The pros and cons of grammar-checking software

With Grammarly claiming upwards of 30 million daily users as of 2020 and Microsoft Editor built into every edition of Word, grammar-checking software is ubiquitous and clearly in demand. For professional communicators, are there trade-offs in relying on software to get writing “right”?

Grammar-checking apps have advanced by leaps and bounds. Beyond catching outright errors, they can suggest ways to express ideas more simply and concisely, check punctuation and even evaluate a document’s vocabulary level. While this can be enormously helpful, these tools also assert plain language values that can undermine style if they’re followed too rigidly.

That’s because style is all about choices that allow a writer’s voice — or the brand voice of an organization — to come through. Those choices aren’t always going to be the most economical or conventional way of expressing an idea: that’s what makes them stand out.

The upshot? We all benefit from the objective analysis of our writing software offers, but the decision to bend a convention or even outright break a rule can keep writing fresh and distinctive. So take that next grammar check with your own personal grain of salt!