HUMOR

If Famous Writers Used Grammarly

Shakespeare writes better than the Bible — who knew?

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan
Nov 1, 2020 · 7 min read
William Shakespeare — Painted by John Taylor, Public Domain

In 2020, we have been cursed in many ways, but the writing community has been blessed by one tool: Grammarly. That’s right — Grammarly, the holy grail writing tool that turns gibberish into masterpieces, shit into gold, and confusing typos into sensible language, would have made the lives of Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and James Baldwin significantly easier. And, not, to, mention, that, Grammarly, would, have, made, them, use, more, commas.

Regardless, here are six quotes from famous historical writers, all fixed and fashioned by Grammarly (all Grammarly changes are in bold):

Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Scarlet Letter”

Original quote:

“It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object.”

Grammarly version:

“It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at the bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object.”

Analysis:

Wow! I always knew Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the most legendary writers in the English language, but to have a near perfect Grammarly score? Grammarly loves Hawthorne — I see he loves his commas and his semicolons. As much as I labored through The Scarlet Letter when I was 16, who knew I should write all my stories about women getting slut-shamed and ostracized in Puritan Massachusetts?

Matthew, Bible, Matthew 24:1–2, King James Version

Original quote:

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Grammarly version:

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye, not all these things? Verily I say unto you. There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Analysis:

Is Grammarly anti-Christian? Or does it just hate the King James Version? I rest assured that more recent translations of the Bible do better on Grammarly. Still, according to Grammarly, Matthew 24:1–2 has all the grammar problems of the day — not enough commas, not enough capitalized words, and fragments. Grammarly frowns upon the grammar of holy texts! And Grammarly also has no idea what shew means! Shame on you, Grammarly — you don’t have a dictionary for 1600s English?

But maybe it’s just Matthew who has more Grammarly corrections. John, Luke, and Mark may have been better writers.

Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

Original quote:

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;”

Grammarly version:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether it is nobler in mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;”

Analysis:

Shakespeare writes better than the Bible — who knew? Grammarly just had to cut down some of Hamlet’s repetitive language and his eloquent nature. ’Tis also got replaced by it is so if we knew Hamlet, a depressed and grieving prince who wants to kill his language today, we should take a lesson from Grammarly. Instead of helping him or stopping him, we have to stop Hamlet from using unnecessary, wordy sentences.

William Faulkner, “Absalom, Absalom!”

Original version:

“You get born and you try this and you don’t know why only you keep on trying it and you are born at the same time with a lot of other people, all mixed up with them, like trying to, having to, move your arms and legs with strings only the same strings are hitched to all the other arms and legs and the others all trying and they don’t know why either except that the strings are all in one another’s way like five or six people all trying to make a rug on the same loom only each one wants to weave his own pattern into the rug; and it can’t matter, you know that, or the Ones that set up the loom would have arranged things a little better, and yet it must matter because you keep on trying or having to keep on trying and then all of a sudden it’s all over.”

Grammarly version:

“You get born, and you try this, and you don’t know why only you keep on trying it and you are born at the same time with a lot of other people, all mixed up with them, like trying to, having to, move your arms and legs with strings only the same strings are hitched to all the other arms and legs and the others all trying and they don’t know why either except that the strings are all in one another’s way like five or six people all trying to make a rug on the same loom only each one wants to weave his own pattern into the rug, and it can’t matter, you know that, or the ones that set up the loom would have arranged things a little better, and yet it must matter because you keep on trying or having to keep on trying and then all of a sudden it’s all over.”

Analysis:

I will admit — I expected Grammarly to make much more than three corrections for you, Faulkner! However, your biggest problem wasn’t the run-on sentences — it’s the commas! You, don’t, use enough, commas, Mr. Faulkner. Shame on you.

Virginia Woolf, “To The Lighthouse”

Original version:

“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”

Grammarly version:

“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question, one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations; matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”

Analysis:

It seems like Virginia Woolf’s only problem with Grammarly is punctuation — where she uses commas, Grammarly believes she must have used semicolons. And where she used semicolons, Grammarly believes she should have used commas! Where the writing is near perfect, Grammarly goes for nitpicking punctuation!

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Original version:

“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind — wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.”

Grammarly version:

“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind — wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.”

Analysis:

The corrections of Beloved are just excising the first “holding” for wordiness. All I can say is wow, Grammarly. Sometimes you make writing worse! Sometimes writers intentionally repeat themselves — have you ever thought of that, Grammarly? Otherwise, I see you like short sentences and many commas, which Toni Morrison uses in this passage. Interesting!

Alright, Grammarly. You weren’t as intrusive in famous writers’ writing as I thought you would be — kudos to you. I see you like your commas, and you hate your repetitive language. You told Toni Morrison and Shakespeare to reduce their wordiness, Virginia Woolf to swap her semicolons and commas, and Faulkner to use more punctuation. And you ripped the King James Version of the Bible a new one!

If famous writers used Grammarly, they could have made so much more of an impact. Who knew that Faulkner would have sold 2 million more books, if only he used Grammarly?

MuddyUm

Bootleg Humor. Since 1720.

Ryan Fan

Written by

Ryan Fan

Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Email: ryanfan17@gmail.com. Support me: ko-fi.com/ryanfan

MuddyUm

MuddyUm

Bootleg Humor Since 1720

Ryan Fan

Written by

Ryan Fan

Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Email: ryanfan17@gmail.com. Support me: ko-fi.com/ryanfan

MuddyUm

MuddyUm

Bootleg Humor Since 1720

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