Learning to write in any language is tricky but English is one of the hardest to master. Aside from picking the right words to go into a sentence, there are the added challenges of grammar, word order and punctuation to consider. Add to this, the fact that many English words are often not spelt as they sound and beginners are in for a steep learning curve.
Thankfully, there are many fantastic tools out there to make the language learning process easier.
Here are 10 of the best free online tools to improve your written English.
1. Grammarly - AI-powered application to help you communicate more effectively
Enhance your writing with grammarly
Grammarly is one of the best-known English writing programs and certainly among the most advanced. Their company mission is to improve the communication skills of English speakers – and learners – across the globe and they do this by offering several grammar and content-checking tools.
The easiest way to use Grammarly is to install their free Google Chrome extension. When activated, it will suggest synonyms, correct hundreds of spelling and grammar mistakes and teach you to avoid similar errors in future. You can also paste written text into their online app to receive a score in categories like clarity and engagement.
2. Thesaurus - Helps you find the perfect word
A thesaurus is every writer’s best friend. Whether you’re looking for a new way to describe something or you’re trying to expand your vocabulary, a digital thesaurus will provide word alternatives to make your sentences more precise and engaging.
Thesaurus.com is the world’s largest free online thesaurus. Simply search for the word that you’d like to replace and the site will provide a list of synonyms and antonyms – words of similar and opposite meaning, respectively – from its database of over 3 million.
3. Ginger - The AI-powered writing assistant
Ginger is an AI-driven editing tool which functions like Grammarly, correcting mistakes as you work and suggesting alternative words to make your phrases more interesting. Beyond fixing basic spelling and grammar, Ginger reviews your work as you write and makes suggestions based on entire sentences, rather than single words.
To take your written English to the next level, invest in Ginger Premium. Among many advanced features, the paid program includes a learning centre which tracks your most common errors and offers specialised training to overcome them.
4. Reverse Dictionary - Search for words by their definition
One of the hardest things about learning to write in another language is recalling the right words. It can be particularly frustrating if you’re a strong writer in your native tongue but only a novice in a new language. Reverse Dictionary is here to solve this problem. The free site enables you to find a word based on its definition.
For instance, if you’re looking for a word to describe someone who is ‘very funny’, type these two words into Reverse Dictionary and it will produce a list of terms that match this criteria, such as ‘hilarious’ and ‘hysterical’. Start searching regularly and your vocab will expand in no time.
5. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level by Text Compare - A modified readibility formula
A great piece of content is clear, concise and engaging. One way to see whether your writing is easy to understand is by running it through a readability tool like the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
The Flesch-Kincaid model is considered one of the most reliable measures of readability. It analyses content and grades it based on how easy it is to understand – with fifth grade being ‘very easy to read’ and college being ‘difficult to read’. Experts suggest that, as a guide, content for the general public should be around eighth grade.
6. Expresso - A tool to edit texts and improve your writing style
If you’re confident with your spelling and grammar skills, you may just want to have your work reviewed for reassurance. Expresso is perfect for this purpose. The no-frills site allows you to type or paste in some text, which it then analyses against more than 40 programmed metrics such as adjectives, passive voice and filler words.
The site aims to improve writing and highlight parts of a text, but its founders suggest using it as a guide, rather than a bible. After all, there’s no set formula to great writing.
7. Writer Igniter by diyMFA - Provides ideas and helps you boost your creativity
Practice really does make perfect when it comes to improving your written English. The Writer Igniter tool by diyMFA – an online do-it-yourself alternative to a Master of Fine Arts degree – is a great way to get into a consistent writing habit.
When you click ‘Shuffle’ on the Writer Igniter, the site will randomly generate a character, situation, prop and setting. All that’s left to do is put pen to paper – or fingers to keys, as the case may be.
8. Hemingway - Designed to help you polish your writing
Hemingway marks up text much like a teacher would in a language class. The program highlights sentences according to the categories under which they fit. For instance, lines that it flags as hard to understand are coloured yellow, while any phrases that could be swapped for a simpler alternative are marked in pink.
The program also provides a readability grade based on its overall analysis.
9. 750 Words - It encourages you to practice writing every day
Users are encouraged to log onto the site every day and type 750 words about anything and everything – as long as the words are on the page, you’re doing it right.
10. VisuWords - Your visual dictionary and thesaurus
Just type in a word and the self-described ‘visual lexicon’ will quickly build a visual representation of its synonyms and related words. Each part of the mind map has a definition and is colour-coded; purple words are nouns, green are verbs, orange are adjectives and reds are adverbs.
Practice makes perfect
We hope you give these free tools a go to improve your writing. Choose the ones that work best for you and commit to putting words on the page every day. If you keep practising, you’ll be amazed at how much you improve. Happy learning!