Grammar troubles got you down?
¡No llores más! (Don’t cry anymore!)
Wait, or is it ¡No lloras más!? Arrrgh!
For the record, the first is correct, as you can verify by Googling Spanish versions of the song.
If you want to quickly check a non-lyrical Spanish phrase, however, there are some major free online grammar checkers that can help you out.
I recently put all of these online grammar checkers to the test.
Automated grammar checkers are obviously not ever going to replace the advice and corrections of a native speaker.
None succeeded in catching no lloras más, for example (though to be fair, that would require the algorithm to understand that this is a command in Spanish, and not a statement of fact).
But automated checkers can still be a very useful tool, as long as you understand how they operate and don’t rely on them too heavily. You can run your texts through them quickly, and they may save you from a few errors.
There’s also a major site where human native speakers correct each other’s texts (which we’ll discuss later in this post).
And all of the automated grammar checkers have integrated spellchecking, too, which definitely does work well.
To test the Spanish grammar checkers, I wrote a 450-word text: a translation into Spanish of a description of my apartment on Airbnb.
I intentionally included mistakes that are common for both beginning and advanced students of Spanish, as well as for the un-schooled who just picked up the language.
And, I’m sorry to report, I made some grammar flubs of my own, unintentionally.
I compared the websites’ results to corrections of my text by a friend who is a professional book editor in Barcelona (she returned the favor by making me correct some of her marketing materials in English).
I also asked some friends for help wherever I wanted to test the grammar checker’s regional knowledge.
In this post, we’ll look at the best free Spanish grammar checkers you can find online and who they’re best for. We’ll also look at what their strengths and limitations are, so that you can get the most out of them as you continue to perfect your Spanish writing.
Check My Spanish! The 5 Best Spanish Grammar Checkers Online
This is the automatic grammar checker that I’d recommend for most Spanish learners, as long as you have at least a fair understanding of grammar terms in Spanish, which is the language of the explanations.
Here’s what you should know about this tool:
- The integrated spellchecker is decent, although you should be aware that it may mistakenly flag some words and proper nouns. Among the words that it unnecessarily flagged for me were Picasso, WC and sobreático (a term for an “attic above the attic” used in Spain; the very top floor).
- Another issue to be aware of with the spellchecker is that if you have a spelling mistake in a sentence, this can confuse the grammar check.
For example, if you write una sofa, the site will correctly suggest sofá instead, but it won’t tell you that una sofá is still wrong unless you hit the “check text” button again after fixing your spelling error. So you just need to make sure you do this. In this case, you’ll then be told that there’s a gender disagreement: It should be un sofá (a sofa).
- This checker tends to correctly flag gender issues with articles (un, una, etc.), which is great as these are common mistakes for Spanish learners at all levels.
These are labeled as a posible falta de concordancia de género (possible lack of gender agreement), but it’s up to you to figure out what the issue is, exactly—you can look your noun up at WordReference.com if you don’t spot the error immediately.
- It doesn’t seem to catch errors of agreement between adjectives and nouns. Type in unos mujeres lindos and it will tell you that unos is wrong, but not flag lindos. (It should be unas mujeres lindas, or “some beautiful women.”)
- You also should be prepared to catch your own failings with prepositions. I wrote está a media hora a la Sagrada Familia and it didn’t make a peep. It should be está a media hora de la Sagrada Familia (it’s a half-hour from the Sagrada Familia).
While this grammar checker erroneously flagged more issues and made more suggestions that were incorrect than LanguageTool, it did correctly flag some issues that LanguageTool missed, and so may be best for checking certain areas of grammar.
Another advantage is that its explanations are available in English, which could make this a more useful tool for some learners. (This option is available automatically if you’re in an English-speaking country; if you’re living or studying in a Spanish-speaking country, you’ll have to change the language by scrolling down to the very bottom right and clicking on the teeny English button.)
Here’s what you should know about SpanishChecker:
- The spellchecker is also decent, though it erroneously flagged more words than LanguageTool.
- It points out some gender disagreement issues with articles, and it attempts to do the same with adjectives. Just be aware that it often has trouble identifying which adjective goes with which noun, making its corrections in this area a bit haphazard.
- It likes to suggest placing the adjective after the noun, although for stylistic reasons you may sometimes want to have it in front.
It may also erroneously suggest an adjective in place of an adverb in that position; for example, it told me to write una cocina buena equipada instead of una cocina bien equipada (a well-equipped kitchen), which was already correct.
- It helpfully points out some minor mistakes that English speakers might make, like placing a comma before the y (and) in a list of three things.
- You should be ready to use your own judgment on suggestions it makes for word order and word choice in some situations. For example, it suggested cuatro (four) instead of cuarto when I was talking about a room.
My Stilus offers some cool features for Spanish grammar checking. It checks not just grammar, but spelling as well as style. So if you’ve got some written material and want to be sure it’s on track for all three points, this is a slick site to use.
The resource was a breeze to use. I just did a quick copy and paste and received instant feedback. It caught most of my intentional mistakes, including several misspelled words. However, I also tried finding a sample paragraph with errors and it had a bit more trouble with these. I’ll break down my findings, and the program’s features, below.
- My Stilus actually recognizes the variants in the Spanish language. It sees if you’re using the vocabulary from Central American Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Caribbean Spanish and four other Spanish variations.
This means that if you submit a piece written with predominantly Cuban Spanish idioms and vocabulary, it recognizes those words and checks accordingly. This is very beneficial for those who speak and write one more than another.
A friend speaks Mexican Spanish, so he writes using vocabulary common in Mexico. I uploaded a bit of his writing and the checker had no issues with recognizing the slangy word he inserted.
- Ease of use is helpful. The process is smooth and streamlined, and checking a couple of writing samples took no time at all.
- This grammar checker has interactive proofreading, which is a great feature. When a need for a correction is detected, the site offers suggestions for corrections. This provides the opportunity to see what’s wrong and to choose from correction options—rather than having mistakes corrected automatically.
- You can customize what and how the program checks in your text, choosing from a wide variety of what can be checked, language variants (as mentioned above) and even types of dictionaries (for more specialized language).
- The checker easily picks up on most grammar concepts, like subject-verb agreement (even when the subject and verb are separated by an aside between commas). At the same time, it misses some of the more nuanced issues, like completely overlooking a misuse of soy/estoy in estoy profesora de español (it should be soy profesora de español — I am a professor of Spanish).
- The program had some trouble differentiating between articles and prepositions. For example, I typed preparo la desayuno and it suggested that I correct it to preparo al desayuno, assuming I’d made a typo rather than misgendering the word desayuno. (It should be preparo el desayuno — I prepare breakfast.) It also misses incorrect preposition use quite often.
- This isn’t a completely free resource so for some learners the price might be an issue. There are a few different plans and prices available, as well as a free capped trial. Currently, the free trial allows you to check 25k words but this number changes often depending on what promotions are running when you visit.
Plagly is a site that many of you might already be familiar with as a site to check for plagiarism. Good news, though—they also check written pieces for Spanish language learners!
This is a simple copy-and-paste maneuver and most misspellings are easily detected.
Let’s take a peek at its features and the pros and cons:
- The program is color-coded, separating issues by type. If a style issue is problematic, it shows in one color. If it’s a spelling error, it’s highlighted in a different color. And if there’s a grammar item that needs to be addressed, it’s pointed out in yet another color. Spotting and understanding the issues is easy because they’re so clearly highlighted.
- The color-coding check makes it a snap for users to see where their Spanish writing challenges lie. If you consistently have that grammar color pop up, you know that it’s time to pay extra attention to your grammar practice. That holds true for spelling or style, also.
- An awesome additional feature is that some errors have an explanation you can check out in Spanish. Even when an explanation isn’t available, you can see a brief note (in Spanish) about what the error is. For example, the program picked up on y incluso, stating that when a word begins with “i-” or “hi-,” the y changes to an e (making it e incluso — and even).
- Punctuation, including commas and periods, is also checked for accuracy.
- It’s possible to add words and phrases to their dictionary. Doing so means that they won’t possibly get pointed out as errors if you use them a lot. This is especially beneficial to anyone who consistently uses topic-specific, or uncommon, vocabulary.
- Some features are included with the basic plan. However, if you create an account, you’re required to enter your credit card information in order to continue to the free trial—you can cancel any time, but it’s something to be aware of.
- If you need more than a basic plan, you’ll have to open your wallet. There are a couple of pay plans with varying features available to users.
The Human Grammar Checkers on Lang-8
I realize you might not have a friend who is a professional editor to turn to, but all learners can check over their Spanish texts for free with native speakers on the site Lang-8.
This obviously takes a bit more time, and the site is set up to encourage you to reciprocate by correcting others’ texts in your native language.
For the purposes of comparison, I submitted the same text that I used with the automatic checkers to the site, and corrected a few others’ texts in English.
Within about 24 hours, I received a correction from a user. He missed some errors, like my misspelling of the famous street Ramblas in Barcelona. But his corrections for gender, prepositions and general flow were, of course, much better than any of the automated grammar checkers.
In my experience with the site, users tend to be a bit conservative with their corrections. They will point out obvious errors, but they might not make your Spanish flow well or even sound like something that a native speaker would say.
The level of writing skill of native Spanish speakers varies widely, and you also don’t know where your checker comes from. In my case, I wanted to write in European Spanish, but the checker used words and constructions more common to Latin America.
One of the things that the site does to help address these problems is to let you get corrections from more than one person, and compare them as you would second opinions from a doctor. This can be confusing too, but is often useful. In order to get more corrections, you can gain points by correcting lots of others’ texts, or by signing up for a paid account.
The site also has a social feature that allows you to friend other users, and these personal connections can help you develop relationships and people to count on as you move forward in your writing in Spanish. It’s not uncommon to make appointments with other users to talk over Skype, for example.
Bonus: Learn Grammar In-context with FluentU
One final way you can make sure you’re using correct grammar is by looking for examples of it in use on FluentU.
This means that you can look for the grammar point that’s causing you trouble and watch videos where native Spanish speakers use it in everyday situations and popular Spanish media. The videos, in turn, are supported by interactive dual-language subtitles and transcripts, so your grammar learning won’t be hindered by not understanding the vocabulary.
For example, if you discover through one of the other grammar checkers that you struggle with the use of reflexive verbs, do a search on FluentU for the grammar concept and you’ll find a collection of videos showing the grammar point in use.
From there, you can just pick a video that interests you and watch how the grammar point you want to learn is used naturally in speech.
Sign up for the free FluentU trial to get started!
The verdict? LanguageTool is currently the best free online Spanish grammar checker for those who can understand explanations in Spanish. SpanishChecker may be better for beginners and useful for intermediate Spanish learners, as the interface and explanations are in English. My Stilus is good in a pinch if you want to do a quick check of writing that you know is mostly correct. Plagly is a good option if you’re fine with potentially making an investment, and is very user friendly.
And, of course, the very best was getting a native speaker to check your text on Lang-8.
Automated tools for grammar checking may be limited, but they can be very helpful for catching some things, and exchanges with humans can help you with the rest.
I hope that this gives you a great base to move forward as you continue to work on your Spanish writing, whether it’s for concrete tasks like mine, just for language learning or for the pleasure of writing itself.
Mose Hayward blogs about languages, drinks and adventures in Spain and around the world at TipsyPilgrim.com.
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