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After posting yesterday’s blog about Grammarly, I searched for and found reviews here, here, and here.  All the reviews reinforced my belief that the upgrade to the professional version is not worth it.  Try this short quiz.  Can you explain the following grammatical terms?

– dangling modifier;
– gerund versus participle;
– passive versus active voice;
– squinting modifier;
– comma splice;
– appositives;
– superlative versus comparative.

Do you believe that splitting the infinitive is wrong?  And how about starting a sentence with a conjunction and ending with a preposition?  Is this something up with which you will not put?  Was the girl sat in the chair or sitting in the chair, or don’t you care?  Is I’d a contraction for I had or I would or should I’d be avoided as a contraction?

My point is, if you know the answers to these questions, you’ve no need to upgrade to the professional version of Grammarly because you will not commit solecisms of these types or, if you do, you will do so deliberately.  If you don’t know the answers, what will you do with Grammarly’s suggestions?

Okay, okay, it’s not as simple as this but, as I said in yesterday’s blog, you will need a reasonable knowledge of English grammar to make sense of Grammarly’s advice and if you have this knowledge why do you need the advice?  Also, if you have this knowledge, you will almost certainly “break the rules” in the interest of creative writing.  Who’s to say a rule is a rule anyway?  There is no definitive set of English-grammar rules maintained by an official organisation so who is to pronounce what is right and wrong?  When Woody Harrelson said “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” in the movie Natural Born Killers, it seemed he was committing a grammatical crime of magnificent proportions but there was no mistaking what he meant! And, in any case, if he had said “You have seen somethin’ yet,” (the logical result of cancelling the two negatives), his statement would have made no sense.

One of the beauties of writing in the English language is the lack of firm agreed rules allows creative writing to flourish.  Grammarly runs the risk of stifling this freedom.  How do you think Shakespeare would have reacted to Grammarly’s advice had he submitted his manuscripts for scrutiny before publication?  Use the professional version of Grammarly with caution.  Use the free version to catch stupid errors but be prepared to ignore many of the suggestions.