Think auto-correct and grammar-checking tools are old hat? Think again!
With the advent of artificial intelligence, language tools have gone far beyond checking spelling or catching missing punctuation. Today’s tools consider context and advise you on the tone of your copy, helping you write more clearly and effectively. They will even double-check things like international bank account numbers or alert you when you write “Monday, January 13, 2021” — because that’s actually a Wednesday!
One very popular tool for this is Grammarly. But there’s one big caveat: It only speaks English. If you’re a Grammarly user who wished it could also help you with, say, Spanish or German, you may have been excited to learn about Microsoft’s “Editor.” It supports 20 languages and works in all Office apps and major web browsers (except Safari), but to get the good stuff, you need a Microsoft 365 subscription. So today, we’d like to tell you about another option: LanguageTool.
This handy app currently supports 30 languages (and language variants) to various degrees. Full support — including spelling, grammar and style hints — is available for English, German, French, Spanish, and Dutch. Spelling and (limited) grammar checks are currently available for Arabic, Catalan, Danish, Esperanto, Greek, Irish, Italian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, and Ukrainian.
The tool is open-source, which means you can peek behind the scenes if you like. And you can join the community to extend and improve the language coverage.
LanguageTool can be used almost anywhere people get writing done these days: Microsoft Word, its open-source equivalents OpenOffice and LibreOffice as well as Google Docs (requires Premium plan) and major browsers like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera. (Safari is apparently coming soon.) You can also copy and paste your text into the simple web interface.
Once installed in your browser, LanguageTool is always just a click away. It helps you write more effective emails and avoid embarrassing typos on social media. Basically, it’s your stand-by editor, whenever and wherever you write. (Of course, if you don’t want assistance for a specific site, you can disable LanguageTool there.)
If you like what you see, consider signing up for an online account. This lets you set up your preferences and store texts for later. LanguageTool will provide you with statistics for your text, such as reading or speaking time and the number of characters, words and sentences. Just like in Word, you can add specific words to a personal dictionary. (And if you’re a language nerd like us, you can turn on “Picky mode,” which checks for issues like long sentences or passive voice.)
So what does it cost? Just like Grammarly, LanguageTool operates on a Freemium model. Basic use is free, and when you want more features, you can purchase a subscription starting at roughly 5 Euros per month.
This column was first published in the 311th edition (January 2020) of the Tool Box Journal.