If you are a professional writer, grammar and spelling mistakes can be the death of your career and your reputation. Most agree that editing your own work is one of the most difficult tasks any writer faces, but not everyone has the convenience of having an in-house editor or the time to send the work to a proofreader. Fortunately, artificial intelligence has a solution with automatic grammar and spell checkers that can give you a boost and help you polish your work. This review will compare ProWritingAid vs Grammarly vs. Ginger to see how they stack up.
Why you need a writing assistant
We have all had it happen. You spend time writing the perfect article or blog, and you know that you have been over it with a fine-tooth comb. Much to your horror, you see that grammar or spelling mistake the second after you hit the publish button. The first question that goes through your mind is how you could have missed the mistake when you went over it so many times. The answer lies in how our brain works, and it is a challenge that everyone faces, even the most seasoned editors.
The problem is that our brains are very good at making inferences from incomplete information. You are not being careless or lazy. Conveying meaning through writing is a high-level task, our brain will generalize simple tasks like putting letters together into words so that it can focus on the higher-level message of the piece.
As we write, our mind makes an exact copy of every word on the page and where it is placed. When we read it back we know exactly what we wanted to say in our message and where we expect the words and letters to be. Our brain reads what it expects to see, not what is actually there. Language is a complex task that humans have mastered to a level that no other creature on the planet has been able to do, and this ability is a result of both biology and how we acquire the ability to learn language and read at an early age.
When we are taught to read, we are taught to read using sight words. We are taught to read words as a whole, not letter-by-letter. The ability to extrapolate this knowledge to read unfamiliar and longer words does not occur until later. Our very first encounter with reading is through learning to recognize whole words, such as Jane, the, dog, and cat.
Some educational systems are straying away from this approach, but for most of us, this is how we learned. To understand a piece of text, only the first and last letters need to be in the right place, and the letter order inside of the word does not matter. That is why you can read this sentence, “Your barin c_n raed tehse wrods prefectly fine, and it c4n 3v3n r34d 7h15.” This is called typoglycemia, and it is your brain’s own version of predictive text.
Building maps and generalizing text is the job of higher-level brain functions. Your brain automatically substitutes what it thinks should be there instead of what is actually there, rejecting visual input that does not match the ideal. The problem is that your brain knows what it wanted to say, but your readers do not, which is why the first thing your readers will notice is that typo that you missed. This is sort of like driving to a familiar place, like work, on autopilot. Have you ever arrived at work and do not remember driving there, or maybe you have made the coffee in the morning and forgot to turn on the power switch?
This is your brain generalizing simple tasks and building maps that run on autopilot. This is the same thing that it does when you read your own writing. To solve the problem of your brain generalizing and forgetting to turn on the coffee, you can now purchase a coffee pot that takes over this simple, lower-level brain task for you. Fortunately, for us, there is also now artificial intelligence that can help us catch those typos and grammar errors that our brain misses, too. Now, we are going to explore the top three grammar and spelling checkers to help you polish and perfect your masterpieces.
ProWritingAid vs Grammarly
ProWritingAid and Grammarly are two of the top grammar and spell checkers used by pros. When you compare ProWritingAid vs Grammarly, each of them has strengths and weaknesses. Both of them have a free version and a paid version. ProWritingAid is around $4.99 per month and Grammarly paid is around $11.66 per month, but which one is better?
When it comes to the proofreading database, ProWritingAid has a database somewhere in the millions, but they do not provide their exact number. Grammarly has a database of 16 billion words, making it much more powerful when it comes to catching errors. Also, Grammarly has a system where the software learns from user input, which means that the database is always growing.
When using Grammarly, I have been surprised to find the trade names and industry-specific words that it caught. When I ran the same text through ProWritingAid, it did not catch as many of these words and phrases. In terms of its vocabulary database, Grammarly is the winner in this category. When it comes to common words and phrases, both of them do an equally good job of catching mistakes.
If you choose the ProWritingAid free plan, you are more restricted than by the Grammarly free plan. ProWriterAid restricts you to 19 free reports and 500 words at a time. Also, you can only use ProWriterAid online. Grammarly allows you to use the free version offline, and you are not restricted to the size or number of texts that are allowed with the free version. They actually do have an upper limit, but it is so high that most would never hit it.
Both ProWritingAid and Grammarly work with Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Both of them work with OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. If you have a Mac, you need to be aware that Grammarly does not work with it. If you enjoy using Scrivener, ProWritingAid integrates with it, but Grammarly does not.
Another point to consider is that even with Grammarly Premium, you are restricted to 150,000 words per month, but that is a pretty high target to hit, even for businesses. ProWritingAid does not have a top limit on the number of words or checks for its premium users, but it significantly limits its users on its free version. When comparing paid versions, ProWritingAid edges out Grammarly for value and price.
Some things about Grammarly
The bottom line for professional writers is whether the software performs as expected in catching mistakes. You want something that will catch as many mistakes as possible. In a comparative test, Grammarly is about 86% accurate, and it includes a plagiarism checker that ProWritingAid does not.
Grammarly has a clean interface that categorizes the mistakes so that you can click on the category to make corrections. ProWritingAid’s interface is a little more complicated to use. It also takes longer to make corrections on ProWritingAid, and the software tends to lag.
One thing to consider in your decision is that Grammarly’s free version is not fully functional. You have to pay to get advanced checking such as word variety, a tone detector, style suggestions, and weak adjective detection. With ProWritingAid, the free and paid versions include the same checks.
Ginger Writing Assistant
Ginger is a popular choice for those that want free software. When comparing Grammarly vs Ginger, Ginger assistant only does a fraction of what Grammarly does. It is good for doing a preliminary check, but it only checks for punctuation, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, writing style, and it will catch some awkward wording. It does have some unique features such as a sentence rephraser, the ability to access dictionary definitions, and it can translate your text into 50 different languages.
You will notice that the Ginger interface is plain, and when do you use it in a browser, it is a very tiny box in the top right-hand corner of the page. This makes it a little bit hard to read and make corrections. You have to write in the little box, make corrections, and then copy and paste the text where you want it. This is a complicated way to do a simple task.
Ginger also has a few glitches. For instance, if you copy text into the Ginger editor and click outside of the box on another part of the webpage, sometimes the grammar checker page goes blank. Unfortunately, the text does not come back when you refresh the page.
Ginger does have a few nice features that Grammarly and ProWritingAid do not, but when it comes to the robustness of the grammar checker and spell checker, Ginger has a little catching up to do. When typing a sentence with the punctuation left off the end of the sentence, Ginger did not even catch it, but Grammarly and ProWriterAid caught the mistake perfectly. Also, when Ginger makes rephrasing suggestions if you are working in the browser, it cuts off the end of the sentence suggestions and does not allow you to resize the window to see them.
Ginger is free software, but it has add-ons that you can purchase to make it more robust. Unfortunately, when it comes to accuracy and polishing your writing, Ginger simply did not do the job and missed a lot of mistakes that Grammarly and ProWritingAid caught. The bottom line is that you get what you pay for with Ginger. Its interface is clunky and difficult to use, and in my opinion, Grammarly and ProWritingAid are the best options for professional writers.
Things grammar checkers will not catch
Even grammar checkers are not perfect, and there are some types of mistakes that they will not catch. For instance, they might put in the wrong version of two, to, or too. They sometimes miss words with reversed letters like form and from or sing and sign. I’ve even had Grammarly tell me to change you to your when it was inappropriate to do so. All of these checkers have been known to confuse homophones like threw and through, passed and past, and by or buy.
The bottom line is that AI is not perfect, and you cannot rely on it 100%, which means that you still need to know your grammar rules to decide whether to accept the suggested changes or not.
Pro editing tips
Grammar checkers can go a long way in helping you see those mistakes that your brain skips over. They are excellent for catching when you type one of the most common mistakes, “teh” instead of “the”, but they are not perfect, and you still need to edit your work by hand in addition to using AI. Here are a few suggestions for tricking your brain into catching its own mistakes.
If you want to catch more of your own mistakes, it is important to make the text as visually unfamiliar as possible. You need to trick your brain into thinking that it is seeing the text for the first time. One way to do this is to change the font, paper size, margins, or color of your text before reading it. Your brain will also interpret the text differently if you print it out or look at it on a different size screen. Other tricks that editors use is to read the text out loud, read it backward, and read it sentence by sentence.
Another hint is to try to draft the night before and edit in the morning after a good night’s sleep when you are fresh. In some cases, I even change the font and color again and do it one more time. After this, I run it through Grammarly to catch anything I may have missed. Even using these multiple steps to editing, sometimes the occasional switched letter still gets through.
When you compare ProWritingAid vs. Grammarly vs. Ginger, each of them has different features that give them an advantage in certain areas. If you are a professional writer, the most important factor is accuracy. In a side-by-side comparison, Grammarly produces fewer errors and gives you fewer incorrect suggestions than ProWritingAid and Ginger.
The ProWritingAid tool tends to catch things like sentence fragments that Grammarly tends to miss. Our favorite for accuracy is Grammarly, but I suggest that you try them out for yourself and decide which one suits your writing style and needs better. Grammar checkers are like having an editor and an extra set of eyes on the page.
A grammar checker is an investment that every professional writer should make. When everything is said and done, I believe that Grammarly is the clear winner, especially when it comes to accuracy and the ability to correct mistakes. No AI-driven grammar and spelling checker is 100% accurate, but it is an excellent tool to include as a step in your editing process. Even though Grammarly is the more expensive option, in my opinion, it is the best choice.