While I was writing an e-mail yesterday, I was struck by how far automated proofreaders have come. When I typed the proper noun “Obi Wan Kenobi,” which is a character from the Star Wars movie saga, the spell checker recognized it—that is, the spell checker on Microsoft’s Outlook did not underline the name in red or suggest alternative spellings. (Never mind why I typed “Obi Wan Kenobi” in an e-mail anyway.)
We’ve come a long way, baby. It wasn’t so long ago that every spell checker in the world suggested “sewage” each time I typed my alma mater, “Sewanee.”
But it’s not only spell checkers that have taken the next step. With sites such as www.Grammarly.com, everything from spelling to grammar to the originality of your prose can be checked by an automated proofreader, guaranteeing “error-free writing on demand.”
According to their website:
Grammarly provides another set of eyes to help perfect your writing. Grammarly’s patent-pending grammar checking technology reviews and improves your text, correcting grammar, spelling, word choice and style mistakes with unmatched accuracy. Give Grammarly 60 seconds and see what pesky grammar errors you missed in your text!
Grammarly claims to “find errors that Microsoft Word can’t,” such as contextual spellings, quantifiers, and modifiers. Proofreading results are instantaneous, and include checking for “Context Optimized Synonyms,” spelling, over 250 points of grammar, and reviewing text for plagiarism and originality.
Their website allows visitors to check a snippet of text for free, as well as sign up for a FREE seven-day trial. So I cut and pasted the first three paragraphs of this blog post into their text box, to see how Grammarly would rate my writing.
I scored high marks for originality, but was dinged on spelling, grammar, punctuation, and “style and word choice.” In fact, the first three paragraphs were rated a mere 43 out of 100 possible points—which left me with a designation of “weak, needs revision.”
But don’t we all?