Human editor vs Grammarly, which is best at proofreading

This week has been odd! My mastering engineer friend lost his first job to an AI called LANDR. Meanwhile, my brother, who integrates voice and data network systems into businesses, told me that demand is rising for AI bots to replace call centre staff. We all know it's coming, but these two incidents in one week really got me thinking about my own profession. Just how safe are human editors?

My first response was to check if Grammarly was an AI, and I found out that it is indeed powered by AI. So, I thought I'd better research this a little further to see how far AI has come, and if I need to consider my future as an editor any time soon.

Using Grammarly for proofreading clauses

The usage of "which" and "that" is often a problem area in writing that is submitted to our services, so I came up with the following incorrect sentence:

"Its the house which the girl lives in."

The results were very interesting as Grammarly correctly suggested that I changed "Its" to  "It's". However, the "which" in the sentence appeared to confuse it, as it suggested that I replace "house" with "house in"; therefore making the sentence read: "It's the house in which the girl lives in."

The grammatically correct version of the sentence that I had in mind was "It's the house that the girl lives in." It is a defining clause that adds meaning to the sentence by adding more information about the house.

Was Grammarly wrong? Well, not exactly, but it did change an incorrect sentence into an incredibly awkward sentence. Perhaps the algorithm isn't able to think critically about the type of clause it is dealing with yet? I'm really not able to shed any light on that, but I can say that you shouldn't take its clause identification as gospel just yet.

Proofreading with Grammarly for capitalised words mid-sentence

This is a common mistake as writers are often blind to these tiny mistakes as they check their work, so it's often a critical thing to focus on. Grammarly didn't detect any of the following errors:
Kevin ate his Apple before he arrived at school.
Kevin ate his apple before he Arrived at school.
Kevin Ate his apple before he Arrived at school.

Is Grammarly rubbish? No, absolutely not!

It's important to recognise that it's a tool to help writers to develop their writing. It's up to the writer to choose whether to follow its advice, and varying styles across languages and style guides will always conflict with each other.
Also, if you're required to follow a specific style guide (which will affect what dictionary you use, how and when to use certain punctuation and more), it's not going to be able to help you with that, especially if you are writing for a publication that has a house style that varies from available published style guides (e.g., Associated Press).

Are human editors better than Grammarly?

Based on this quick experiment, yes! But, there is nothing wrong with using Grammarly to improve your writing as you go along. AI is progressing all of the time. I have no doubt that Grammarly will continue to improve, but I'm confident that AI will not be smart enough to fully replace a good editor when it comes to the vast diversities in English writing. I shall certainly keep an eye on its development as my career progresses though.

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