What if Hemingway used Grammarly?
Grammarly Says I’m a Bit Bland
For those that don’t know, Grammarly is an app that detects grammar and spelling errors. It’s free unless you opt to pay for the premium service. Grammarly will give you a rating on your engagement style without charge, but won’t tell you how to improve it, unless you buy the premium service.
And this is where the trouble began for me. With Grammarly’s engagement rating of my work. I am only using the free service, I get a rating on my engagement style, but can’t access the suggestions.
Seriously Grammarly, your obsession with Oxford commas is bordering on the neurotic. I know we should all be using Oxford commas, but there’s no need to go on about it as much as you do.
I appreciate the heads up about replacing “prior to” with “before”. You’re right, that does sound better. But then you had to get personal about my writing style. Isn’t that subjective anyway, Grammarly?
You reported that my engagement style is, “a bit bland” without any explanation. You want me to pay a monthly fee to find out why I’m so bland. I know what you’re doing Grammarly and I’m not falling for it. I’ll work on my blandness all on my own.
Oh, but I want to know what you thought was bland! Can a computer algorithm give me insight on how to be a better writer?
Now I am curious. What does Grammarly think of the greatest writers? For example, how would Grammarly rate Ernest Hemingway?
I decided to conduct a little experiment. I copied an excerpt from Hemingway’s, “The Old Man and the Sea” into Grammarly.
Then, while the old man was clearing the lines and preparing the harpoon, the male fish jumped high into the air beside the boat to see where the female was and then went down deep, his lavender wings, that were his pectoral fins, spread wide and all his wide lavender stripes showing. He was beautiful, the old man remembered, and he had stayed.
To my great surprise, Grammarly said the engagement was “a bit bland.”
My curiosity piqued, I tried another excerpt from another author. Here is the opening paragraph of F. Scott Fitgerald’s, “Tender is the Night.”
On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people; a decade ago it was almost deserted after its English clientele went north in April. Now, many bungalows cluster near it, but when this story begins only the cupolas of a dozen old villas rotted like water lilies among the massed pines between Gausse’s Hôtel des Étrangers and Cannes, five miles away.
Can you guess it, the famous literary genius, F. Scott Fitzgerald is also rated “a bit bland” by Grammarly.
For the sake of this experiment, I decided I should try one more. Maybe a poem would fare differently. Here is a well-known one from Robert Frost, “Fire and Ice.”
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Finally, Grammarly likes this one. It is “very engaging.” It even has an overall score of 100, the likes of which has my Grammarly account has never seen before.
So there you have it, my very unscientific experiment. Two out of three famous authors rated bland by Grammarly. I for one, am very certain that these results mean absolutely nothing.
What I do know is that I’m not about to give up Grammarly. I am unable to remember Oxford commas to save my life. And it is useful for other basic grammar issues. It can save you from the embarrassment of glaring mistakes.
I’m not, however, convinced of Grammarly’s rating on writing styles. At least I’m not going to sweat it anymore when it tells me I’m a bit bland.