200 Words a Day Tools

Review: LanguageTool, an alternative to Grammarly

When I wrote my first post on 200wordsaday.com, I realized that a grammar and spell checking tool would be really helpful in speeding up the editing process and improving my non-native English writing skills at the same time.

The Top Dog: Grammarly

Grammarly has been heavily advertised all over the web recently – at least in ads that I was targeted with. Its promise sounds really appealing: Grammarly instantly checks all your written input in the browser and gives you both spelling and stylistic tips on your writing. The user interface looks neat, the ads are well done, what am I waiting for?

The downsides: Grammarly sends all your writing to US based servers – what a privacy nightmare. And – Grammarly doesn’t speak my native language, German. Well, no thanks.

The Contender: LanguageTool

Then I found an alternative: LanguageTool – an open source tool, made by a German company, publicly maintained on Github. And as far as I can see, LanguageTool sure can compete with Grammarly.

LanguageTool can be used in 25 languages and automatically detects the language that you are writing in, so no manual switching. It has a free version that is pretty comprehensive, and a premium version with even more features and checks.

The aptly named tool gives you spelling and stylistic tips as well – but from my experience the past days, most suggestions deal with spelling. I could use more vocabulary suggestions, though.

While you can use it locally and offline, the standard configuration does send your writing to LanguageTool servers. But at least, it’s GDPR territory over here…

I’m using the Firefox extension and got used to the tool really fast, and it’s working just fine while being really unobtrusive. It works in all you favorite services: in Gmail, in Twitter as well as every contact form. There even are extensions for LibreOffice and Microsoft Office (which I haven’t tried yet, though).

The Winner Is…

LanguageTool, easy.

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