errors) but is immediately noted by experienced editors.
Sometimes while writing we forget to add or accidentally delete small parts of a sentence, or even skip them due to a lack of inattention. An automatic checker cannot detect something that’s not there, especially if it’s an article or a single word that does not change the meaning of the sentence.
It is true that Grammarly is programmed to recognise the most suitable linguistic register based on the vocabulary used or the syntax of the sentences used. Sometimes, however, writing requires a certain flexibility in the chosen tone of voice: for example, you might have to insert a particularly formal quotation in a completely informal text, which will be highlighted by Grammarly as an error.
CONCLUSION: TRUST GRAMMARLY OR HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PROOFREADER?
Autocorrect software can do a lot, but it certainly can’t do everything, thus it must be used consciously. Despite being a fast, efficient and convenient tool, it still has limitations dictated by the rigidity with which it was programmed. If you are unfamiliar with English grammar, syntax and linguistic registers, blindly trusting Grammarly and accepting all its corrections could lead to an end result that is difficult to read, perhaps unnatural to native speakers. If you need to correct a very long and complex text such as an academic paper or a scientific article, turn to professional proofreaders who can quickly grasp the nuances of the context and adapt the language accordingly. It will prove to be the wiser choice, without a shadow of doubt. If you are considering such a service, Translation Agency would be happy to help: simply contact us, also online, without any commitment.
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