Grammarly is Garbage, and Here's Why

Zoe Bee
24 Jan 202116:48

TLDRThe video script critiques Grammarly, a popular writing tool, arguing that it oversimplifies complex language issues and can misguide users about grammatical correctness. It discusses 'rhetorical grammar' and how context affects language use, pointing out that Grammarly's suggestions can sometimes be incorrect or ignore stylistic choices. The speaker, a writing teacher, questions the tool's ability to genuinely improve writing skills and expresses concerns about its authority on language 'correctness', advocating for a more nuanced understanding of language evolution and use.


  • ๐Ÿ“š Grammar is a complex set of rules that can be interpreted differently, affecting the perception of 'right' and 'wrong' in language use.
  • ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Grammarly started as a simple spelling and grammar-checking tool but has expanded to offer writing enhancement services.
  • ๐Ÿค” The effectiveness of Grammarly in improving writing is questioned, as it may not account for rhetorical grammar and stylistic choices.
  • ๐Ÿ‘€ Grammarly's preference for active voice may not be suitable for all contexts, potentially overlooking the validity of passive voice usage.
  • ๐Ÿ“‰ The tool's suggestions are not always accurate, as it sometimes flags correct grammar as incorrect, affecting the meaning of sentences.
  • ๐Ÿ” Grammarly's focus on 'wordiness' and synonym suggestions can sometimes ignore the importance of connotation and context.
  • ๐Ÿง Even professionals can find Grammarly's advice helpful, but they must discern between good and bad suggestions, a skill many users lack.
  • ๐Ÿ“ Learning from Grammarly is limited, as it may not provide a deep understanding of why certain grammar rules are considered mistakes.
  • ๐ŸŽ“ Being a good writer involves more than just producing grammatically correct text; it includes skill, knowledge, thought process, and passion.
  • ๐ŸŒ Grammarly's existence assumes a definitive 'right and wrong' in language, which overlooks the fluid and evolving nature of language.
  • ๐Ÿ’ก The video encourages viewers to embrace the complexity and fun of language, rather than relying solely on tools like Grammarly for validation.

Q & A

  • What is the main argument presented in the video about Grammarly?

    -The main argument is that while Grammarly is marketed as a tool to improve writing, it often fails to account for the complexities and nuances of language, including rhetorical grammar and stylistic choices, and can sometimes provide incorrect advice.

  • Why does the speaker believe that Grammarly's approach to grammar can be problematic?

    -The speaker argues that Grammarly's approach can be problematic because it oversimplifies language rules and doesn't consider the context, purpose, and audience of the writing, which can lead to incorrect or inappropriate suggestions.

  • What is 'rhetorical grammar' as mentioned in the video?

    -Rhetorical grammar refers to the idea that the way grammar is used in writing can change based on the purpose, audience, and content of the writing, which Grammarly does not take into account.

  • How does Grammarly handle passive voice according to the video?

    -Grammarly defaults to preferring the active voice and often incorrectly flags passive voice sentences as wrong, despite passive voice being a valid and sometimes necessary stylistic choice.

  • What issue does the speaker have with Grammarly's handling of synonyms?

    -The speaker criticizes Grammarly for suggesting synonyms without considering the connotations and tonal differences between words, which can lead to changes in meaning that the writer did not intend.

  • Why does the speaker argue that relying on Grammarly might not make someone a better writer?

    -The speaker argues that relying on Grammarly can give a false sense of confidence and prevent users from learning the underlying reasons for grammar rules and mistakes, thus not truly improving their writing skills.

  • What is the speaker's view on the role of language evolution in the context of Grammarly?

    -The speaker believes that language should evolve and change, and that Grammarly's focus on 'correctness' can hinder this natural process of linguistic evolution.

  • How does the speaker suggest Grammarly could be useful for some people?

    -The speaker suggests that Grammarly can be useful for those who are already familiar with grammar rules and confident in their writing, as a tool for polishing their work, but not for learning or improving writing skills.

  • What is the speaker's advice for people who are not experts in English and considering using Grammarly?

    -The speaker advises that for those who are not experts and cannot discern good advice from bad, Grammarly might do more harm than good by providing a false sense of correctness and preventing actual learning.

  • What alternative view does the speaker offer to the idea of 'correct' language as promoted by Grammarly?

    -The speaker offers the view that language is fluid and context-dependent, and that the idea of 'correct' language is often arbitrary and can vary greatly between different varieties of English.

  • How does the speaker conclude the video regarding the use of Grammarly?

    -The speaker concludes by encouraging viewers to have fun with language and not be overly reliant on programs like Grammarly, and to trust their own abilities as writers.



๐Ÿค” The Complexity of Grammar and Writing Tools

The script opens with a discussion on the polarizing nature of grammar, highlighting its importance in structuring language and the debates surrounding its 'correctness'. It introduces 'Grammarly', a writing tool that promises to enhance clarity and tone, and poses questions about its efficacy and the implications of relying on AI for writing guidance. The narrator, a writing teacher, expresses both hope for improved writing and skepticism about Grammarly's ability to truly make one a better writer.


๐Ÿ“š Critiquing Grammarly's Claims and Limitations

This paragraph delves into the limitations of Grammarly, using specific examples from the narrator's own writing to illustrate how the tool's suggestions can sometimes be misguided or incorrect. It discusses the concept of 'rhetorical grammar', emphasizing that grammar's appropriateness can vary based on context, audience, and purpose. The narrator points out that Grammarly tends to favor the active voice and may incorrectly flag the passive voice or other stylistic choices, undermining the nuanced understanding of language.


๐Ÿง The Perils of Relying on Grammarly for Learning

The narrator, as an English professor, critiques Grammarly's claim to help build writing skills, arguing that blindly following its advice without understanding the reasoning behind it is unproductive for learning. They compare relying on Grammarly to solving a math problem incorrectly but accidentally arriving at the right answer, highlighting the importance of understanding grammar rules rather than just correcting mistakes. The paragraph also touches on the tool's shortcomings in teaching grammatical concepts and the potential negative impact on users' confidence and learning.


๐ŸŒ The Fluidity of Language and the Flaws of Prescriptive Tools

In the final paragraph, the narrator addresses the broader philosophical and practical issues with tools like Grammarly. They argue that language is fluid and that the concept of 'correctness' is often arbitrary and context-dependent. The narrator questions the authority of such tools to dictate language use and warns of the potential harm in stigmatizing non-standard dialects. They advocate for an appreciation of language evolution and criticize Grammarly for possibly hindering this natural process. The video concludes with a nuanced view of Grammarly's utility, suggesting it may be helpful for confident writers but potentially detrimental for those still learning.

๐Ÿ“ฃ Closing Remarks and Call to Action

The script concludes with a call to viewer engagement, inviting feedback on Grammarly in the comments section. The narrator expresses gratitude for the viewers' support and encourages them to follow her on social media and consider supporting her on Patreon. The closing remarks include a playful jab at the importance of grammar, with background music that humorously emphasizes the point, and a warm sign-off until the next video.




Grammar refers to the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given language. In the context of the video, grammar is presented as a complex system that can be subject to various interpretations and styles. The script discusses how Grammarly, a writing tool, attempts to enforce certain grammar rules but may not always account for the nuances of language, such as rhetorical grammar and stylistic choices.

๐Ÿ’กRhetorical Grammar

Rhetorical grammar is the concept that the purpose, audience, and content of writing can influence how grammar is used. The video uses this term to illustrate that the same event can be described differently, affecting the meaning conveyed to the reader. For example, 'I ate the cake' versus 'The cake was eaten' changes the focus and implication of agency.

๐Ÿ’กActive Voice

Active voice is a grammatical term where the subject of the sentence performs the action. The video points out that Grammarly tends to prefer active voice constructions, suggesting that passive voice sentences are incorrect when, in reality, the choice between active and passive voice is a matter of style and context, not correctness.

๐Ÿ’กPassive Voice

Passive voice is when the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb. The script argues that Grammarly incorrectly flags passive voice constructions as errors, overlooking the validity and appropriateness of passive voice in certain contexts, such as when the doer of the action is unknown or less important.


Wordiness refers to the use of more words than necessary to convey a message. The video criticizes Grammarly for inappropriately flagging certain phrases as wordy without considering the nuance and impact of the original wording, such as the difference between 'instructors are facing' and 'instructors face'.


Synonyms are words that have the same or similar meanings. The script discusses how Grammarly suggests replacing words with their synonyms without considering the subtle differences in connotation, which can change the tone or meaning of a sentence.


Tone refers to the attitude or emotion conveyed in a piece of writing. The video argues that Grammarly's suggestions may not always match the intended tone of the writer, as the tool may not fully understand the contextual nuances of language.

๐Ÿ’กLanguage Evolution

Language evolution is the process by which languages change and develop over time. The video emphasizes that Grammarly's focus on static 'correctness' does not account for the dynamic and evolving nature of language, potentially hindering natural linguistic growth.


Prescriptivism is the belief that there is a single 'correct' or 'proper' form of a language, to which all usage should conform. The script critiques Grammarly for its prescriptivist approach, suggesting that it may impose arbitrary rules and discourage the natural variation and creativity in language use.

๐Ÿ’กWriting Skills

Writing skills encompass the ability to effectively communicate ideas through the written word. The video questions Grammarly's claim that using its tool can build writing skills, arguing that true skill development requires understanding the reasons behind grammatical choices, not just adherence to rules.


Confidence in writing refers to a writer's belief in their own abilities to produce well-written text. The script warns that relying on Grammarly can give users a false sense of confidence, as they may not truly understand the language rules and may not improve their writing abilities.


Grammarly is criticized for oversimplifying complex language issues and not being able to adapt to the nuances of rhetorical grammar.

The video challenges the idea that Grammarly can make anyone a better writer, questioning the validity of AI in language correction.

Grammarly's promise to polish writing and ensure error-free text is scrutinized for its feasibility and actual effectiveness.

The concept of 'rhetorical grammar' is introduced, emphasizing the importance of context in language use, which Grammarly fails to consider.

Examples are given to illustrate how different sentence structures can change the meaning, despite being grammatically correct.

Grammarly's preference for the active voice is critiqued for not recognizing the validity of passive voice in certain contexts.

The video points out that Grammarly incorrectly flags stylistic choices as grammatical errors, affecting the intended meaning of sentences.

Grammarly's approach to 'wordiness' is questioned, with examples showing how tense usage can change the dynamic of a sentence.

Synonyms are discussed as not being perfect replacements for each other, with connotations playing a crucial role in language.

Grammarly's limitations in understanding context are highlighted through examples of incorrect synonym suggestions.

The presenter, an English professor, shares personal experiences of receiving both good and bad advice from Grammarly.

The video argues that relying on Grammarly can prevent true learning and understanding of grammar and language.

Grammarly's explanations for errors are praised, but its claim to help users learn grammatical concepts is disputed.

The importance of understanding why grammar rules are correct or incorrect is emphasized over just identifying errors.

Language evolution and the fluidity of grammar are discussed, questioning Grammarly's role in dictating 'correctness'.

The potential harm of Grammarly in enforcing a single standard of English on diverse dialects and language use is considered.

The video concludes that Grammarly might be useful for confident writers but not for those who need to learn grammar fundamentals.

A call to embrace the fun and evolving nature of language is made, encouraging writers to find their own voice beyond prescriptive tools.