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.
Next, click “Options” at the bottom of the left-hand pane.
The “Word Options” window will appear. Click “Proofing” in the left pane.
Scroll down to the “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” section and then click “Settings.”
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.
Tick the checkbox next to any rules you want to enable and then click “OK” when you’re done.
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.
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.
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.