LanguageTool Plus: The German Grammarly alternative

LanguageTool image

Just a few days ago, I became aware of the Grammarly tool, which is a kind of instant spelling and grammar check for texts that you can use, for example, via a browser plugin in any text field in the Firefox browser. Grammarly is great, but unfortunately Grammarly doesn't exist in German. For this reason I looked around for an alternative and with Language Tool Plus Found the closest thing to Grammarly.

Paid premium account required

Yes, LanguageTool Plus also has a free basic account, but its functions are severely limited. Nevertheless, this basic variant also has a few advantages over normal browser plug-ins for spell checking: It already recognizes a few grammatical errors and automatically finds the appropriate text language, while with other plug-ins you always use the Browser have to change which language is now to be corrected.

You do not have to register for free use and you can use the plugin permanently for free. With the LanguageTool premium account, in addition to the usual spell check, you also get help with commas and even more suggestions for improvement if it looks like a grammatical error. I looked at the premium version because I wanted to see what LanguageTool has to offer.

With just under 60 euros a year, you get the upgrade to the premium account, which in my opinion is the only sensible choice if you want to use the help of LanguageTool.
With just under 60 euros a year, you get the upgrade to the premium account, which in my opinion is the only sensible choice if you want to use the help of LanguageTool.

LanguageTool's premium account currently costs around 5 euros a month if you choose annual payment.

Short note: Even if I am mainly concerned with the German language, LanguageTool is not limited to German. On a Overview page you can see the languages ​​that LanguageTool supports. However, the “Activity” bar shows that English, German and Portuguese are being developed the most.

How does LanguageTool Plus work?

When you have created and paid your account, you install the add-on or plug-in for the service in your browser. You can find the relevant links here:

After the installation you can enter your login data in the settings of the plugin so that the payment can be verified and you can manage your personal rules. Unfortunately, these are currently not managed centrally, which means that you only have your personal dictionary and rules available in the browser you are using and on the special computer.

If you are now on any website and enter text in a text field, LanguageTool automatically checks the text every few seconds. According to the provider, the text is sent to the provider's server, but not stored there.

In each multiline text field, LanguageTool shows how many errors it has found in the lower right corner. The display updates automatically as you type.
In each multiline text field, LanguageTool shows how many errors it has found in the lower right corner. The display updates automatically as you type.

In the lower right corner of the text field you can see a small, round symbol that is briefly blue with waves when checking the text and then immediately switches to a red number in a circle. The number shows how many errors LanguageTool found. These are also marked directly in the text by underlining words in red, yellow or blue, for example. Words that are obviously wrong or unknown are underlined in red. Suggestions that show a better word suggestion are highlighted in blue, and grammar and comma errors are underlined in yellow.

LanguageTool marks the corresponding words in the text and with a click on the word, a window opens with information and options.
LanguageTool marks the corresponding words in the text and with a click on the word, a window opens with information and options.

Now you can click on the highlighted word with the mouse and you will get a description of the error or a comment. Unknown words that you have certainly spelled correctly can be added to your personal dictionary with one click and an exception can be set up for rules that you do not want with a click. These exceptions can be viewed in your personal account and removed again when you call up the settings of the add-on.

LanguageTool is also happy to help with comma placement.
LanguageTool is also happy to help with comma placement.

How errors are detected by LanguageTool

How the tool checks “technically” is well described on the website:

LanguageTool checks every text simultaneously using three methods:

  • Spell check: LanguageTool checks every word for its spelling and uses the same dictionary as LibreOffice, but expanded by more than 10.000 words.
  • Error pattern: LanguageTool has around 2200 error patterns for German that identify specific problems in texts. These patterns refer to a sequence of specific words and parts of speech. For example, “yes faster, the” is recognized as an error because there is a rule that recognizes the sequence “yes”, increased adjective, “desto” as a probable error and instead of “yes” suggests the word “je”.
  • Statistics: Many word pairs from similar words are checked to see whether the other word could possibly be meant. For this purpose, it is checked how often the word usually occurs in which context and how often. If one word occurs much more frequently than the other in a specific context, it is assumed to be correct and the less frequently occurring word is assumed to be incorrect. Two words before and after the word concerned are used as context. An example of this is the word pair you / yes. Both are spelled correctly on their own - the context only reveals which word is correct.

You can see that there is a lot of know-how and technical standards behind the tool. That also shows active communitywhich helps to improve the rules and markings or to expand the error database.

LanguageTool is not infallible either: It would like to have put a wrong comma here, but does not recognize that I wrote "recognizes" instead of "recognized".
LanguageTool is not infallible either: it wants to put a wrong comma here, but doesn't realize that I wrote "recognized" instead of "recognized".

As always with automatic spelling and grammar checkers, using “brain” is also popular with LanguageTool. Not all of the words it criticizes or tries to correct are actually wrong. However, if you read your sentence in context, you can usually tell whether LanguageTool's suggestion is right or wrong. Unfortunately, most of the time he is right. ;-)

The new spelling isn't that new anymore, but I still can't speak it. Only today did I learn that you write "how many" apart.
The new spelling isn't that new anymore, but I still don't know it. Only today I learned that you write “how many” apart.

My conclusion on the LanguageTool service

I haven't tried Grammarly excessively as I don't write lyrics in English. As far as my wife (she is a native English speaker) explained it to me, Grammarly helps a little more than LanguageTool, as it also recognizes things that are not directly wrong, but which should be avoided in texts:

  • same sentence start in the following sentences
  • Repetition of verbs in consecutive sentences
  • wrong tenses in texts
  • unfortunate formulations

LanguageTool also has functions that go in this direction, but they are not yet fully active, as you can see with Grammarly. But I have high hopes that the developers will stick with the ball and keep improving the service. The payment through the subscription model should help that there is constant motivation in the direction.

No fair play: It may be meant as a joke, but it seems a bit unfriendly if the competitor "Grammarly" is underlined as the wrong spelling and "LanguageTool" is suggested as the correct spelling.
No fair play: It may be meant as a joke, but it seems a bit unfriendly when the competitor "Grammarly" is underlined as the wrong spelling and "LanguageTool" is suggested as the correct spelling.

Overall, the use of the tool is very intuitive and visually appealing. The fact that the check is carried out constantly and in every text field (you can create exceptions for domains) ensures that you quickly get used to dealing with it. I've only been using it for a few days, but I appreciate the active blogging support so much that I don't want to miss it anymore.

If you want to check the service for free, you can either do this by installing the plug-in with the limited free account, or you can test your texts in the Online examiner on the website copy. There you can already see what the tool recognizes and how the texts are marked. The highlighting with the Firefox add-on looks much nicer, however.

What could be done better?

I noticed three things that I would like to submit as suggestions for improvement:

  • The tool does not recognize double spaces. This is a typical mistake that occurs again and again when writing texts and which should of course be corrected.
  • The same beginning of consecutive sentences should be recognized and marked as a problem (but it will not be actual).
  • When I am in the Wordpress editor and click on the number of errors below, a window opens with a list of the corresponding errors. If I hover over this window with the mouse pointer, the entire article suddenly scrolls up (for the developers: macOS Mojave with the latest version of the Firefox browser).

For me as an author, it would be very nice if LanguageTool would move further in the direction of Grammarly when it comes to suggestions for wording and suggestions for improvement for easy-to-read texts.

► Sounds interesting? Continue to Languagetool here. ◄

Transparency notice

I got one year “Premium” for free from the developers to test the tool. However, I approached her because I find the service interesting and, as a blogger, of course, constantly write texts in the browser. I would like to thank the makers of LanguageTool for the “Premium Year”. But I can promise you that this has not caused me to report positively about the tool. For me, who writes texts in the browser every day, the service is so helpful that I already know that I will continue to book it after the year.

 

 

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9 comments on “LanguageTool Plus: The German Grammarly Alternative”

  1. Hello and thank you for the interesting article. The comma in the second indent of the paragraph "What could be done better" can safely be omitted (The same beginning of consecutive sentences should be recognized and marked as a problem (but it is currently not).).
    ;-)
    A good start into the new week
    Hartmut

  2. Hallo,

    I believe the last example is about repeating Grammarly and that LanguageTool should be used as a replacement. Only the tool did not understand the statement.
    I am looking for this position in German. Namely, that synonyms are suggested. Is there such a thing? Or can this LanguageTool do that?

    1. Hello Ingrid! No, LanguageTool does not suggest synonyms. What you are looking for is a thesaurus. I would give you the project https://www.openthesaurus.de/ recommend. I think there are browser addons for that too, which you can then use to find synonyms in the Wordpress Editor or other online text areas.

  3. Mathias Landgrave

    Thanks for pointing out the program, fruit crusader.

    We're only half enthusiastic about Grammarly at our company as it only supports English. I'm curious to see if LanguageTools offers similarly good advice in the style (and style) of Grammarly.

    Grammarly hasn't worked in Outlook since the update in December 2021 (we have some old computers with old Office packages). It now only runs on Windows 10-1904 or higher.

    We're testing LanguageTools and would be happy if we could use more languages.

    The Landgrave

    1. Hello Mathias! I'm still happy with Languagetools. Sometimes he bitches about things that I don't quite understand and sometimes he doesn't bitch about things that should be corrected, but the bottom line is that the tool finds a lot of things in my texts. And there will probably still be a lot of errors in there, but it's still a very good help. I would write to support about the Outlook integration. They answered me very quickly when I had questions.

  4. I must confess that I have now switched to DeepL. That speaks many languages. The translations are good and the thesaurus is built in. I'm totally satisfied.

    1. Mathias Landgrave

      I can only agree with you, Ingrid. DeepL has excellent quality.

      When I write an email to the USA, I usually do it in English.
      But if she's important to me, she'll come after DeepL. Translate back to German once, then switch windows and back to English again.
      Then you can see how much life there is in the translation and where there is still room for rounding off my formulations.

      What I also recently rediscovered is the Google Translator on the smartphone. He's evolved quite a bit. Point the camera at a Chinese instruction manual and you can read live what it means in German or English. Brilliant!

      Unfortunately, it doesn't work for the 3-4 point high texts in a reduced Aliexpress manual with a page size of 40x40mm. To do this, the camera would have to be macro-capable and be able to concentrate the entire resolution on a thumbnail :-).

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