Grammarly is Garbage, and Here's Why

Zoe Bee
24 Jan 202116:48

TLDRThis video critiques Grammarly, a popular writing tool, arguing that it oversimplifies the complexities of language and can misguide users. The host, an English professor, points out that Grammarly's advice is not always accurate and may ignore the nuances of rhetorical grammar. They argue that relying on such tools can prevent true learning and understanding of language, advocating for a more flexible approach to writing and grammar.


  • 📚 Grammarly is a tool designed to help with grammar, spelling, and style in writing, but it has limitations and can't replace a deep understanding of language.
  • 🤔 The concept of 'right' and 'wrong' in language is often subjective and can vary based on context, which Grammarly may not fully consider.
  • 👀 Grammarly may incorrectly flag certain stylistic choices as errors, such as the use of passive voice, which is not inherently wrong.
  • 📉 It can give a false sense of confidence to users who are not experts in English, potentially hindering their learning process.
  • 📝 Grammarly's suggestions for synonyms can sometimes ignore the nuanced differences in word meanings and connotations.
  • 🔄 Language is dynamic and evolves over time; relying solely on Grammarly's rules might not reflect this fluidity.
  • 🧐 The tool can provide some good advice, but it's essential for users to be able to discern between beneficial and misguided suggestions.
  • 📉 Grammarly's approach might not contribute to learning and understanding grammar, as it doesn't teach why certain choices are made.
  • 💬 The existence of Grammarly raises questions about the authority on what constitutes 'correct' language and whose variety is deemed standard.
  • 🎓 For those already confident in their writing skills, Grammarly can be a useful tool for polishing, but it's not a substitute for learning grammar.
  • 🌟 The speaker encourages embracing the fun and fluidity of language, rather than relying on prescriptive tools for validation.

Q & A

  • What is the main topic of the video 'Grammarly is Garbage, and Here's Why'?

    -The main topic of the video is to critique the language tool Grammarly, discussing its limitations and the potential issues with relying on it for writing assistance.

  • What does the speaker suggest about the complexity of grammar, writing, and language?

    -The speaker suggests that grammar, writing, and language are inherently complicated and that there is a wide range of interpretations about what is considered right or wrong in language use.

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

    -Rhetorical grammar refers to the idea that the purpose, audience, and content of writing can change how grammar is used within that writing, affecting the meaning conveyed.

  • Why does the speaker argue that Grammarly's advice is not always reliable?

    -The speaker argues that Grammarly's advice is not always reliable because it fails to take into account the nuances of rhetorical grammar, stylistic choices, and the context-dependent nature of language.

  • What is the issue with Grammarly's approach to passive voice according to the video?

    -The issue with Grammarly's approach to passive voice is that it defaults to preferring the active voice and may incorrectly flag passive voice sentences as incorrect, despite passive voice being a valid stylistic choice.

  • How does the video address the problem of 'wordiness' flagged by Grammarly?

    -The video points out that Grammarly's suggestions to reduce 'wordiness' may not always be appropriate, as verb tenses and word choices can carry different connotations and implications that change the meaning of a sentence.

  • What is the speaker's concern about Grammarly's impact on learning grammar?

    -The speaker is concerned that by relying on Grammarly for corrections, users may not learn the underlying reasons for grammar rules and mistakes, thus not truly understanding or being able to replicate correct grammar in the future.

  • What does the speaker suggest about the role of a writer beyond the text they produce?

    -The speaker suggests that being a writer involves more than just the text they produce; it includes their skill, knowledge, thought process, and passion, which are integral parts of their identity as a writer.

  • What is the speaker's stance on the existence of Grammarly and its implications for language?

    -The speaker questions the existence of Grammarly, arguing that it assumes there are 'right and wrong' answers to language questions, which overlooks the fluid and evolving nature of language and can potentially harm individuals by invalidating their dialects.

  • How does the video conclude about the use of Grammarly?

    -The video concludes that while Grammarly can be useful for those already confident in their writing skills to polish their work, it may not be beneficial for those who are still learning and could give them a false sense of confidence without truly understanding language nuances.

  • What advice does the speaker offer at the end of the video about language and writing?

    -The speaker advises that grammar rules are often arbitrary, language is constantly evolving, and focusing on 'correctness' can be misleading. They encourage viewers to embrace language as fun and to enjoy the writing process without being overly reliant on tools like Grammarly.



🤔 The Complexity of Grammar and Writing Tools

The video script starts by highlighting the polarizing nature of grammar, which some people love or hate. It discusses the inherent complexity of grammar, writing, and language, and introduces Grammarly as a tool designed to simplify these complexities. The script questions the effectiveness of Grammarly in improving writing and ponders the implications of relying on AI for determining 'right' and 'wrong' in language use. It also touches on the concept of 'rhetorical grammar,' which considers the context, audience, and purpose of writing, and how Grammarly may not account for these nuances.


📚 Critique of Grammarly's Functionality and Advice

This paragraph delves into the limitations of Grammarly by providing examples from the speaker's own writing where Grammarly's suggestions were not always beneficial or accurate. It discusses the difference in meaning conveyed by verb tenses and the importance of connotation in word choice, which Grammarly sometimes overlooks. The speaker, being an English professor and professional writer, is able to discern the quality of Grammarly's advice, but points out that many users may not have this ability and could be misled by incorrect suggestions. The paragraph emphasizes the potential harm in trusting an imperfect tool for writing guidance.


🧐 Reflections on the Nature of Good Writing and Language Fluidity

The speaker challenges the notion of 'good' writing, arguing that it is complex and context-dependent. They emphasize that being a good writer involves more than just the text produced—it encompasses skill, knowledge, thought process, and passion. The paragraph also critiques Grammarly's existence, which is based on the assumption of definitive 'right' and 'wrong' answers in language use. The speaker questions the authority behind these decisions and the potential harm of enforcing a 'correct' version of a language, especially considering the fluid and evolving nature of language and its varieties.


📝 Final Thoughts on Grammarly and Encouragement for Language Exploration

In the concluding paragraph, the speaker offers a balanced view of Grammarly, suggesting it can be useful for those already confident in their writing skills who seek a tool for polishing. However, they caution against its use by those who may not be able to discern good advice from bad, as it could lead to a false sense of confidence and hinder true learning about language. The speaker encourages viewers to embrace the fun and fluidity of language, and to be wary of programs that focus on rigid 'correctness.' They end with a call to action for feedback and support, offering additional engagement through social media and Patreon.




Grammar refers to the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. In the context of the video, grammar is portrayed as a complex and often contentious subject that influences how we communicate and understand language. The video script discusses how tools like Grammarly aim to enforce these rules, but also highlights the limitations of such programs in capturing the nuances of language.


Grammarly is an online writing tool that checks for grammar, spelling, punctuation, style, and tone. The video critiques Grammarly for its overemphasis on 'correctness' and for sometimes providing incorrect advice. It suggests that while Grammarly can be useful for polishing writing, it may not be suitable for those who are still learning the language or need to understand the reasoning behind grammatical rules.

💡Rhetorical Grammar

Rhetorical grammar is the idea that the purpose, audience, and content of writing can influence how grammar is used. The script uses this concept to argue that Grammarly fails to consider the context-dependent nature of language, which can lead to incorrect suggestions for changes that may alter the intended meaning of the text.

💡Active Voice

Active voice is a grammatical term referring to a sentence structure where the subject performs the action. The video points out that Grammarly tends to favor active voice, even when a passive construction might be more appropriate, thus not taking into account the stylistic choices of the writer.

💡Passive Voice

Passive voice is the opposite of active voice, where the subject receives the action. The script uses the example of cake being eaten to illustrate how passive voice can be a valid stylistic choice that Grammarly may incorrectly flag as incorrect.


Wordiness refers to the use of more words than necessary to convey a message. The video argues that Grammarly's suggestions for reducing wordiness can sometimes strip away important nuances or change the intended meaning of a sentence, such as altering the dynamic sense of an ongoing issue to a static one.


Synonyms are words that have the same or similar meanings. The script criticizes Grammarly for suggesting synonyms without considering their connotations, which can lead to changes in tone or meaning that the writer did not intend.

💡Language Evolution

Language evolution refers to the way in which languages change and develop over time. The video suggests that Grammarly's focus on static 'correctness' does not account for the dynamic nature of language and its evolution, potentially hindering the natural development of language.


Prescriptivism is the belief that there is a single 'correct' way to use language, as opposed to describing how people actually use it (descriptivism). The video criticizes Grammarly for its prescriptivist approach, arguing that it can be harmful and limiting to language users, especially those with non-standard dialects.


Tone in writing refers to the attitude or mood that the author conveys. The script mentions that Grammarly offers suggestions to change the tone of writing, but sometimes these suggestions may not align with the writer's intended tone, indicating a limitation in the tool's understanding of the writer's voice.


In the context of the video, confidence refers to the writer's assurance in their own writing abilities. The video suggests that while Grammarly might provide a false sense of confidence to some users, true writing skill and understanding come from learning and internalizing the rules of language, not just relying on an external tool.


Grammarly is criticized for its limitations in understanding the nuances of language and its impact on writing.

The video challenges the notion of 'right and wrong' in grammar and language use.

Grammarly's promise to make writing 'polished' and 'error-free' is questioned due to the complexities of language.

Rhetorical grammar is introduced as a concept that Grammarly fails to accommodate.

Examples given to illustrate how sentence structure can change meaning despite being grammatically correct.

Grammarly's preference for active voice and its implications for writing style are discussed.

The issue of Grammarly marking correct stylistic choices as incorrect is highlighted.

Grammarly's approach to 'wordiness' and its suggestions for verb tenses are critiqued.

The importance of connotation in word choice and Grammarly's oversight in this area is pointed out.

Grammarly's imperfections in simple tasks like spelling are demonstrated.

The video argues that Grammarly's advice can be misleading for those who are not proficient in English.

The potential harm of relying on Grammarly for learning grammar is explored.

Grammarly's claim to help build writing skills is contested based on the video's analysis.

The video questions the authority and assumptions behind Grammarly's definition of 'correct' language.

The impact of Grammarly on the evolution of language and its potential to stifle change is discussed.

The video concludes that Grammarly may be more harmful than beneficial for non-experts in English.

An alternative view is offered, suggesting that Grammarly can be useful for those already proficient in writing.

The video encourages viewers to embrace the fun and fluidity of language rather than relying on prescriptive tools.