There are lots of tools you can use to check your French for grammar, spelling and conjugation mistakes.
But how well do they perform?
That’s what I wanted to find out so I selected 5 sentences a French learner submitted online and corrected them with a few French grammar checkers.
In this article, you’ll discover how reliable grammar checkers are and learn about a few alternatives.
French grammar checkers can make your text worse
Most French grammar checkers are free but it doesn’t mean you should use them.
In fact, my little experiment shows that they often make your text worse.
Here are the sentences I submitted. As you can see, they contain quite a few spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
I chose these sentences because they were submitted by a French learner on the French Help subreddit and contains mistakes you’re likely to make as a French learner.
Formidable! Qu’est que tu vas faire la semaine prochaine?
Je vais faire du magasinage pour les cadeaux.
Pourquoi êtes-vous achetez les cadeaux?
Est-ce l’anniversaire d’amie?
Non, ce n’est pas du l’anniversaire d’amie. J’acheté les cadeaux pour ma famille pour le Noël.
Now let’s see how well French grammar checkers performed!
Do you know that feeling when you buy a product with high hopes only to be disappointed as soon as you start using it?
That’s how I felt after using Reverso French. The tool being based on Cordial, a rather well-known French grammar checker, I expected it to catch most mistakes and offer helpful suggestions.
Unfortunately, the tool missed several punctuation mistakes and turned three grammar mistakes into different grammar mistakes.
As a result, the corrected text contains new grammar mistakes and is in no way better than the text submitted.
BonPatron has several advantages compared to other grammar checkers. You can indicate that the person speaking is a woman which makes a huge difference in French, and it offers explanations in English as well as a detailed list of possible errors.
The tool corrected 4 punctuation mistakes, one grammar mistake and gave two useful suggestions to fix other mistakes.
Unfortunately, it also added a mistake that didn’t exist before and turned a mistake into another.
BonPatron performed better than Reverso French but we’re still far from perfection.
LanguageTool is a French grammar checker with explanations in French. It found fewer mistakes than Reverso and BonPatron but at least didn’t add any.
It corrected 4 punctuation mistakes and made a good suggestion. Unfortunately, the explanations are in French which makes understanding your mistakes tricky if you’re a beginner.
Scribens corrected 4 punctuation mistakes, a conjugation mistake and found an error without offering any fix.
I can’t recommend Scrivens considering the tool offers no explanations in English and performed worse than others.
Antidote is the software I use to proofread my French. I love it because it contains a dictionary, a thesaurus, and other useful tools.
I was pretty excited to review it (I reviewed Antidote 8) since it has helped me a lot as a native French speaker.
Unfortunately, it didn’t particularly shine during this test since it successfully corrected all punctuation mistakes, fixed one conjugation mistake but turned two mistakes into other mistakes.
Microsoft Word offers a French grammar checker I didn’t have the chance to review since I don’t own Microsoft Word.
However, most reviews seem to indicate it performs rather poorly and is better used as a simple spellchecker.
You probably use Google everyday but did you know it’s also a very useful tool to proofread your French?
A great way to use Google to correct your French is to type your (short) sentence in the search engine and see if major websites use it.
Here you can see that no website seems to use the sentence “Pourquoi êtes-vous achetez les cadeaux”. That’s a sign that the sentence is incorrect or at least that French people wouldn’t use it.
Human grammar checkers
Software are pretty good as spellcheckers but they perform rather poorly as grammar checkers which is why I recommend you to find someone who can correct your French instead.
Here are several websites you can use for that
Lang-8 is a social network for French learners. You can post your text in French and ask native speakers to offer you feedback and correct your mistakes.
However, you’re also expected to correct mistakes people make in your native language. The more you correct, the more corrections you get.
The goal of this subreddit is to help you improve your French and learn from your mistakes. Members won’t necessarily correct everything for you but will rather show you your mistakes so you learn how to correct them.
“This is a subreddit for all those questions pertaining to enhancing one’s comprehension of the French language. Using peer review, we seek to develop a better understanding of the French language and its nuances. This Subreddit is designed to be a teaching, not telling, platform. We try to focus on guidance and not just giving an answer with no explanation.”
Wordreference is my favorite English-French dictionary but also offers a forum where you can ask questions about French words and get short sentences corrected.
You can also use it to ask questions about French grammar.
Yozzi is a website you can use to post longer texts. The idea is to post a text in French and get useful suggestions from other members.
French verb conjugators
It’s safe to assume you’ll want to look up the conjugation of a French verb at least once. In fact, I regularly do so even though I’m a native speaker!
These are the three best French verb conjugators in my experience:
Your conversation partner
Having a conversation partner is essential if you want to speak French fluently one day and it’s also a good way to get your texts corrected.
Just make sure you don’t overwhelm your conversation partner with requests to correct your text, correcting can quickly become boring.
Over to you
What has your experience been with French grammar checkers? Have they helped you or do you feel that they made things worse?