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Is Grammarly Premium Worth It For Students? [2021 Review]

Jewel Enrile
March 21, 2021
Illustrations by Yuxuan Wu

There's no escaping this virtual writing assistant. After I first started using the free version in high school, I've seen Grammarly everywhere: from YouTube ads to teachers' recommendations. Beyond schoolwork, I also used it for creative writing projects, freelance writing, and daily emails. But no matter how much I used it or heard about it from other people, I never bothered to upgrade to the Premium version. That is, until this month. 

And I've got to say; for students, it was worth every cent.

Why I Got Grammarly Premium

There were three main reasons why I signed up for Grammarly Premium. With online classes starting, I found myself doing more and more written work. Recitations and some class lectures were replaced with discussion boards. There were more essays and reflection papers needed than before. 

One (cursed) class had me writing at least two reflection papers every week. Apart from the content, proper grammar was one rubric that never went away. 

Then, I started to regularly apply to freelance writing jobs. When you want to pass a quality piece, you have to make sure every paragraph is polished. 

I realized that I had started to use Grammarly every day, and I found the free version lacking. I benefited from the standard spelling and grammar checks, sure. Still, with the amount of work I was doing, I needed more assistance with my pieces' tone and delivery. 

For years, I only had the basic version of Grammarly. It did spelling and grammar checks and also pointed out clarity issues. It showed these advanced suggestions all the time, and they were ones you could only correct with Premium.

This got old. Aside from written work, online classes also required a lot of emails. When you neglect some typos in your final essay and send a more embarrassing email to the same professor, you resign to being this emoji:

The free version was no longer as flexible as I'd like it to be. Plus, I spent a lot of time on free-trial plagiarism checker sites with the slowest processing and awful word limits. 

I signed up for Premium and found myself relieved. After a week, Premium was...

Take a look at this before-and-after comparison of the same article.

Pros Cons Grammarly Premium

So, What's New with Premium?

Here are some of the helpful features in Grammarly Premium:

#1: Unlocking More Color-Coded Suggestions 

Previously, you could only access red and blue corrections - for grammar and clarity, respectively. Grammarly Premium allows you to unlock purple and green corrections for delivery and vocabulary. 

Color code Grammarly Premium- Lockcard
Color-coded Suggestions
#2: Correcting Multiple Mistakes At Once 

This was another thing I frequently found myself frustrated at with the free version of Grammarly. There were so many suggestions to go through that it becomes tedious.

With Premium, Grammarly separates the top suggestions from all suggestions. At the very beginning of "Top Suggestions," it bundles corrections to fix with one click. 

Text Suggestions Grammarly Premium - Lockcard
Text Suggestions

I find this feature both convenient and risky. You need to read through all the suggestions it wants to correct. While there's a feature that allows you to review what you just corrected, it's easy to commit mistakes in a rush. 

#3: Rephrasing and Conciseness 

Fellow ramblers will love this feature. 

As someone who spent hours rewording the advanced suggestions to get that perfect 100 content score, the automated rephrasing was a relief. Instead of manually rephrasing everything yourself, Grammarly does it for you.

Rephrasing Grammarly Premium - Lockcard
Rephrasing Suggestions
#4: Strengthening Vocabulary 

Grammarly picks out weak or overused words and suggests substitutes. Out of all the Premium features, I find this one as the least helpful of the lot.

In my quest to clear all "Advanced Suggestions" with the free version before, I know that Grammarly has a grudge against me for using the word "important." I usually concede and use "crucial" or "vital" as they suggest, but I found more of their substitutes odd.

They filed their substitute word suggestions under "variety" or "vocabulary." 

Vocabulary Correcter Grammarly Premium - Lockcard
Substitute words

In this example, I was writing about book titles. Grammarly wanted me to replace it with "tags" or "labels."

It's better for the vocabulary strengthening to be up to you. There are times I'm satisfied with the word I initially chose and deleted the one they suggest. 

Then, there are times I go hunt for more striking substitutes. I go straight to Google, or I use Lockcard if I want to remember them over time.
#5: Plagiarism Checker 

finally have a quick and easy plagiarism checker. As a student and writer, you want to cite all of your sources correctly. Still, you also want to avoid any accidental plagiarism.

Plagiarism checker

There's a high chance your teachers are running your online essays through plagiarism checkers, too. And the consequence when you're caught is never worth the act.

Writing tip: Besides learning how to paraphrase, see what style guide your teacher or instructor gave you. There are specific formats for references, citations, fonts, and spacing. Don't lose an A based on a technicality!

‍Is Grammarly Premium For You? ‍

If you identify with any of the following:

  • A student in a program that requires a lot of written work
  • Someone in need of something to help out with clarity, flow, fluency, and delivery
  • Someone who does writing as a living
  • A Grammarly user who's lived with the free version, with all its flaws and imperfections, and is now wondering if there's anything more to this proofreading life

Then yes! It's definitely an investment. It saves you time and allows you to have higher-quality pieces for work or school. It pays for itself many times over. 

However, the pricing plans may not be as accessible to some students. If you want to try it out, you can get Premium for a month. See if it actually becomes helpful to you. Then, decide to cancel or continue your subscription. ‍

‍Honestly, if you need a more intuitive writing assistant, just the basic version can help. Premium isn't necessary, but it does take a load off my shoulders. 

The Verdict 

Grammarly, either free or Premium, is worth it.

However, no software can act as a substitute for being your own best critic and editor. Grammarly can distinguish flaws and contexts, but not to the extent that humans can. You don't have to follow every suggestion. You need to discern what fits your goals, what doesn't, and how you can write better

Are you ready to take on Grammarly Premium? It's an investment I have myself, so I'm excited if you do! If not, try to give the free version a try. We all benefit from better, polished writing.

Charlotte Chen, Designer @Duolingo

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