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Microsoft Word comes with a powerful grammar checker, but many of its advanced grammar detection features are disabled by default. Grammarly is popular, but you don’t need it to add grammar checking to Word. Word itself contains a free alternative to Grammarly.

The grammar checker is part of all modern versions of Microsoft Word, including Word for Office 365, Word 2019, and Word 2016. It’s getting better, too: Microsoft just announced a more powerful AI-based grammar checker will come to Office Insiders in June and will be available to everyone in fall 2019.

How to Boost Word’s Grammar Checker

To find Word’s grammar checking settings, click “File” at the top left corner of a Microsoft Word window.

Select file tab

Next, click “Options” at the bottom of the left-hand pane.

select options

The “Word Options” window will appear. Click “Proofing” in the left pane.

Proofing in Word Options

Scroll down to the “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” section and then click “Settings.”

settings for spelling and grammar checker

The “Grammar Settings” window will appear. The grammar checker in Word is enabled by default, as are many of these options here. However, you’ll notice that a lot of options towards the bottom aren’t enabled. For example, you can turn on options to have Word check for things like passive voice, jargon, split infinitives, and even some more specific refinements.

For example, there’s a “Resume” section with rules specific to errors found in many resumes. We recommend doing a bit of research on how to write a proper resume, but you can enable these rules and Word will give you a helping hand.

advanced grammar settings

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Tick the checkbox next to any rules you want to enable and then click “OK” when you’re done.

select advanced settings

If you ever want to undo your changes and reset Word’s grammar checker back to its default settings, return here and click “Reset All.”

Click “OK” once more to close Word’s options window.

select ok at word options window

The selected rules are now applied to Word’s grammar checker. When Word detects a grammar error, you’ll see a blue squiggle. You can right-click it to see suggestions.

Fixing a grammar error in Word 2019 for Office 365

If you’re curious about what a rule does, Microsoft’s online help site provides a comprehensive list of rules and their functions. Specific rules are missing if you are using Word 2013 or earlier, but the list of available options is still pretty impressive.

Grammarly’s grammar checker is still more powerful than Microsoft Word’s, and it also works outside of Word anywhere on the web. But many people can get by with Word’s grammar checker—especially if they enable more of its built-in options.

Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
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