Grammarly or ProWritingAid? Both are among the leading tools in the proofreading space. Both are usable and can improve writing, but real-world use reveals they each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
In a nutshell, Grammarly gives faster results, is easier to use, has a more satisfying UI, and generally improves your writing at a sentence or paragraph level. A neat feature of Grammarly is its customized analysis depending on how formal you want the writing to be, overall tone, knowledge of the audience, domain of writing etc.
On the other hand, ProWritingAid has powerful features that improve your writing style in general, such as spotting overused words and sticky writing. In addition, the tool comes with numerous reports that scores your writing for things such as: sentence length & variety, passive voice, bad adverbs etc.
First, a comparison table for Grammarly Free vs ProWritingAid Free.
Note: This comparison used a dummy text to test both tools. The bolded words are the results each tool had when correcting the dummy text.
|Grammarly Free||ProWritingAid Free|
|Only grammar and spelling corrections||Full writing features unlocked in Free version|
|No word limit||Corrects only 500 words at a time|
|Better at detecting & fixing errors (10 errors detected, all 10 fixes correct)||Poor error detecting & corrections (7 errors detected, 5 correct fixes, 2 wrong)|
|Click-to-implement fixes for simple grammar and spelling errors||Click-to-implement fixes for simple grammar and spelling errors|
|Explanations written in clear, simple language for ordinary people||Some explanations clear and simple, others written as if for professional Linguistic graduates (no joke or exaggeration; see screenshots below)|
|Available as Desktop app, integrations for major browsers, mobile apps||Only available on ProWritingAid.com, major browser integrations with limited features|
|No synonym suggestions||4 different reports for identifying synonyms (proposed many synonyms for 50+ words out of 200)|
|Very limited clarity suggestions (just 1 in dummy text)||Several reports that analyze: sentence structure, transitions, word stickiness, length, ease of reading. (many sentences detected in dummy text)|
|Writing suggestions based on audience knowledge level, formality, desired tone and intent of the text||Various reports for cliché detection, punctuation consistency, homonym detection, alliteration and more|
|Simple scoring system based on word and phrase length, unique and common words||Complex scoring system, based on tens of reports on grammar, sentence structure, etc.|
And now to compare the paid versions:
|Grammarly Premium||ProWritingAid Premium|
|$29 per month / $139.95 upfront per year ($11.66 monthly)||$20 per month / $79 per year ($7 per month) / $399 lifetime|
|Unlocks sentence clarity, synonym suggestions and more writing tone suggestions||Removes 500 word limit|
|Unlocks full features for integrations as well||Unlocks full features for browser integrations, let’s you use Desktop app, MS Office, Scrivener & Google Doc integration|
|Excellent unclear sentence rephrasing feature, with click-to-implement (4 unclear sentences detected, 3 correct fixes, 1 incomplete)||Reports can detect unclear sentences, but they don’t propose click-to-implement solutions. You have to manually rewrite.|
|Decent synonym proposal feature (proposed a few synonyms for just 4 words out of 200)||Excellent synonym suggestions (proposed many synonyms for 50+ words out of 200)|
|Unlimited plagiarism detector||50 plagiarism checks per year|
Feature tables are great, but more importantly is how these two tools perform in real life – meaning actual text correction.
As mentioned previously, this comparison uses a dummy text to measure the performance of each tool.
The dummy text was written by a non-native English speaker, has 200 words, numerous spelling and grammar errors and quite a few unclear sentences. Perfect for proofreading.
Green – Words added by the tools.
Strikethrough – Words eliminated by the tools.
Unedited Dummy Text:
As per the recent marketing research that surveyed 162 marketing officials in U.S almost 64% people confirmed that you need a serious marketing strategy to follow the true progress of your business.
Everyone from marketers and executives understands the benefits of an action based market strategy. But, it’s still a daunting task and there are many hurdles that need to overcome to create a fool proof strategy. The issues like disconnected systems, incongruous accountabilities, and data stemming can prevent you from connecting to the right customer base. Especially when you don’t know how to measure your business’s market standing.
That’s when data driven strategy plays its role. The idea of data driven marketing is to collect the customer based data and then use it to guide the marketing efforts in an effective direction. Though the idea sounds simple, the practice is not as effortless.
The amount of data generated by the thorough research is overwhelming. But for a long terms success of your business, data driven marketing strategy is the best way to create content for your consumers. The big question is why do you need data driven strategy to operate and measure your business? Why’s it important.
Text obtained with Grammarly Premium, in 60 seconds of editing, using only click-to-implement fixes
As per the recent marketing research that surveyed 162 marketing officials in the U.S, almost 64% of people confirmed that you need a serious marketing strategy to follow
the true progress ofyour business‘s real progress.
Everyone from marketers and executives understands the benefits of an
action basedaction-based market strategy. But,It’s still a daunting task, and there aremany hurdles thatneed to be overcome to create a foolproof strategyplan. The issues like disconnected systems, incongruous accountabilities, and data stemming can prevent you from connecting to the right customer base, . Especiallyespecially when you don’t know how to measure your business’s market standing.
That’s when data-driven strategy plays its role.
The idea of data drivenData-driven marketing isaims to collect the customer-basedcustomer-based data and then use it to guide the marketing efforts in an effective direction. Though the ideaconcept sounds simple, the practice is not as effortless.
The amount of data generated by the thorough research is overwhelming.
But for aFor your business’s long-term ssuccess of your business, a data drivendata-driven marketing strategy is the best way to create content for your consumers. The big question is, why do you need a data drivendata-driven approach to operate and measure your business? Why’s it important.
The results are not bad, considering it took less than 60 seconds to implement all the changes. The text still needs more chiseling, but it’s fair to say Grammarly alone cut out ~2-3 minutes of editing work.
Once you move past the 2000 word range, Grammarly’s time savings add up and can improve your output and productivity as a writer.
Text obtained with ProWritingAid, in around 8 minutes of editing (click-to-implement + manual editing)
As per theRecent marketing research that surveyed 162 marketing officialsleaders in U.S almost 64% people confirmed thatyou need a serious marketing strategy to follow the true progress of your business.
Marketers and executives
understandsunderstand the benefits of an action based market strategy. But ,it’s a daunting task, and there aremany hurdles need to overcome to createset up a fool proofreliable strategy. The issues like disconnected systems, incongruous accountabilities, and data stemming can preventhinder you from connecting to the right customer base. Especially when you don’t know how to measure your business’s market standing.
That’s when data driven strategy plays its
rolepart. The ideaaim of data driven marketing is to collect the customer based data and thus use it to guide the marketing efforts in an effective directionefficiently. The idea sounds simple,straightforward; the practice is not as effortless.
amountvolume of data generated by the thorough researchdetailed analysis is overwhelming. But for a long terms success of your business, data driven marketing strategy is the best way to create content for your consumers. The bigmain question is why do you need data driven strategyapproach to operate and measure your business? Why’s it necessary .?
The final result is acceptable (though not finished), but required much more involvement from a human editor than with Grammarly.
8 minutes for a 200 word text may seem like a lot of time, but here’s how it was spent:
- Use the grammar and style check to fix a few issues.
- Manually comb the text using synonym tools, hover over a word, wait for a synonym drop-down to activate, read the options, pick a word from a list or leave as it is. Rinse & repeat multiple times,
- Use the Structure report to clarify some phrases and make them easier to read. This required manual editing.
- With the Sticky report, manually clean up 2 excess phrases.
Overall, ProWritingAid worked. It’s hard to say how much time it saved, but it did provide some structure and guiding ideas for editing.
With the feature and results comparison out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the actual workflow of each tool, and have a more in-depth analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
Grammarly’s roots go back to Ukraine more than 20 years ago. Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn were two students at the International Christian University when the Internet first started to catch root and spread like wildfire.
The two saw how everybody was downloading essays from the Internet but didn’t verify how trustworthy or well written they were. As a response, they created MyDropbox, a tool specialized in uncovering plagiarism.
The two co-founders eventually sold the MyDropbox, moved to North America, and went on to found Grammarly. Within a few years, the service reached 7 million users and counting and has become a standard in the proofreading industry.
Grammarly Free & Paid comparison
Grammarly Free version’s greatest advantage is the unlimited word count for spelling and grammar corrections. If you want, you can proofread an entire novel in Grammarly Free without spending a dime.
|Grammarly Free||Grammarly Premium|
|No word limit for spelling, grammar & punctuation proofreading||No word limit for spelling, grammar & punctuation proofreading|
|Explanations for every error||Explanations for every error|
|X||Spelling and punctuation consistency|
|Adjust writing feedback based on intended audience, formality level, writing intent and tone||All in free + domain (business, academic, general, email, casual, creative)|
|Limited Unclear Sentences suggestions with minor rephrasing||Powerful Unclear Sentence detector, with correct suggestions & click-to-implement feature|
Grammarly Premium is significantly more expensive than ProWritingAid at every tier, but it does have steep discounts if you choose quarterly or premium plans.
|$29.95||$59.95 ($19.98 per month)||$139.95 ($11.66 per month)|
The monthly and quarterly plans are quite expensive (more than a Netflix subscription), and the annual subscription asks for a hefty sum up front.
Considering this, is Grammarly Premium worth it?
First, a look at Grammarly Free’s results when correcting our dummy text.
Here are the errors Grammarly pointed out in the dummy text:
Grammarly found a total of 10 suggestions in the dummy text, 9 for spelling, and 1 for clarity. One thing to note is how aggressive Grammarly is when pointing out missing hyphens.
Clicking on each highlighted spelling mistake will expand its suggestion tab on the right. This tab includes Grammarly’s proposed fix and also an explanation for why a mistake is, well, a mistake (click “Learn more” to expand).
Overall, Grammarly Free caught most of the glaring grammar errors:
- First sentence: Missing “the” in “officials [the] in U.S” plus a missing “of” in between “64% [of] people”.
- Many missing hyphens spread throughout the text (“action based”, “data driven”).
- Various missing commas.
- A wrong article in the final paragraph, “But for [a] long terms success”, where “the” should replace “a”.
Grammarly then provided the correct solutions to all of the grammar errors it found, so a good win for it.
That being said, Grammarly did miss a couple of errors:
- An unnecessary “the” in “The issues like disconnected systems”.
- In the very last sentence, “Why’s it important.”, Grammarly didn’t replace the “.” with a “?”.
Besides grammar errors, Grammarly gave 1 good clarity suggestion that shortened a phrase by a few words.
It wasn’t a perfect suggestion, since the phrase needed a “be” after “overcome” to have correct grammar, but it still managed to make the sentence clearer and more fluid.
The final thing to note is the scoring system Grammarly gave to this text.
Clicking on any one of the scoring fields will open up the respective suggestions. Unfortunately, the Engagement and Clarity fields are locked behind Grammarly Premium, so you can’t implement them.
Overall, Grammarly Free’s suggestions helped make the text easier to read but said nothing of the convoluted sentence structure and word choice.
The only way to improve sentence clarity is with Grammarly Premium, so let’s see how that one holds up.
Grammarly flagged the first phrase as being a “Sentence fragment.” This “Sentence fragment” error type doesn’t provide a click-to-implement solution, but it does say you should rewrite it.
Apparently, this phrase was simply too gibberish even for Grammarly to make sense of it on its own. It did however, provide solutions to other complicated, unclear sentences.
Sentence rephrasing for clarity
Grammarly Premium proposed to rephrase this sentence:
But, it’s still a daunting task and there are many hurdles that need to overcome to create a fool proof strategy.
A simple and clean edit made this phrase grammatically correct and easy to read.
A more impressive feat was with the following phrase:
The idea of data driven marketing is to collect the customer based data and then use it to guide the marketing efforts in an effective direction.
For a beta feature, the rephrasing was spot on. The perfect edit would have deleted “the” just before “customer-based”, but it’s a minor complaint. With a single click, Grammarly Premium transformed the phrase from sloppy to readable.
That being said, this feature is not perfect. There were a few other poorly worded sentences Grammarly did not come up with solutions to rephrase, such as:
Though the idea sounds simple, the practice is not as effortless.
Could be rephrased to: “Though the idea sounds simple, in practice it’s not so effortless.”
The amount of data generated by the thorough research is overwhelming.
Could be rephrased to: “Thorough research generates an overwhelming amount of data.”
Rephrasing can occasionally be inconsistent
The rephrasing feature works well most of the times, but sometimes it corrects a mistake in two different ways, even if you do the same exact same steps.
The best example is this phrase:
Around 50% of the time, if you correct the “a long”, then “terms” and then “data-driven”, Grammarly will highlight the entire phrase and propose a click-to-implement rewrite:
The other 50% of the time, Grammarly will just leave the phrase as it is, without proposing a rewrite.
This only happened with this particular phrase. With the other unclear sentences, Grammarly provided the same fix 100% of the time.
Most likely it’s because the rephrasing feature is still in Beta (so not quite done yet). It’s still a good feature, but this occasional inconsistency is something to be aware of.
Engagement suggestions and synonyms
Grammarly proposes synonyms only in its Premium version, and labels them under “Engagement” category. Overall, their suggested synonyms are quite accurate, without overwhelming you with too many choices.
Unfortunately, this feature is a bit lazy since it proposed synonyms for just 4 words in the entire text. Given how repetitive the dummy text is, the feature should have flagged at least 10 or more words.
Here’s what synonyms it proposed for the 2 bolded words:
But, it’s still a daunting task and there are many hurdles that need to overcome to create a fool proof strategy.
Though the idea sounds simple, the practice is not as effortless.
Delivery and tone
Grammarly Premium provides options to adjust the overall feel of a text depending on the intended audience, formality level, domain, and tone.
These aren’t just empty features either; they do change the feedback Grammarly gives for a particular text.
For the settings in the screenshot above, Grammarly required no further changes to our dummy text.
However, here’s what happens with the following Delivery settings:
- Audience: Expert
- Formality: Formal
- Domain: Academic
- Tone: Neutral
- Intent: Inform
This time, Grammarly flags a whole bunch of issues:
Most of them are related to the informal use of “you” and urges to rewrite the sentence without it. It doesn’t always offer click-to-implement fixes however, so you might have to do manual rewrites.
Other observations are to cut down on contractions, such as replacing “it’s” with “it is” and swap a couple of words with more appropriate ones.
Grammarly browser extensions and document integrations
Grammarly Free comes with integrations for just about any device writing software you can think of:
- The in-browser app on Grammarly.com
- A Windows based desktop app.
- Firefox, Edge and Safari Browser extensions.
- Chrome browser integration (also works for Google Docs)
- Apps for iOS and Android devices.
- Microsoft Office integration.
Grammarly Free integration offers only grammar checking, error fixing and basic clarity correction feature.
Another limitation of Grammarly Free integrations is the Delivery and Tone features are even more limited than on the in-browser app on Grammarly.com.
On the in-browser app, you can choose different configurations, after which Grammarly will give you advice based on those.
Grammarly integrations will only detect how your text sounds. It won’t give you advice of any kind.
Overall, Grammarly Free and Premium are pleasing to use and detect most errors in a text. It’s satisfying to click a button and see an awkward phrase turn into a readable one. It just works.
It doesn’t give you as much insight and control over your writing style as ProWritingAid does, but you do get much quicker results without being overwhelmed by excess information.
If you’re looking for a writing tool that’s efficient at catching small errors and provides quick and actionable feedback, Grammarly is the tool for you.
If you’re an editor more than a writer and need to deal with large amounts of text, then Grammarly Premium will be worth the money. It will fix most of the “easy” errors in a text, and allow you to concentrate on the important aspects such as overall voice tone, writing elegance, explanation quality and so on.
By contrast to Grammarly, ProWritingAid is much more involved and methodical in its approach, so read on to know more about it.
ProWritingAid was founded by Chris Banks, a financial analyst with no coding experience. The idea came to him while writing his own novel. He needed to switch up his writing style from the cold and dry one used in his financial reports, to a more expressive and meaningful one for his novel.
During editing, he constantly tried to remember the advice professional writers gave him, and implement that advice in his book. But editing a novel can be serious work, and Chris wanted that kind of quality feedback on a page by page basis.
At first, he looked for proofreading tools that could provide this level of writing advice whenever he needed it, but none had the depth and features he wanted. As a result, he decided to hire a freelance developer and create his own tool. The rest, as they say, is history.
ProWritingAid Free vs Paid comparison
Unlike Grammarly, ProWritingAid Free gives you full access to all of its features, with the notable exception of plagiarism checks.
Like any free version of a program however, its limitations come elsewhere.
|ProWritingAid Free||ProWritingAid Paid|
|All Writing Reports||All Writing Reports|
|500 word correction limit||Unlimited words|
|X||Desktop app, Google Doc, MS Word & other integrations|
|Browser extensions have only basic grammar & style checks||Browser extensions with full features|
|X||50 Plagiarism checks per year|
One advantage of ProWritingAid is that it’s more affordable than Grammarly. Prices are about 40% lower.
|$20||$79 ($7 per month)||$399 ($0.7 per month, assuming you live another 50 years) Also includes all future updates|
Now let’s see how well ProWritingAid performs with our dummy text.
ProWritingAid Grammar & Style check results
ProWritingAid found 5 grammar errors and 2 style issues, versus Grammarly’s 9 grammar errors and 1 style issue, so not promising.
Not promising turns to disappointing because of how many simple errors ProWritingAid missed. It even identified mistakes that weren’t mistakes, and proposed solutions that would make the phrase worse:
- It suggests adding a coma after the very first word in the dummy text, so it would read: “As, per the recent marketing research…”
- Add a space in between “U.S” so it becomes “U. S”.
- It missed the absent “the” in front of “officials in [the] U.S”.
- The same applies to the absent “of” in between “64% [of] people”
- It didn’t spot the missing “be” in “many hurdles that need to [be] overcome to create…”
- Like Grammarly, it didn’t identify an unnecessary “the” in “The issues like disconnected systems”.
- Same with the extra “the” in “data generated by the thorough research”.
- Many missing hyphens such as “data driven”.
It wasn’t all bad, however. ProWritingAid did identify a few issues even Grammarly skimmed over:
- The optional “that” in “64% people confirmed that you need…”
- The unnecessary coma in “But, it’s still a daunting task…”
- In the last sentence, “Why’s it important.”, ProWritingAid correctly suggested replacing the “.” With a “?”.
Overall, however, ProWritingAid missed significantly more errors in the 200 word dummy text compared to Grammarly.
This is concerning since such mistakes happen very often, even to experienced writers. It almost defeats the purpose of a proofreading tool if it can’t find even glaring errors.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a one-off. We tested much longer texts with ProWritingAid, and it consistently failed to flag visible grammar mistakes.
Overall, ProWritingAid isn’t as efficient as Grammarly when identifying grammar and style issues. It doesn’t spot as many errors, and the solutions ProWritingAid suggests are not as good as Grammarly’s.
In any case, our dummy text also had significant clarity issues as well, not just grammar ones. Let’s see if ProWritingAid can make up some ground in that area.
ProWritingAid’s writing reports
In fairness to ProWritingAid, its grammar and style check features represents maybe 20% of its full functionality.
The remaining 80% consists of 20 or so writing reports, each with a specific purpose. When used in combination, these reports analyze and identify particular trends or weak spots in your writing and suggests ways to improve.
Here is a brief explanation of the most useful reports available in ProWritingAid:
- Style report: identifies words and phrases that are replaceable with more elegant ones.
- Grammar report: standard grammar proof reader.
- Thesaurus: provides synonyms for most words in your text.
- Overused: finds words writers in general overuse.
- All repeats: find words you have repeated too often in a text.
- Echoes: detects when the same words are repeated too close to one another.
- Sentence Length: highlights sentences that have too many words.
- Readability: Uses the Flesch Reading Ease system to score how difficult a text is to read.
Overall, it’s great ProWritingAid has this many reports, but the real question is: Do they actually do anything useful? Here too, the answer is mixed.
Some of them truly help and provide value for a writer, especially those relating to synonyms and repetitive words.
However, most reports only point out there’s something wrong in the writing (and says so in confusing terms), but won’t give you a click-to-implement solution. You’ll have to trial-and-error until the text sounds right.
Helpful ProWritingAid reports
The “Thesaurus” report highlights words throughout your text and proposes synonyms that might be a better match.
The report has a shotgun approach and suggests lots of different synonyms. More choice is excellent for native English speakers since they understand the slight differences in meaning between words and can choose the right one.
For non-native speakers, it’s a risky approach because they could pick the word that sounds “better”, but has the wrong meaning for the phrase. In the example above, “signed” and “assured” won’t work.
Overall, however, the Thesaurus report is excellent and a great tool to have in a proof reader.
The All Repeats report points out frequently repeated words throughout the text. Clicking on highlighted words expands a drop-down with synonyms.
It’s a great report. It helps you avoid using the same word too often and find the right choice to express a particular idea or concept.
The Echoes report is similar in concept to the All Repeats report, except it identifies repeated words used in close proximity to one another.
Like with the Thesaurus and All Repeats reports, you can choose synonyms from a drop-down to increase word diversity in your phrase.
Maybe helpful writing reports
The Structure report analyzes how your sentences are tied together and compares them to how most published texts are written.
In our case, the Structure report pretty much highlighted the entire dummy text.
Notice how the report doesn’t offer any click-to-implement rephrasing solution. You have to rewrite it yourself until the highlight disappears.
The same is true for most other reports. They’re useful as a guideline but require manual rewrites until everything’s fixed.
Here’s another example with the Sticky report:
The Sticky sentences report indicates phrases that use too many “glue words”. Glue words connect “working words” so they have meaning and structure in a phrase.
The phrase above is indeed wordy and could be shortened, but ProWritingAid should have gone the extra mile and rephrased it itself.
It isn’t too much to ask, since Grammarly Premium identified the same phrase as overly wordy, and provided the correct click-to-implement solution.
Rewriting things yourself wouldn’t be that hard if explanations were easier to understand for people without an English literature degree. If you think this is an exaggeration, look at the following example:
In terms of actual usage, ProWritingAid isn’t as enjoyable and easy to use as with Grammarly. With Grammarly, you can do most of your work straight away after uploading / writing a text. You don’t need to navigate as many menus to get things done.
To get the most out of ProWritingAid however, you’ll have to filter your writing through multiple reports one after another, which can be very time consuming.
When all is said and done, ProWritingAid’s suggestions aren’t on the same level as Grammarly’s, but they are good enough to work with.
ProWritingAid Free is quite limited in the platforms you can use: the in-browser tool on ProWritingAid.com and a very feature limited browser extension.
The browser extension only corrects basic grammar and spelling mistakes. This means no writing reports such as the Thesaurus, Sticky sentence, Sentence Structure reports etc.
The premium version of ProWritingAid unlocks the extensions for all major platforms:
- Desktop app for Mac & Windows
- Full feature browser extensions
- Google Docs
Overall ProWritingAid’s grammar and style checks aren’t at the same standard as Grammarly’s.
If your biggest requirement from a writing tool is to proofread, find grammar and spelling errors, then ProWritingAid will often let you down.
With Grammarly you can be reasonably sure to have caught all minor mistakes after the 2nd, maybe 3rd reading. You won’t have that confidence with ProWritingAid, and you’ll always wonder if there’s an error hidden somewhere you haven’t seen before – even after multiple readings.
It does compensate by giving you more powerful features in the Free version when compared to Grammarly, but that argument fades away if you’re willing to pay for the actual tool.
Where ProWritingAid does shine is with its many stylistic tools. The depth of these reports can be overwhelming, but they allow you to analyze your writing with an outsider’s eye. Knowing this, you can choose areas of your writing to improve on, and which ones to leave alone.
It is a much more time-consuming process than with Grammarly, but you do get a stronger sense of control over your text.