Have you ever wanted a magical editing wand?
Just imagine: A flick of the wrist is all that would stand between you and the end of editing your writing. No frustration. Minimal time investment. An amazing manuscript or blog post.
Alas, no such magic wand exists.
But we do have grammar checker tools, which are the next-best things.
Just remember grammar checkers are designed to make editing easier, not to eliminate the work completely.
Putting the best grammar checker tools to the test
During self-edits on my latest manuscript, I experimented with editing tools, both free and paid, to determine which could be most beneficial to The Write Life’s audience. Besides being an author, I’m an editor, so I also weighed each tool against what I’d look for when editing.
Since editing has a broad definition — basically anything that improves your writing — it’s not surprising that the tools I tried had different functions, from checking grammar and style to eliminating unnecessary words, to identifying areas for improvement.
What you want in a grammar checker or editing tool will influence which one(s) you choose. No one tool can do it all — nor can one of these tools wave away the work and critical thinking necessary for a well-edited blog post, magazine article or book.
A grammar checker doesn’t replace a human editor. Because language rules and elements of a good story can be so flexible, human eyes will always be superior to the rigidity of automatic tools.
Here are 10 of the best grammar checker tools.
What It Does: ProWritingAid is a web editor and plugin that will clean up your writing by detecting grammar and spelling mistakes, plagiarism and contextual errors. It also analyzes your writing and produces reports on writing style, sentence length, grammar, and repeated words and phrases.
Price: There’s a limited free version. If you upgrade to the premium membership, you can edit in Google Docs or Microsoft Word, access a desktop app and Chrome add-ins, and — best of all — lose the word-count cap.
A monthly membership is $20, a year’s membership is $79, or go the whole hog and buy a lifetime membership for $240.
Who It’s For: Anyone, including students, authors, freelancers or ESL writers.
How It Works: Click on “Try the editing tool,” create a free account, then paste in your text.
The Best Part: ProWritingAid has a premium option, but most of the areas you’ll want checked are available for free.
What Would Make It Better: Though ProWritingAid checks grammar, I slipped in a your/you’re mistake without getting flagged. I wasn’t overly fond of the tool’s inability to work offline, but its overall functionality is hard to argue with.
Our Recommendation: Use ProWritingAid in the self-editing stage to guide your edits.
More Details: For an in-depth explainer of ProwritingAid’s free and premium versions, check out our full ProwritingAid review.
What It Does: AutoCrit analyzes your manuscript to identify areas for improvement, including pacing and momentum, dialogue, strong writing, word choice and repetition. Depending on what plan you choose, you can also compare your writing to that of popular authors like Danielle Steel or James Patterson.
Price: Three different plans are available: the “Free Forever” plan, which is free; the “Professional” for $30, or the “Annual Professional” for $297 per year. The latter offers a built-in discount of two months free every year.
Who It’s For: Fiction and non-fiction writers.
How It Works: Paste your text into the online dashboard or upload a document and click on AutoCrit’s tabs to see its analysis. This tool uses data from various genres and more than a million books to provide a word-by-word level analysis of your writing and shows easy ways to improve the readability of your work.
The Best Part: I spent the most time in the “Compare to Fiction” tab, which provides a comprehensive look at common issues. It highlighted my tendency to start sentences with “and” and “but,” and identified my most repeated words. I felt like I learned something about my writing, and that’s something I don’t think I could say about some other tools.
What Would Make It Better: A more accurate definition of passive voice. It highlights any use of the “be” and “had” verbs, neither of which fully capture passive voice (you need a past participle in addition to a “be” verb), and many active voice constructions were falsely labeled as passive.
Our Recommendation: AutoCrit is great to guide your edits in the self-editing stage. It’s best used for developmental edits, rewrites and avoiding common writing no-nos.
More Details: For an in-depth explainer of Autocrit’s Free Forever and paid versions, check out our full Autocrit review.
What It Does: Grammarly is a grammar checker and proofreader.
Price: A limited version is available for free, and Grammarly also offers a number of other free services such as a wordiness checker and tone detection. The full-featured premium service starts at $11.66 per month, and the business plan starts at $12.50 per member per month.
Who It’s For: Anyone, including writers, business people and academics.
How It Works: Copy and paste or upload your text into the online dashboard and let Grammarly work its magic. It flags potential errors, gives suggestions and provides an explanation so you can learn why it suggests the change. There’s also a free Grammarly Add-in available for Microsoft Word and a Grammarly for Chrome extension that’s also compatible with Google Docs.
The Best Part: Grammarly is easy to use and pointed out a vocabulary issue or two that none of the other tools did. It’s superior to Microsoft Word’s grammar checker. Its synonym suggestion feature is pretty nifty, too.
What Would Make It Better: As an editor, I work with many styles of writing, so it’d be helpful if Grammarly provided the option to switch between a few to ensure writers receive fitting suggestions to improve their work. For example, if you don’t use the Oxford comma, the editor will prompt you to do so, which isn’t right for all writing styles.
Our Recommendation: Grammarly is best for the final proofreading stage, or for people who want to learn more about the technical aspects of grammar. If you’re an editor or strong writer, you might find yourself ignoring more flagged items than you fix.
More Details: For an in-depth explainer of Grammarly’s free and premium versions, check out our full Grammarly review.
What It Does: Hemingway Editor is like a spellchecker, but for style. It provides a readability score — the lowest grade level someone would need to understand your text — and analyzes your writing to identify areas for improvement. Because it doesn’t require an internet connection, you can use it anywhere.
Price: Free online, and a one-time payment of $19.99 for the desktop version, which is available for both Mac and PC.
Who It’s For: Anyone
How It Works: Paste your text into the dashboard and scan for highlighted sections of text. The highlighted text is color coded depending on your area of improvement, whether it’s hard-to-read sentences, the presence of adverbs, or passive voice.
The Best Part: In addition to providing examples on how to fix passive voice or complex phrases, Hemingway Editor also identifies how many “-ly” adverbs and passive voice constructions you’ve used and suggests a maximum number based on your word count.
In my prologue, for example, I had one use of passive voice, and Hemingway Editor suggested aiming for six uses or fewer — which I nailed. These recommendations reinforce the idea that not all adverbs or passive voice constructions are bad, and that’s something other tools miss.
What Would Make It Better: Hemingway Editor was the cleanest and easiest to use of the free editing tools, but it’s not a true grammar checker or proofreader. Even though it’s not meant to catch grammar and spelling mistakes, any editing application that catches those mistakes is instantly more attractive.
Our Recommendation: Use Hemingway Editor to increase the readability of your writing and identify problem sentences during the copyediting stage, but supplement your efforts with a grammar and spell checker.
What It Does: WordRake cuts out the unnecessary words or phrases that creep into your writing. It works with Microsoft Word and Outlook, depending on which license you purchase. I tested the Microsoft Word version.
Price: The Microsoft Word version is available for Mac or Windows, and you’ll pay $129 for a year or $259 for three years. The Microsoft Word and Outlook package version is only available for Windows, and it costs $199 for a year or $399 for three.
Who It’s For: Bloggers, authors and editors using Microsoft Word or Outlook.
How It Works: WordRake is an add-in for Microsoft products and requires you to install the program before using it, though it’s as easy as following the instructions. Select the text you want to edit, then use the WordRake add-in. It uses Track Changes to suggest edits, which you can accept or reject.
The Best Part: WordRake is as close as you can get to an automatic editor. It appealed to me more as an editor than a writer, but it’s great at eliminating unnecessary phrases and words that bog down your writing.
What Would Make It Better: I threw a your/you’re mistake in to see if WordRake would catch it. It didn’t, even though Microsoft Word flagged it. If WordRake could catch common writing mistakes like your/you’re or their/they’re/there in addition to unnecessary words, it’d be a hard tool to beat.
Our Recommendation: WordRake is a great tool for the copyediting stage. Verbose writers, authors wanting to cut down on editing costs or editors looking to speed up their editing process will most benefit from WordRake. Watch out if you’re running Word on a slow computer: WordRake could increase your load time.
What It Does: Like Grammarly, After the Deadline is a grammar checker and proofreader.
Price: Free for personal use.
Who It’s For: Anyone.
How It Works: Click “Demonstration,” paste the text you want to check, and click “Check Writing.” After the Deadline underlines any spelling, grammar and style issues and explains its reasoning.
The Best Part: It’s free! You can also use it on your self-hosted WordPress site, as an extension or add-on for Chrome or Firefox, or with OpenOffice.org.
What Would Make It Better: A definition of passive voice that explains how you construct it grammatically. After the Deadline rightly explains what passive voice does, but it seems to focus only on the “be” verb, which occasionally leads to falsely labeling non-passive constructions as passive.
Our Recommendation: You get what you pay for with After the Deadline. Use it for a final proofread, but exercise good judgment and don’t make every change it suggests — it’s not as sophisticated as the other five editing tools mentioned.
What It Does: This AI-powered writing assistant and grammar and spelling checker works to improve your style and speed, plus boost your creativity. It also scans full, complex sentences and suggests context-based corrections.
Price: Ginger offers a free (but very limited) plan, so you’ll find it to be more effective through its premium offerings: $13.99 per month, $89.88 per year or $167.76 for two years. Heads up: It’s currently running a 30% off promo for all plans, so these prices may increase at any time.
Who It’s For: Anyone.
How It Works: Whether you choose to download Ginger to your Chrome browser, as a desktop app or otherwise, all you have to do to get started is follow the setup instructions to install it. As an add-on or app, Ginger will highlight spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, and it’ll even help you rephrase sentences by giving you tons of alternative options.
The Best Part: One word: cross-compatibility. Writers can download Ginger as a desktop app for Mac or Windows or directly into Google Chrome or Safari, and it works seamlessly with programs like Outlook, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint — you can even download it as a keyboard or app for Android phones and an app for Apple phones.
What Would Make It Better: Most grammar checkers offer a plagiarism detector, but Ginger doesn’t. Even if it only added it to premium plans, this would be a helpful feature to include.
Our Recommendation: Download Ginger If you have a good grasp of grammar and punctuation, and you need a grammar editor to back up your knowledge.
What It Does: Scribens is a free grammar checker that corrects more than 250 types of grammar, spelling and stylistic mistakes including nouns, verbs, prepositions, pronouns, homonyms, typography and punctuation.
Price: Free for everyone.
Who It’s For: Anyone, including writers, editors and authors of any genre, business people and academics.
How It Works: Choose which extension(s) where you want to install Scribner, then download it and begin writing. To test it first, click ‘Grammar Check,’ then paste your text or import a file into the editor. Through color-coded suggestions, it’ll check your style, vocabulary, grammar and spelling, it detects patterns in your writing, and it grades readability.
The Best Part: You can download the Scribens extension in just about any place you’d need to write — i.e., social networks, websites with text zones (WordPress or forums), email platforms and more. Writers will be sure to enjoy this flexibility and the assurance that they can edit their writing right from any website or application.
What Would Make It Better: For a free grammar checker, Scribner offers more than the average free tool, but it’s not as intuitive as others on this list. I tested a simple their/they’re mistake and it didn’t flag it. It’s helpful that it notes bigger grammar errors like compound predicates, but as a grammar corrector, it should also be able to avoid smaller ones from slipping through the cracks.
Our Recommendation: Use Scribner in the final stages of your copyediting. With minor issues out of the way, you can focus on addressing readability, syntax errors and stylistic elements with Scriber’s deeper analysis of your work.
What It Does: WhiteSmoke is a grammar checker and proofreading software that corrects spelling, word choice, grammar, punctuation and style mistakes. It also offers a translator and dictionary that supports more than 50 languages.
Price: WhiteSmoke offers three yearly plans that include a web plan for $59.95, which is compatible with all browsers. Its premium option is $79.95 while business is $137.95, and they both fully integrate with Windows or Mac.
Who It’s For: Students, professional writers and bloggers, business executives and employees and English learners.
How It Works: After you register, choose a package and install this grammar checker, WhiteSmoke’s all-in-one English tool will provide grammar, spelling, punctuation and style checks when you click on highlighted text from any application or browser.
The Best Part: If you’re unsure about grammar rules during your writing process, check out WhiteSmoke’s handy video tutorials that focus on common writing problems and how to avoid them. Plus, if you need a template, it has more than 100 document and letter templates you can access.
What Would Make It Better: Unfortunately, this grammar editor isn’t the most intuitive tool on this list, plus it has a limit of 10,000 characters at a time, where each letter, punctuation mark and space counts. (For reference, you can check 150,000 words on Grammarly!) If you write long-form pieces, this may not be the best tool to use to check your work.
Our Recommendation: WhiteSmoke offers many innovative features, but it shouldn’t be your main squeeze. Although it uses Natural Language Processing technology to enhance your writing, WhiteSmoke openly warns it won’t catch every grammar mistake, so supplement this checker with another one.
What It Does: A multilingual grammar, style and spell-checking software, LanguageTool is an Open Source application that checks your spelling, grammar, tone and writing style and instantly generates context-aware suggestions for more than 30 languages.
Price: Besides the free plan that allows basic grammar checks of up to 10,000 words, LanguageTool also offers monthly, quarterly, yearly or biennial plans for individual users. You can expect to pay $19 per month, $39 for three months, $59 per year or $99 every two years.
Who It’s For: Anyone, including students, authors, freelancers, ESL writers and business people.
How It Works: Try the grammar checker on the website’s homepage or download it as a Google Docs add-on or a Microsoft Word add-in. Write or paste your text into the editor, and it’ll underline your errors in red, yellow or blue to indicate whether you need to correct your spelling, grammar or style.
The Best Part: Similar to Hemingway Editor, you can take advantage of the web-based platform of this grammar corrector without the need to install anything. And because it’s multilingual, it offers a premium feature that detects gender while proofreading, which is super helpful when you’re unsure of how another language structures gender in writing.
What Would Make It Better: While they offer fun features like detection of incorrect numbers and of incorrect names and titles in emails, LanguageTool’s premium plans limit you to 60,000 characters per text field. It’s an improvement from the 10,000-character limit in its free plan but still a pain point for long works.
Our Recommendation: LanguageTool grammar checker is a worthy writing assistant to consider if you write in or for other languages regularly, especially for its value.
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This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.