What is sexier than the sound of the French language?
Flawless French grammar.
But even the most seasoned French learners and native French speakers are not flawless all the time. We all make mistakes!
The good news is, French grammar checkers are here to assist you.
You may think the capabilities of automated checkers are so limited that there is simply no point in bothering.
However, the best ones can actually be really handy: These checkers will flag things like gender errors, failure to use the subjunctive or article issues (like using des instead of de).
And they will also check your spelling, of course.
Plus, if you can wait a little longer, there are sites where human beings are willing to graciously fill the role of French grammar checker.
For the purposes of this article, I put all of the major French grammar checker options to the test, as well as a popular site where human native speakers correct each other’s texts.
My test text was a 450-word description of my apartment for Airbnb; I translated it into French, intentionally including mistakes that are common for beginning and for advanced students of the language, as well as some mistakes common for un-schooled speakers who “pick up” French by speaking it.
And who am I kidding, I also made some nice, fat grammatical errors of the unintentional sort.
For comparison, I submitted my text to a professional, native-speaking French writer and translator who happens to be a friend.
Each grammar checker had its merits as well as flaws. Most of them have free options for French learners.
In this post, we will look at only the absolute best of the best checkers, whom they are best for and how to use them.
3 Benefits of Using a French Grammar Checker Tool
Why have perfect French grammar? you ask.
Well, the benefit is more than just the satisfaction of knowing your French grammar is flawless. There are actually tangible positives to having your grammar checked by a French grammar tool, many of which go beyond your personal pride.
In fact, these may have more to do with how others perceive you and your level of French. Check them out!
- You can impress native French speakers. What is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of learning French? It is using the language in front of real native French speakers, of course. Making a mistake can be distracting not only to you but also to who you are corresponding with. And imagine the dread if the native French speaker switches to English?
A French grammar checker is a great way to make sure your grammar is absolutely perfect when sending something off to a native French speaker. Ideally, this happens in writing as in a text message, email or even long-form letter. There are benefits to your speaking as well, though. By seeing your grammar errors corrected in writing, you are less likely to make them while speaking, ensuring that even your oral communication with native speakers is great.
- You can express your ideas with more accuracy and eloquence. It is no surprise that having perfect French grammar just adds a little je ne sais quoi (I do not know what) to your usage. A French grammar checker can help you ensure that you are saying exactly what you mean, and the added benefit is that your French will come across smoother and more elegant.
- They can help advance your education or your career. You might already know this, but oftentimes grammar errors can lead to a bad mark on a paper or even an overlooked job application. That means that perfect French grammar could be important to completing education in the French language and even securing your dream French job. Having a French grammar checker look over your work in advance could make all the difference in your outcomes.
Check My French! The 11 Best French Grammar Checkers
If you are still building your grammar knowledge, you can always rely on FluentU for extra help.
These videos are extremely useful for language basics, laying down the foundations of grammar through the lens of a native speaker. The more time you spend on the app, the more naturally the language structures will come to you, and the easier it will be to write in French.
And to check your writing, you have these 11 resources to refer to.
Have you ever asked yourself, “does Grammarly check French?”
Well, the short answer to that is “no”: Grammarly is solely an English-based grammar checker. Then what is the French version of Grammarly? you may ask. That is easy: it is WhiteSmoke.
Using the “Multi-Lingual Dictionary for Writer” plugin, you can turn WhiteSmoke into the French grammar checker that basically does what Grammarly does for English. Here are its main features:
- It highlighted different errors in different colors for clarity. Grammar errors are shown in green, spelling errors are shown in red, and punctuation and style errors are in blue. Above each error, the correction is in italics to make it clear where the error is and how it should actually be. In the side panel, there is then a detailed dictionary explanation for each error.
- It corrected a wide scope of grammar errors including incomplete sentences, subject and verb agreement and capitalization issues.
- It is available as a web application for online word processors and as a downloadable program for offline word processors. This makes it a very versatile tool, especially as our current work and school landscapes become increasingly more virtual.
- It has a feature for French that allows you to input English and get a flawless French translation. While I do not recommend doing this as the primary purpose of WhiteSmoke, it is handy for French learners who are still getting the hang of the French language and want to make sure they get it just right.
- There is no free version. The online version and the “premium” version that gets downloaded to your computer comes at a monthly subscription cost. The cost is cheaper when you buy a yearly or 3-year plan.
This website is pretty plain and the tool is not as well-known as the others, so I was surprised that it won out overall in terms of thoroughness of corrections, ease of use of the interface and clarity of the grammar explanations.
Here is what you should know about Scribens:
- It flagged gender problems throughout the text, including where an adjective was not immediately adjacent to the noun it was modifying. For example, it corrected “le chambre principal est petit” to “la chambre principale est petite” (the master bedroom is small); other checkers often failed to catch petit.
- It did not erroneously flag too many proper nouns, like Barcelone (Barcelona), Picasso and Gaudí, which some checkers did.
- It corrected some more complex issues, like the use of the subjunctive, and even had a convenient drop-down box with the corrected subjunctive for you to click on to replace your own silly text. Most others did not offer features for such complex types of correction.
- A great feature for learners and grammar nerds is that it not only provides that drop-down box with the corrected word that you can click on, but also a short grammar explanation within the box, and a link to the règle générale (general rule), a page that provides even more explanation and—important for learners—a few examples.
- The free version allows you to paste quite a bit of text into a box and check it immediately on the page. There is a premium version for €39.90 that allows you unlimited text and has plugins for browser windows and desktop word processing programs.
Reverso is perhaps the best known as a translator, specializing in translations between French and other languages, such as English.
It also has a “spell checker” tool for French, and it claims to check both spelling and grammar errors in French texts.
When I copied and pasted my own, this is what I found out:
- The tool can check up to 450 characters. This is not a lot if you want to do a full essay or longer written piece. There is a work-around, though: simply check the grammar one section at a time.
- It caught some of the errors. It pointed out and corrected errors like gender agreement between articles and nouns, but it missed more nuanced rules such as beaucoup de pièce when it should be beaucoup de pièces (a lot of rooms). Unfortunately, one of the corrections was wrong: the error was il a fais construire with the desired correction il a fait construire (he also made). Instead, Reverso corrected it to il a faits construisent.
- Reverso did not correct the subjunctive error. That was a deliberate error on my part, and Reverso did not recognize it should be used.
- This program is free, and it also connects to many other resources available through the Reverso site. For example, you can easily navigate to dictionary definitions of French words, a feature that finds synonyms, a French conjugator and a grammar reference.
This is the best choice for those who are starting out with French and want to have their grammar explanations and the interface in English.
It allows you to check a smaller block of text in one go, and did not flag quite as many true mistakes as Scribens, but may still be more useful for you depending on your level and preferences.
Here is what you should know about BonPatron:
- The tool did not catch problems with the gender of adjectives like principale and petite in the context above, but still caught problems with the gender of articles.
- It caught some subjunctive issues and other more complex grammar issues.
- It does not have a drop-down menu that allows you to select the correction; you have to type it yourself. Some learners may find this beneficial, though.
- The grammar explanations in English were somewhat generalized but quite clear. This is not going to tell you the correct answer necessarily. Rather, it gives you general grammar advice such as , for example, you need a feminine article of some sort in front of a feminine noun.
- There is a check box to indicate if you are writing in the first-person feminine, so that the tool will check the text accordingly. I tested this, and it seems to work fine.
- At the bottom of the page, your errors are linked to pages with much longer grammar descriptions in English of French grammar rules that you have violated.
After checking out Reverso, I was a little wary of French grammar checkers that offered grammar checking for multiple languages in addition to French.
While LanguageTool was not perfect, it was definitely an improvement of Reverso. Here is why:
- LanguageTool is not limited by a character count. It is available as a free browser extension so that users can get grammar corrections of their writing both on the website and on another website such as an online word processor. Longer texts do require free sign up, though.
- It caught most of the errors. Even though it missed the beaucoup de pièce in lieu of beaucoup de pièces (a lot of rooms) error again, it caught all the subject-verb, article-noun and adjective agreement errors. It even found the subjunctive error and explained why it was an error.
- Even though LanguageTool pointed out most errors, it did not necessarily correct them for me. Instead, it simply told me “we think this is an error,” gave me a short explanation of why (in French) and then it listed some possible corrections that I could choose depending on what I thought was best. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could create more work for the user if they do not have time to look into the correction themselves.
- One annoying thing was that LanguageTool pointed out that I had “one more advanced issue” in addition to the errors it already listed. When I clicked on the link, it took me to the upgrade screen and refused to show me the “advanced issue” until I paid.
FrenchCorrector has a pretty simple and easy-to-use interface, so the hope is that we will get a simple and to-the-point French grammar check.
Here are the highlights and lowlights I found:
- FrenchCorrector is free, and it caught most of the errors in the text I used. This included the more nuanced errors as well as the subjunctive error.
- Like LanguageTool, FrenchCorrector did not necessarily correct anything. It simply told me there was an error, gave me a reason why in French, and then it suggested how I could fix the error. In the explanation box, there was an option to click on the correction, though. This would replace the supposed error with the correction of your choosing.
- Underneath the input box, there was an option to get autocorrect. I tried selecting this feature, hoping that FrenchCorrector would then automatically correct all my errors. Instead, it just gave me an additional list of all the errors it found and claimed to have autocorrected them.
- In fairness, on FrenchCorrector’s About page it very explicitly states that its technology does not replace a real-life professional proofreader. That means that the program will pick up basic spelling and grammar errors, but more advanced ones may slip through. The transparency was quite refreshing.
SEOMagnifier is a little bit of a case of déjà vu. While it did the job, I could not help feeling like I had used this French grammar checker before.
Here are my thoughts:
- SEOMagnifier is free to use. Its online interface is easy to navigate: simply copy and paste your text to get French grammar corrections. There is also a feature to upload entire documents in supported .doc, .docx and .txt extensions. This is handy for longer texts.
- I noticed SEOMagnifier found almost the exact same errors as LanguageTool and FrenchCorrector, and it also missed the exact same errors as these two French grammar checkers. It may be a coincidence, but it also made me wonder if these three websites are all simple mirrors of each other. My suspicion deepened when I looked into SEOMagnifier as a website: they specialize in SEO, not French.
- Aside from the potential outsourcing, SEOMagnifier does an okay job. It found most of the errors in my text, even the subjunctive one, and like the other websites it resembles, it gave me an explanation of the error as well as a list of possible corrections.
- The website claims that its algorithm is constantly improving as more people use the French grammar checker to edit their work. While that could explain the similarity it has with other French grammar checkers, it could also lead to more accuracy down the road.
I was pleasantly surprised when I came across Grammalecte.
It is an open-source (read: free) French grammar checker that is downloaded as a Google Chrome extension.
As such, you can use it to check the French writing you do in an online word processor such as Google Docs, but there is also an input feature in the program’s interface where you can copy and paste work.
Let’s check out if this open-source Chrome extension holds up to the hype:
- Out of all the French grammar checkers I tried, Grammalecte caught the most errors—even ones I did not know I had. Do not get me wrong, it did miss one, but it was the beaucoup de pièces error, and I am beginning to wonder about this French grammar rule.
- Flagged errors in Grammalecte are color-coded, and the explanations of errors are quite in-depth. Like other French grammar checkers, it does not necessarily make the correction for you, but it is one of the more helpful checkers in terms of giving you a real suggestion.
- Aside from its accuracy in catching French grammar mistakes, Grammalecte is also the most well-rounded French grammar checker. The extension includes many additional features such as a dictionary, verb conjugator, grammar reference and even a formateur de texte (text formatter) that does an in-depth check of French punctuation.
- Everything happens in-house at Grammalecte. This means that your text does not get sent to an external server or website like some other French grammar checkers do. This could be a benefit for users particularly worried about the accuracy or online data privacy.
Frenchy is a French grammar checker that is actually an app for your phone. As of April 2021, it is available for free download for Android users. There is a paid version of the app, but here are my thoughts about the free version:
- The fact that this app is completely mobile is fantastic, but the quality leaves much to be desired. Even though most other French grammar checkers missed a few errors here and there—especially the subjunctive one—Frenchy only flagged two errors in my entire text. This is definitely a little worrisome for users looking for a high-quality French grammar checker.
- Similar to other French grammar checkers on our list, Frenchy does not automatically correct anything. It simply puts a potential error in red and then lists a couple of different corrections that the user can choose from. There is little explanation of the error or the options, though. This places much of the burden on the user to figure out the correct way to write something.
- In addition to a grammar checker, Frenchy offers a verb conjugator complete with a pronunciation guide. This is pretty handy and quite unexpected from this app.
- While the worst part of this app is that it arguably does not pick up enough errors, another annoying feature is the number of ads. With almost every click within the app, there is an ad displayed—and oftentimes, these ads do not seem relevant to French learners at all. It is unclear if these ads go away in the paid version, but they definitely slowed down the French grammar check process.
Who knew that a French grammar checker was hiding right under my nose this whole time?
I have had Microsoft Word on my computer since, well… since I have had a computer!
Simply change the language to French and voilà (here it is): a French grammar checker! But does it live up to Microsoft Word’s reputation?
Let’s find out:
- Microsoft Word is middle-of-the-road. While it did pick up some of the more obvious errors, it completely missed nuanced and advanced French grammar errors, including the intentional subjunctive error in my text.
- For the errors it did catch, it offered a brief explanation in French of why something was incorrect, and then listed options for the correction. Oftentimes, there was only one option listed, which was nice. This removes some of the responsibility on the user for choosing a correction, assuming the user is willing to trust Microsoft Word.
- In true Microsoft Word fashion, this “French grammar checker” is obviously more than just a grammar checker. Aside from its word processing and formatting power, it also offers a thesaurus under the “synonyms” option of the right-click.
- I remember a time when Microsoft Word (part of Microsoft Office) came standard with most computers, but alas, I fear that those days have come and gone. Instead, a hefty one-time purchase price is required for access to the program. Alternatively, you can pay a monthly subscription fee for Microsoft 365, a group of Microsoft’s best-known programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint packaged together as cloud-based applications.
The Human Grammar Checkers at Lang-8
There are a lot of issues with French that no automatic grammar checker is going to catch and make clear to you, especially if you are not a native speaker.
Written French can be a vast horror, and if you happen to need a lot of guidance with your writing, using any automatic grammar checker can be like putting a Band-Aid over a severed limb.
That is why it is great to know about Lang-8, a resource that lets you get your writing corrected by native speakers.
I submitted the same text for correction on Lang-8, and then for karma (and for the site’s point system) corrected some other users’ texts in English. About 24 hours later, I received my correction.
The writer who corrected my text on Lang-8 changed many of my phrasings; some because they were wrong, but also a lot just because she could come up with words that sounded better, or were more standard in a given context.
For example, I wanted to say that there were both “tripots et restaurants chics” (dive restaurants and fancy places) in my lively neighborhood. Tripots apparently sounds awful, though, so she reformulated my phrase to “restaurants du plus populaire à l’ultra-chic.”
There are also cultural issues to consider in cross-cultural writing that, for now, no grammar checker is likely to master. “You should not call the bedroom petite at all,” she said. “By Parisian standards, it is actually quite large! No French person will be disappointed.”
So you may not be lucky enough to have a French writer friend nearby to check your text, but you can get always get native speakers to correct it at Lang-8.
The Lang-8 correction was not quite as complete as my friend’s, but absolutely far more complete than any of the automatic grammar checkers.
While you never know how well the native speakers on the site know their own language (French is a challenge even for the French), one advantage is that several people may eventually correct your text, so you get various perspectives on what is correct or the best phrasing.
Lang-8 has a social feature that allows you to friend other users and build a more personal connection so that you can develop relationships and people to count on as you move forward with your writing. It is not uncommon to make appointments with other users on Skype to talk through texts, for example.
With the tools above, you should be better able to tackle the correction of any French text that you might produce, whether it is for the pleasure of writing, improving your language skills or more concrete tasks like convincing traveling Francophones to rent out your “normal”-sized room.
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Mose Hayward blogs about languages, drinks, and adventures in France and around the world at TipsyPilgrim.com.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.