UncategorisedWhy you can't trust Grammarly to edit your work | The Editing Lounge | Shrewsbury | Oswestry
Why you can't trust Grammarly to edit your work | The Editing Lounge

Lots of people who don’t understand what copyeditors do think we’re human incarnations of Grammarly who can’t fix your manuscript any more than an AI tool can. 

(If I had a pound for every time someone told me I ‘just fix commas’, I’d be rich.) 

Safe to say, copyeditors achieve a whole lot more than Grammarly does (have a look at this screengrab of my copyediting work, although not of fiction for confidentiality reasons). 

But I haven’t written this blog post to explain what a copyeditor’s role entails. Instead, I’ll explain why Grammarly is often wrong and why, although it can be a helpful tool to use with a pinch of salt, applying Grammarly instead of hiring a copyeditor won’t get your manuscript anywhere near its best shape.

Grammarly won't fix all your technical errors

Grammarly might bill itself as a tool that can help you identify ‘errors that other spelling and grammar checkers can’t catch’, but it does miss several technical problems. 

These examples are just a few of the errors I’ve seen in manuscripts that authors have put through Grammarly.


  • Articles (like ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’).
  • Prepositions (like ‘on’, ‘in’ and ‘under’).
  • Quotation marks (like at the end of a quote).
  • Conjunctions (like ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘or’).

And misplaced:

  • Possessives (like ‘Sarah’s ran’ instead of ‘Sarah ran’).
  • Articles in front of proper nouns (like ‘The Helen’).
Grammarly won't fix all your technical errors | The Editing Lounge

Grammarly detects problems that aren't problems

Grammarly will detect problems that aren't problems | The Editing Lounge

Grammarly also detects ‘problems’ that often aren’t problematic at all. For example, it highlights passive voice, split infinitives, and uncertain pronoun references. 

While it is good to avoid these things sometimes, there are times and places for all of the above. 

When using Grammarly, you need to know when to tell it no.

Grammarly suggests questionable spellings

Grammarly frequently flags ‘misspelt’ words. And sometimes this is helpful. But other times, Grammarly’s suggested spelling isn’t the only right one. Often, Grammarly tells me to use a spelling that’s different to the spelling in my dictionary. 

So, pick a dictionary and stick to it. Value this dictionary’s spellings above any other, and no one will be able to criticise your consistency

I use the Oxford English Dictionary (this free online Lexico Dictionary follows Oxford spellings).

Grammarly will suggest questionable spellings | The Editing Lounge

Grammarly will make incorrect suggestions

Grammarly will make incorrect suggestions |

While Grammarly does offer some helpful suggestions to fix typos and make your writing more readable, some of its suggestions are just wrong. 

For example, one of Grammarly’s weakest points is its understanding of commas. Grammarly constantly suggests that you insert commas in the oddest places. And a misplaced comma can drastically change the meaning of your sentence.

Grammarly doesn't know you or your goals

Unlike Grammarly, a copyeditor will edit with your goals, genre, and audience in mind. They know who you are, what your style is, and what you want to achieve out of your writing. They’ll emulate your voice and style and apply a personal approach to your edit.


Grammarly doesn't know you or your goals | The Editing Lounge

When to use Grammarly

When to use Grammarly | The Editing Lounge

Grammarly is a fabulous tool if you already understand grammar and know when to ignore it. But if your grammar knowledge isn’t sparkly, be very careful how much you listen to Grammarly.

Most importantly, remember that Grammarly isn’t a replacement for a human editor. Instead, it can be a good way to check for typos before you send your manuscript to an editor. 

A qualified editorial professional will be able to perform a thorough, contextualised edit and offer suggestions tailored to your specific needs.

On that note, watch out for very low-priced ‘editors’. If the price seems too good to be true, they’ll likely push your manuscript through Grammarly Premium and then return it to you under the guise of having ‘copyedited’ it.

About Charlotte

Charlotte McCormac | Line Editor | Copyeditor | Content Writer | Shrewsbury | Oswestry

Charlotte is an award-winning writer and line/copyeditor who writes and edits for clients all over the world. She also works on the fiction team for Ambit, a UK literary and arts magazine. 

She holds an international literary prize from Hammond House Publishing Group, two writing-related degrees, various marketing certifications, and training certificates from the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, of which she is a Professional Member.

Charlotte’s work has appeared in several anthologies, magazines, and literary journals, including IndigomaniaDream Catcher, and The Curlew

She has also created a series of free self-editing cheat sheets to help new writers hone their fiction before sending their work off to a professional editor.

CIEP | Professional Member | The Editing Lounge