How Grammarly Works: A Tutorial For New Users

Discover how Grammarly works and what to expect in our detailed Grammarly tutorial.

I’ve been a Grammarly customer since 2013 or 2014. It’s a key tool that I consider part of my writing and publishing workflow. Grammarly is an exceptional tool that will help you improve your English writing skills, write with confidence, and press publish or submit much easier. 

So in this in-depth Grammarly tutorial, I will cover how you can set Grammarly up, what version of this writing tool is right for you, and explain how some of its key features work. If you’re on the fence about using it, read our Grammarly review first.

I’ll also explain how Grammarly can help you improve your English writing skills and talk about some of the hidden features of Grammarly, including some new ones.

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Grammarly Video Tutorial

I explain how Grammarly works in this video and discuss many key features below.

YouTube video

What is Grammarly and How Does It Work?

Grammarly is a spelling and grammar checker and an AI-powered writing assistant. It’s particularly good for checking your emails and social media posts and editing your posts, articles, or book chapters. You can use it to copy-edit some of your stories or non-fiction.

It’s useful for professionals who want to prepare business proposals and other documents before sending them to team members or publishing them. It also works well for presentations, marketing materials, and professional writing. You can use Grammarly to grammar check and improve the quality of any writing, whether it’s on your computer, tablet, smartphone, or online. 

Grammarly is typically free for most writers to check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other issues in your writing that you want to fix without paying anything. You can do almost everything I will show you in this tutorial. 

However, if you want some context behind your grammar errors, use the AI-powered writing assistant, or need help with word choice and synonyms, you will need a premium plan subscription. 

Why Is it Important to Use Grammarly?

Grammarly is beneficial for several different types of writers. It can help professional writers edit their work faster. It can also help new writers learn the finer points of English grammar by improving their work. And it can help professionals write anything for work with confidence. It can also dramatically cut down the time spent editing and revising, thanks to artificial intelligence.

Setting up Grammarly

It’s easy to set up your Grammarly account. Sign up using your best Google, Facebook, Apple, or personal email address. Later, you can upgrade to the premium version, but you can use the free version of Grammarly to complete many of the steps in this tutorial. 

  • Log into the web app on Grammarly or
  • Visit the apps section
  • Install the Grammarly app for your Windows or Mac computer
  • Install the Grammarly browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge
  • Install Grammarly keyboard for your mobile phone

Grammarly automatically provides the right app depending on what device you action this section with. Alternatively, look for Grammarly in the Apple App or Google Play stores. The Grammarly desktop app works across all writing apps on a computer, including Microsoft Office and Google Docs. Unfortunately, browsers like Opera or Brave are not supported. If you get stuck at this step, I’ve created separate Grammarly installation instructions below: 

How to Add Grammarly to Google Docs

How to Add Grammarly to Microsoft Word

How to Add Grammarly to Gmail

Set Language Preferences

How Grammarly Works:: Set language preferences
Open up a Grammarly document, click on the hamburger menu and select your relevant language preferences

After installing Grammarly, set whether you’re writing American, British, Canadian, or Australian English. Open up a Grammarly document, click on the hamburger menu and select your relevant language preferences. You can change these back at any time.

There are differences in spellings between these variations. For example, in the United States, writers “I realise I need to improve my grammar skills” whereas, in the United Kingdom, they write, “I realise I need to improve my Grammarly skills.”

At the time of writing, Grammarly only supports the English language. However, the company plans to support other languages at some point.

How to Create a Grammarly Account

Grammarly is free to use. Grammarly Premium costs $30 per month. Prices do vary depending on what promotion Grammarly is running. I cover the differences in more detail in this Grammarly Free Vs. Premium article.

Grammarly Business, outside the scope of this tutorial, is built on a per-seat basis. This is useful if you want to use Grammarly within your company, give team members in your secure business access, and create a custom style guide for your business. 

If you’re a new writer or starting out, the free version of Grammarly free is fine. It will help you find and fix more errors than a traditional grammar or spelling checker. The premium version is good if you write professionally or want to improve your professional English writing skills. 

Using Grammarly to Check Your Writing

The Grammarly side-bar
The floating Grammarly icon, identified with a G or a number triggers the Grammarly sidebar

The easiest way to use Grammarly is to install the desktop app for your operating system and the plugin for your browser. Once that’s set up, write or work as usual. 

When ready, click on the floating Grammarly icon, identified with a G or a number, to activate it. That triggers the Grammarly sidebar and underlines sections of your work in red. Conversely, if the real-time fixes are distracting, you can turn Grammarly off inside a specific app by selecting the gear cog on this icon. If you’re ever wondering why is Grammarly not working, simply open or restart the desktop app and or look for the floating Grammarly icon.

Your other option is to write as usual in Microsoft Word or another app. Save your work as a file and upload it to the Grammarly editor or web app and check for errors that way. Or copy and paste.

Once activated, Grammarly presents four types of writing reports. All are accessible via tooltips or a pop-up. Work through each of the Grammarly reports individually rather than all at once. 

Grammarly Writing Reports

If you’re wondering how to get a report from Grammarly, click on the score on the toolbar or the floating Grammarly icon. You review the report, download a PDF report, and send this to another writer, editor, or team member.

First, review the overall score in Grammarly. It provides information about how many characters, words, and sentences are in a document. If you have a set word counts, that’s useful. 

Grammarly reports on speaking time too. A few years ago, I narrated an audiobook. I used the speaking time reports to gauge how long it would take to narrate specific chapters from my book.

Aim to get the readability score as high as possible because it’ll make it easier for your readers to understand what you want to say. That said, it’s tough to get a readability score above 80 or 90. A score above 60 is good enough.

If you run into issues, reduce complicated language, break up your sentences and introduce formatting. That said, start by working through Grammarly’s usual suggestions, and you’ll find a readability score naturally improves. Learn more about how the Grammarly Readability report works.

Grammarly Limitations

In a 24-hour period, you can check 100 documents or 50,000 words. In a 30-day period, you can check up to 300 documents or 150,000 words with Grammarly. These limitations also apply to the plagiarism checker. For context, a non-fiction bulk average between 50,000-70,000 words a novel averages one hundred thousand words. 

In my years using Grammarly, I’ve never hit this limitation, and I use it to check my writing and the writing of other team members. However, the grammar checker can slow down if I paste a lengthy document into Grammarly, say greater than 10,000 words. Instead, check individual chapters or sections of long-form works rather than all at once, say 2,000 words. You’ll find it challenging to work through grammar errors for an entire book or long-form work in one grammar editing session.

Grammarly Writing Goals

Open the goals section and pick a goal based on your document and audience. If unsure, it’s OK to select: “General,” “Inform,” “Knowledgeable,” and “Neutral.” 

However, if you change these goals, it tailors the number of suggestions Grammarly surfaces in its Clarity and Delivery reports. With a few exceptions, don’t worry about goals at the start of the grammar-checking process. Instead, start using Grammarly.

Suppose you’re writing something academic or technical. Then, select formal, expert, and academic. Also, pick a preferred citation style. That way, Grammarly will provide more relevant suggestions in its reports. However, these are overkill for casual writers.

How to Use Grammarly to Check for Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation errors

Write an article, email, blog post, or whatever you’re working on as usual. When ready, click on the floating Grammarly icon, identified with a G or a number, to activate it. That triggers Grammarly and underlines sections of your work in red. Conversely, you can turn Grammarly off inside a specific app by selecting the gear cog on this icon. Your other option is to write as usual and then upload the file to the Grammarly editor or web app to check for errors.

Once activated, Grammarly presents four types of writing reports. All are accessible via tooltips or a pop-up. Work through each of the Grammarly reports individually rather than all at once. 

I don’t start with the reports, though. My favorite Grammarly premium feature is the ability to apply multiple fixes at a click. I check these suggestions at the top of the Grammarly sidebar. Often this includes typo fixes and copyediting suggestions from the Grammarly rewriter.

Click on it, and Grammarly presents the most critical suggestions in a document. Bin the ones that don’t make sense and apply the rest. Then, work through the below reports.

Grammarly Correctness Report

Grammarly correctness report
Correctness report underlines critical typos, punctuation mistakes, grammar, and spelling mistakes in red

Start with the Correctness report. This report underlines critical typos, punctuation mistakes, grammar, and spelling mistakes in red. Fix these before you press publish, submit or send! 

Enter a fundamental difference between the free and premium versions of Grammarly. I can click on “Learn more” with the premium version to find additional context, information, and examples. So, if you want more confidence writing in English or to improve your grammar skills, it’s great for learning by doing.

Work through these changes one by one deciding what you want to accept or reject. Some changes require a manual edit, while you can apply others by clicking to accept the change.

Grammarly Clarity Report

Grammarly clarity report
Clarity report highlights awkward and wordy sentences or phrases in blue

The Clarity report helps with turning a draft into something easier to understand. It highlights awkward and wordy sentences or phrases in blue. It also flags unnecessary or redundant words. Grammarly’s AI sometimes proposes rewrites that you can accept at a click. It’s a time-saver for editing, but it’s for premium customers.

The full-sentence rewrites feature exists inside this report too. Click individual sentences, and Grammarly will propose sentence structure suggestions you can apply. It also provides context behind these suggestions based on your preferred style and writing goals. I use this feature daily to rewrite or edit freelance writers’ works for my sites.

Grammarly Engagement Report

Grammarly engagement report
An engagement report is helpful if you want to make your writing more colorful or positive

The suggestions in this report, like the Delivery report, are optional. They also change depending on the goals you set for the document or piece of writing. This report is helpful if you want to make your writing more colorful or positive. It underlines vocabulary fixes in green. Click on these to find vocabulary, synonyms, and phrasing suggestions.

Grammarly Delivery Report

Grammarly delivery report
This report helps fix problems related to slang or informal language

The Delivery report highlights issues in purple related to formality and tone. Use this report to fix problems related to slang or informal language. It’s more suited towards professionals and academics.

How to Use Grammarly’s Plagiarism Checker

The Grammarly plagiarism report is for premium users. Unlike with other plagiarism checkers, you don’t have to buy additional credits to use it. To learn more, read our guide to the best plagiarism detectors.

If you’re a writer or professional and concerned about plagiarism (accidental or otherwise), it only takes an extra few minutes to use. It could save you from embarrassment or other issues later. I use the plagiarism Checker regularly when vetting new freelance writers. I also use it to fix or source missing citations and links.

Several months ago, I checked an article from my site. I was shocked to find another content website plagiarized my article almost verbatim and published it on their site under their name without permission. So, I immediately initiated a DMCA takedown request. 

Click the plagiarism checker when you finish editing. It takes a few minutes to scan it against billions of web pages online. The caveat is that the content must be freely accessible, i.e., not gated content or something in a book. 

Once completed, it applies a percentage score to your work. If you see a score between five and ten percent, it’s okay because your work may use a product name, a quote, or something commonly used online. If you get a higher plagiarism score, investigate it. Click the relevant sections Grammarly has flagged as plagiarism and inspect the source links. Now either add a citation, a link or revise. 

Advanced Features of Grammarly

Next, I’ll cover the newer and more advanced features of Grammarly. These update over time; some are still in beta, so your mileage may vary.

Tone Detector

The Grammarly rewrite is based on its tone detector technology. It’s beneficial for professionals who want to understand what impression they’re making on recipients. 

For example, if writing an email in Outlook or Gmail, look for the emoji on the top of the floating Grammarly tooltip. It’s an at-a-glance insight into how your writing sounds. You can also access the tone detector as part of the web or desktop app Delivery reports, bearing in mind that a piece’s writing goals affect suggestions. 

The Grammarly rewrite or tone detector provides insight into the tone of a sentence and a suggestion that’s more confident, positive, or diplomatic. Remember, these are suggestions, not prescriptions!

For example, if I write, “I hate the way our company handles customer,” Grammarly suggest changing this to a more positive message, “I wouldn’t say I like the way our company handles customer support.“

Citation Manager

Grammarly recently released a beta feature for managing citations. It’s a real time-saver if you write research papers or non-fiction. Still in beta, it only works on some journals like PubMed and some sites like Wikipedia. I’d expect support to improve.

If the site you’re looking at is supported, click on the floating “Get citation” button. Grammarly will present a citation for APA MLA or Chicago that you can paste into your writing app.

Alternatively, you can get an in-text citation by clicking on the ellipsis and then copying the in-text citation into your document.  Tip If you need to cite an unsupported webpage, visit citations and paste the details manually to generate one.

Using Grammarly on a Mobile Device

Grammarly works on mobile and a tablet in two ways. Firstly, install the mobile app to access the full Grammarly editor. That app works best on a tablet. Secondly, install the Grammarly keyboard to check what you type in any app. 

Enable the Grammarly keyboard. To do this, go to your device’s settings and select “Keyboard.” From there, you can add the Grammarly keyboard and select it as your default keyboard. Look for the Grammarly icon inside wherever you write to activate it.

As you type, Grammarly highlights grammar or spelling errors and suggests corrections. Tap on any underlined error to review a list of suggested edits.

To accept a suggested correction, tap on it. If you don’t want to correct it, tap the “Ignore” button. When editing is finished, tap the “Done” button to save your changes or the “Cancel” button to discard them.

How to Customize Grammarly’s Settings to Meet Your Specific Needs

Grammarly offers several useful features if you want to tailor this grammar checker to how you write, who you write for, and where you publish your work.

Custom Dictionary

If you’re using specific words or terms that Grammarly flags as an error, add them to your custom dictionary by clicking on the Grammarly icon. You can also manage this custom dictionary via the admin panel on the Grammarly web app. Examples of words to add include technical terms or phrases related to your company or business. Fiction writers could add character names, spell, locations, etc. 

Writing Style

Grammarly writing style
Basically, use the settings here to adjust the functionality of Grammarly

The writing style section of Grammarly is for configuring the errors and suggestions Grammarly surfaces versus ignoring. Basically, use the settings here to adjust the functionality of Grammarly. It’s accessible via the admin panel or settings in the web app. If you find some suggestion types irrelevant, you can turn these off. For example, you can turn on on our off rules relating to:

  • The usage of the Oxford comma
  • Inserting a full stop between AM and PM, i.e., A.M., P.M.
  • Punctuation mistakes as per your preferred style
  • Spacing
  • Biased language
  • Word variations
  • Gender pronouns 

Grammarly regularly reported I needed to change my straight apostrophes to curly apostrophes. It was always the first error that popped up and was irrelevant to my publishing workflow. So, I turned this style setting off. 

If you’re unsure, leave everything turned on. On the other hand, if you need more advanced controls, Grammarly Business supports dedicated style guides. To learn more, read our Grammarly Business Review.

Does Grammarly Work?

Grammarly is a best-in-class grammar checker that fixes more issues than a traditional grammar or spell checker. Once you install the desktop app and browser plugin, it works across all popular apps, including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Pages, and Gmail. 

Many of its writing suggestions speed up the self-editing process and support publishing something more readable. It works well once you set it up for your preferred writing style, review its recommendations, and understand its context. For more advice, check out our list of Grammarly tips and tricks.

Can Grammarly Be Wrong?

Some writers and users delight in pointing out when Grammarly misses something or proposes a rewrite that doesn’t sound right. As great as Grammarly is, it’s a writing assistant. The reports are designed as aides to help you find and fix errors and improve the quality of your work. 

It’s up to you, the writer or professional, to decide if you deliberately want to break a grammar rule, use slang or if you need to use complicated words. Those questions depend on your writing style, audience, and where your work will appear. I use Grammarly regularly. But I also work with human editors and proofreaders for longer works.

Grammarly is easy to use, and the company regularly its the functionality of this tool. Try the free version on a piece of writing to figure it out. When ready, upgrade to the premium plan using our Grammarly deal and save 20%. You can use that for a once-off writing project or continue to use it indefinitely, as I do. 

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