Is Grammarly Helpful to the Average Student?

Photo Source: Alyssa Powell, Business Insider

Photo Source: Alyssa Powell, Business Insider

Chloe Hurd, Writer

Grammarly- should it be considered friend or foe? With emerging technologies, digital writing assistants like Grammarly, are on the rise. But how does this affect students’ writing skills, and is it fair? 

Grammarly is an app that automatically detects possible grammar and style errors in documents. Grammarly’s algorithms flag possible topics in writings and propose context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, wordiness, style, and punctuation. It is accessible via the browser Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. The premium service is available for a payment of $144 a year on the student plan. 

Overall, I discovered that Grammarly was one of those more extensive spelling/grammar checkers in this industry. The free edition has basic grammar fixes, though the premium editor has merit if you find yourself having a need for Grammarly’s paid features. The cost can be steep and possibly ineffective considering that it might hurt students’ lit skills. While Grammarly is no substitute for constantly reviewing works, it offers a useful second look at authors’ writings.


Students’ POV

I turned to students for their views on the subject, and to my surprise, there is not a resounding yes to Grammarly. Take Emily Gleason. When asked about the help Grammarly can provide to students, she says, “You shouldn’t need a computer to do all of your work for you. Writing structure is important, and if you’re relying on software for [essays], you’re not learning” 

Another student, Jack Fahey shares a similar sentiment that resonates with me, “I think that students can tend to brush over errors by letting Grammarly correct them. It is easier to just click on a phrase with a red line under it than to sit through a lesson on semicolons. But then the student never really understands how they work, they just make sure all of the errors detected are fixed for them.”

Nonetheless, students also believe Grammarly is helpful. Just ask Lauren R, who states that Grammarly can and will continue to help her. “I have used Grammarly on everything since 7th grade. I had terrible grammar and punctuation before, and my writing voice was weak. But Grammarly helped my essays and fiction writing flourish and I have learned much more through its tips.”

An anonymous student also says; “Students have a lot of things to think about when doing something like writing an essay. Grammarly can help students to not have to think about so much at once. It may also make them feel more confident in themselves if they doubt their abilities.” Despite the polarization of opinions, more than half of the students interviewed use Grammarly’s free resources, with a scattered few paying for the extended plan.


Teachers’ POV

While it was agreed amongst teachers and students that Grammarly should not be considered cheating, it is still a tool. Its usage by students depends on the person. I interviewed some teachers in the English Department about their views on if students should or shouldn’t be utilizing this service. When asking for Ms. Ducolon’s opinion on her students’ use of Grammarly she says, “Students often come to me complaining about a grade on their essay saying they used Grammarly, it’s not a fix-all, you need to look over the words.” And when asked about the effect it has on students she states, “I think you become a much better writer if you pay attention to editing, it’s good to understand how sentences work and good writing skills–I do think that editing tools are useful, I don’t necessarily like Grammarly at all, but there are some editing tools that are good.—-Writing is an art, we want to find our voices and how to write well.” 

Like Ms. Ducolon, Mr. Ruland agrees that Grammarly absolutely stunts certain students’ ability to edit their work and when asked about it overall he states, “[Grammerly] is a tool to help people write more effectively if people utilize it that way. If used as a shortcut [students] are harming themselves.”


Conclusion + SAS Writing Assistant 

As proposed by Ms. Ducolon, there’s another way for students to better their skills while still getting insight on essays. SAS writing assistant gives a critique on common grammar misuse, showing where the mistakes are located.  And best of all, not giving the exact answer makes students think about their writing. Even better, it’s a simple add-on and entirely free to use. Ms. Ducolon says; “It’s the best free option I’ve seen out there” Available on Add ons click on this link to preview the site.

The process of correcting and adjusting grammar can be difficult. Call me old-fashioned but I think the author should mostly be able to change their grammar mistakes in their words before they consult Grammarly for help. I don’t think that Grammarly is a perfect way to correct and while it does catch grammar misuse, the system is often not perfect. It just leaves room for more error for a student who doesn’t look over their work. While a useful system, Grammarly shouldn’t be utterly relied on by authors and students alike.