Grammarly Sometimes Makes Mistakes with Subject-Verb Agreement


Posted by Jake Magnum | December 18, 2017 | Grammarly Flaws


This is the first article in what will be an ongoing series of articles about mistakes that the highly popular computerized self-proofreading tool Grammarly makes. Grammarly is a great tool that catches many mistakes that Microsoft Word’s built-in spell-checker misses. However, Grammarly sometimes wants to make changes that should not be made. Thus, blindly following Grammarly’s suggestions can result in creating new errors instead of eliminating them.

The first Grammarly flaw that I will be discussing is its occasional inaccuracy regarding subject-verb agreement.

An article I posted previously about using continually versus using continuously included the following phrase:

The first of these two sentences means that it has been raining…

Grammarly found an error with this phrase, as shown in the screenshot below:

Self-Proofreading Advice - Grammarly Flaws - Subject-Verb Agreement

Grammarly’s advice is not good in this instance. the verb means does agree with the subject The first. Both are in the singular form.

While doing some fooling around with this phrase, I found something curious. Grammarly only identifies a subject-verb agreement error when the word two is included in the phrase. Grammarly does not identify any errors in the following phrases:

Self-Proofreading Advice - Grammarly Flaws - Subject-Verb Agreement

Because all these phrases are considered to be fine, it is odd that Grammarly identifies an error when two is used.

If I had followed Grammarly’s advice, I would have ended up with the grammatically incorrect “The first of these two sentences mean that it has been raining.”