So, I was sitting in my sixth grade English class, bumbling through a diagram of a forever-long sentence, when I realized an eight and a half-inch width of paper wasn’t going to cut it.
I should have rotated the paper 90 degrees, ignored the confining lines on the sheet, and scrawled across it that way. Eleven inches across would have been good.
Instead, I raised my hand. The teacher approached.
I’m off the edge of the paper.
Towers over my shoulder.
Drop down and continue on the next line.
Two lines? … I can’t keep track of one line … what am I doing?… PANIC … what’s an adverb again? … a direct object? … help!!!
For reasons that still elude me, the teacher issued a transfer a few days after and I landed in an advanced English group. Literature, no more grammar.
I later tested-out of Senior High School English, as well as the English courses required for my undergrad degree. These turned out to be unfortunate decisions—easy ways out generally are—because grammar still kicks my butt.
I’m not alone, and I know this because now there are oodles of web-based tools for the grammar-challenged. None of these applications are perfect, but all the following offer at minimum a free version and flag your work for common mistakes … mistakes that go far beyond the error-checks in Word.
Advice: Submit your work to several because these sites catch different things. Oh, and don’t take an error report as gospel.
Autocrit Try it for free and analyze a text block of up to 500 words three times per day. The gratis analysis gives reports on overused words, sentence variation, and clichés and redundancies.
Pro Writing Aid Similar to Autocrit, but offers more reports and has no word count submission limit. A MS Word addin is available.
PaperRater Spelling, grammar, word choice, style and vocabulary. This one letter-grades your work. I’m still ticked about my grade.
Grammark Check for passive voice, wordiness, transitions, some grammar, and initial conjunctions.
GrammarBase Checks grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Spell Check Plus The report is spare. Does spell check and basic grammar. 250 word limit.
Grammarly Lots of whiz-bang features and is supposedly top-rated, but expensive. They offer a seven-day ‘free’ try, but you must set up an account with a credit card, which is charged unless you cancel before the trial expires.
The following produce bare-bones reports, but include a button/link offering a ‘more detailed analysis’. The link is back to Grammarly.
After the Deadline (Firefox add-on) Checks style, grammar and spelling when writing on the web. Handy for polishing blog comments and such.
Just for fun
I Write Like And last, there’s the ever-popular I Write Like site. Enter several paragraphs of text and find which well-known author’s work your writing approaches. The site awards a badge suitable for display on your web page or blog.
Thanks for the pic, nuttakit
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