Bad Advice from Grammarly

GrammarlyAfter clicking "Skip Video" about a dozen times on YouTube, I finally watched the Grammarly ad and tried the product. In a 15-page document, the tool identified nine "critical issues," only two of which were errors, and I would hardly call them "critical": a missing serial comma (from a CNN quote) and an unnecessarily hyphenated word.

The other seven were not mistakes; if I make the recommended corrections, I will have far more grammatical problems than when I started.

The original document is a case study, "SeaWorld Responds to the Movie Blackfish."

Here are the items marked as errors:

My Original Version Grammarly's Correction My Comment
SeaWorld, a theme-park operator Possibly confused word. Did you mean theme park? No, I meant to hyphenate the compound adjective.
several other groups cancelled performances Cancelled is British spelling. Technically correct, but either spelling is acceptable in the United States.
debate over orcas continues Change to the plural form, continue. No, continues follows debate, not orcas, which is part of a prepositional phrase.
The November 6, 2013, article Article usage (The) is incorrect. No, it's not: "The...article..."
Nowhere does the article mention SeaWorld's response. Consider replacing the period with a question mark.  No, it's a statement, not a question.
The revenue up-tick may have been Did you mean uptick? OK! You got me. Uptick is acceptable without the hyphen.
Dawn Brancheau's family, friends and colleagues Insert a comma.  This is a quotation from CNN, and yes, I should add the serial comma after friends.
literally millions of safe interactions Change to million because it's modifying a noun. No, this is a tweet quotation, and it is correct as is. 
Also in February, SeaWorld sponsored ads on Facebook Add a hyphen: SeaWorld-sponsored ads. No, sponsor is a verb here, not a noun modified by SeaWorld-sponsored.

In addition to these markings, Grammarly says I have 38 "advanced issues" that I can see if I pay for an upgrade. The upgrade also gives me access to the plagiarism checker, which sounds like a teacher's nightmare: if students change a few words, will they circumvent tools like Turnitin?

Discussion Starters:

  • After reading this, would you use or recommend Grammarly? It could be useful for international students, but I worry that it gives bad advice.
  • Try the product on one of your own documents. How does it work for you?