Another AI Grammar Checker

I recently learned about another online grammar checker, ProWritingAid. I was curious as to how it compared to Grammarly, so I’ve been using the free versions of both for the last several chapters of my upcoming book. They both catch basic punctuation errors, extra spaces, misspelled words, and point out unnecessary wordiness. But there are also differences.

Grammarly dings me a lot on tautologies. In writing, a tautology is a phrase that uses two words which mean the same thing. For example: his own, widow woman, red color. In each example, one of the words in the phrase is redundant: own, woman, and color don’t explain anything and don’t add any new information.

Tautologies are easy to correct, but sometimes I’m using them for added emphasis. Such as when I’m trying to point out an idea or concept that had some significance to us. For example, the idea of Dan purchasing a tractor trailer to become “his own boss.” I think that packs a little more punch than either becoming “his boss” or “his own.” (Which begs the question, his own what?)

ProWritingAid ignores tautologies, but constantly points out my frequent use of passive rather than active verb construction. In active voice, the subject performs the action. In passive voice, the subject receives the action. Here’s an example from my writing: I wrote, “the old chimney was removed” (passive voice). Active voice would be, “he removed the old chimney.”

Apparently, passive voice is extremely annoying to some readers, hence the suggestions to change. I understand that, but since I’ve just picked this up in the last chapters, I think I’ll just have to leave most of it this go-round, especially since I’m not sure how to write active voice in past tense. I’ll have to research that in the future.

The thing that I dislike about both programs is being given a percentage grade and compared to other writers. That does not help me. That does not motivate me. I don’t want my writing to be on par with others, I want it to stand out with unique appeal. Neither program has impressed me on that score. I want my writing to be the best it can be, but I don’t want to sound like everyone else. If everyone accepted all of the recommended changes, then everyone would sound the same. No, thank you.

Another problem with grading my writing is when a chapter contains a quotes from other works. The quotes are from published books and have already been edited by a human. Yet AI wants to correct quotes and count those “errors” toward my writing “score.” The lesson learned here is not to include the quotes when I paste in the text to be proofread.

Actually, working with AI is similar to working with human editors. Each brings their own perspective to the table, and different editors focus on different things. Because I write non-fiction for a niche audience, I understand that the person doing the editing may or may not understand how I’m using particular words. I use the language of homesteaders, although I always take care to define unfamiliar terms for readers without a homesteading background. This has been why having last-say in my writing is important to me. I don’t want the meaning of my writing changed because the phrases and idioms aren’t understood.

Of the two AI grammar programs, I’ve had to learn how to use them. I’ve had to drop the tendency to feel like a scolded school child for low scores and take control for myself. It’s my writing, so I’m free to accept or reject their suggestions, and never mind what everyone else is doing. I am trying to do this with great care because I sincerely want to improve my writing. I just don’t want to lose my own voice, my own style, my own personality.

There. Three tautologies in a row, and I feel pretty good about it.

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4 Responses to Another AI Grammar Checker

  1. Rain Frances says:

    Leigh, I LOVE your tautologies! I’m a total tautologist lol…I can really relate to what you wrote in this post – not in the sense of writing, but in the sense of my art. I have oodles of books about art theory and the “proper” way to compost a sketch and turn it into a so-called masterpiece. Sure, I could follow the rules to the T, but then I feel like I lose myself, my own style and my creativity to a certain point. The classes I’m taking now push the idea to learn the technique to improve YOUR OWN STYLE (tautology), not to follow what art students at university do.

    I like your writing! I never thought that passive writing was annoying to people, in fact, I never even think about writing styles when I read. I guess I prefer to read something as though it’s being spoken to me if that makes sense. Blog style of writing I suppose!

    I agree though, you should listen to the school teacher scolding you for your textbook grammatical “errors” with a grain of salt. Take what you feel is important to improve your writing then eff the rest lol…I wonder what your program would do if you wrote THAT! 😉

    • Leigh says:

      Rain, I love that this made sense to you! lol Your feed back about my writing is very encouraging!

      It’s so true that we each have to find our own style. The challenge seems to be in keeping it while improving our craft.

  2. Rain Frances says:

    LOL…I just re-read my comment, instead of “compose a sketch” I wrote “compost”…talk about a homesteader’s vocabulary!!

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