We love you, grammar

Are they just jerking your chain?

I used Grammarly to online proofreader this post, because sometimes I don’t know my hast from my elbow.

We all know that the right words can make the message memorable, whereas the wrong words can make the message memorable too, but for all the wrong reasons.

You could say that the holy trinity of good writing is spelling, punctuation and grammar. Or is it ‘one could say’? And then, of course, there’s the issue of context – as the image opposite illustrates.*

I sometimes struggle with grammar for several reasons:
1. It wasn’t taught at school.
2. Strunk & White will only get you so far.
3. British English and American English are as alike as two essentially similar, but somewhat different peas in proximal pods. (And there’s a reason why that particular expression never caught on.)

When it comes to subtle nuances of American English I can often rely on Monika Spykerman, but she isn’t always available and refuses to keep UK hours online. So I was intrigued when the folks at Grammarly approached me to test their online product.

It checks for both American English and British English, so here’s their evaluation for this post.

Check please!

It looks like I’ve still got some work to do!

* Available for t-shirts and affordable corporate motivational posters everywhere.


  1. Chloe says:

    Wow! I'd be too afraid to use that – can't think they'd be too impressed with me!

  2. You can get the scoring for free. I dare you – we each take an opening para (or up to 50 words) of our works in progress, run it through Grammarly, take a screenshot of the score and compare notes!

  3. motheroad says:

    Jeez. And I thought I was the Grammar Nazi.

    (Derek, I find your grammatical usage to be highly…well, passable. Or at least plausible. It's a question of style, really, isn't it?)

    – Monika

  4. Monika, you're more than generous. I recall you giving me a masterclass on US line editing. When are you going to write a novel???

  5. Chloe says:

    Well, I didn't screen shot but I promise I got 56/100 (and why would I lie about such a poor score?). 4 issues – three of which were "style" which I don't believe any automated system can check for. I'm a bit surprised I wasn't worse actually – I write fragmented sentences all the time.

  6. Still a better score than mine then! Fragmented sentences are one of my things too, according to feedback. I think, in my case, that it's down to two things: 1. I like dialogue (and internal dialogue) to be realistic and not rigid. 2. I have a certain rhythm of writing. At least, that's what I tell myself!

  7. Monika says:

    You might as well ask, "When am I going to clean out my garage?"

  8. From what I know of you, a novel is more likely! Maybe you could do both and claim the garage as a writing space?

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