My grammar and spelling are reasonably good, but I have a major weakness — I’m overly confident in believing that what comes flying out of my fingers actually matches what’s in my head.
Part of the issue might be that I type around 80 words per minute, and sometimes my head and my fingers get out of sync. Another big weakness? I’m lazy about proofreading, and I tend to read what I expect rather than what’s actually on the screen.
Combine the overconfidence and the laziness and it made for a lot of mistakes slipping into my writing. All the while I was blissfully oblivious.
It was while doing some beta reading for another author that I started looking around for grammar checking tools, and I came across Grammarly. I suggested it to this other author, but it took a little longer before I decided that I might as well try it out myself.
It’s now been a couple months that I’ve been using Grammarly. It does a big red underline under mistakes, and it’s been quite humbling to see just how much of a mess I was making. I’ve discovered that I often pause to think mid-sentence, and when my brain gets going again I’ll retype the last word or two before I left off. This isn’t just isn’t just an occasional thing; it’s something something I do quite regularly. Who knew?
However, we don’t always get along. One major area of disagreement is comma use. I love me a good comma. I think they’re a fabulous way to tell a reader to take a brief pause, even if the comma isn’t grammatically necessary. Grammarly doesn’t agree. I say bite me.
At least it doesn’t take issue with my Oxford commas; that would be a deal-breaker in our relationship.
Sometimes Grammarly wants to add prepositions where they don’t belong. I can even be kind of amusing, such as “when I got out [of] my camera”. Can it tell me how to put myself back into my camera? Because that sounds kind of cozy.
Grammarly also likes to throw hyphens in, even when they don’t belong.
Instead of spending time fighting something, I should be time-fighting, which sounds a bit futile if you ask me.
Kung fu fighting, on the other hand, requires no hyphen.
In relatively wordy sentences sometimes Grammarly has issues with subject-verb agreement. In my head I’m not overly wordy, although the search engine optimization plugin I use on my blog would call serious BS on that.
Since I’m wordy anyway, I’ll take a quick detour to rant about Yoast, my SEO plugin. It rates the readability of each of my blog posts, and normally I get a red unhappy face. Why does it hate me so? Well, it’s mostly because my sentences are too long and I use too much passive voice. The passive voice critique I remember getting in grad school. I like passive voice, even though Grammarly wants me to write it as “the passive voice”. It’s snuggly and comfortable. There’s nothing that will stop me from using passive voice (see what I did there?).
Yoast’s writing advice I ignore altogether, but despite our differences, I’ve decided Grammarly is a significant other that’s worth keeping around. Just don’t f*** with my commas.