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Speak and Write Better. There's an App for That

English Grammar Aids for Both Native Speakers and Students

App Smart | Improve Your English

Three free apps to help you improve your command of English-language grammar.
Video by Kit Eaton and Dallas Jensen on Publish Date January 28, 2015.

I’M going to be very careful writing this week’s column. I’m trying not to make any grammatical mistakes.

Even though I’ve published millions of words, I’m certain some errors will slip through because we’re all guilty of making grammatical mistakes from time to time. But learning grammar is easier than ever now — with the right apps, of course.

And they are not just for people learning English; they’re also good for those of us who already speak it.

The free app Practice English Grammar from Cleverlize is among the most polished, and is easy to use for improving your grammar skills. It’s available for both iOS and Android and covers the whole gamut of grammatical details from conjunctions through tenses to using the passive voice.

Its main interface is a pleasing graphical display of your progress in each of the various modules. Tapping on one of these modules takes you to a section where you can see the grammar lessons in the form of flashcards, and then a section where you can test your knowledge in an interactive quiz.

The flashcards are easy to read, with the bare minimum of information you need to know. For example, did you know that the present continuous tense is formed with the help of the auxiliary verb “to be”? Still, while the flashcards are easy to read, sometimes the information feels a little too spartan.

The app is clean and professional with few frills, and I liked its no-nonsense style. I even learned a thing or two while reviewing it. But it can get costly.

While the core app is free with basic lessons, you have to purchase more content in-app if you want access to every module. Individual modules cost $1, or you can subscribe for around $10 a month.

Another option is the LearnEnglish Grammar app from the British Council. This app, too, has lessons covering different subjects and has sections to review and test your knowledge. The design is plain, with simple colors, large text and straightforward instructions, so it’s easy to use.

Its testing system is a little more fun than Practice English Grammar’s; you play simple games to enter the correct answers to quiz questions. I also liked the linguistic examples it gives when you’re learning about a particular grammatical rule, because they feel more natural for a native English speaker.

This app is free for both iOS and Android, but you must pay for the complete range of content. Packs cover grammatical topics at different levels, from Beginner Pack 1 to Intermediate Pack 2 for more advanced lessons, and each costs $1.

Interestingly, there’s both a British English edition (free on iOS and Android) and an American English one (free on iOS and Android), which may be handy if you find yourself writing mainly for one audience or the other.

A free alternative to these apps on Android is English Grammar Ultimate from Maxlogic. The app lacks the design polish of the other two mentioned here, but it is still well organized into sections for different grammatical rules and has an easy-to-use interface.

You may find the way this app explains grammar suits you even more because of the slightly longer explanations and examples it gives.

For testing your grammatical skills on Android devices, you should also check out English Grammar Test by SevenLynx. This app has a clean and attractive look, and feels professional and trustworthy for a free piece of software. It also does a nice job of explaining why your incorrect test answers were wrong.

For brushing up on your grammar in a business setting, apps like Grammar and Practice for Business from HarperCollins and Grammar Up from Webrich Software are great options.

The HarperCollins app, which is free for iOS with paid lessons at different levels of learning, is built with the publisher’s traditional quality and is packed with detailed examples and tests. The app hasn’t been updated in quite a while, though, which may mean it manifests some bugs on your device.

Also, this app isn’t available for Android and is word-centric in design, so you may prefer the more relaxed and graphical style of Grammar Up, free as a sampler on iOS and Android, and $5 for all the tests. Grammar Up offers some neat feedback in the form of graphs showing where your grammatical strengths and weaknesses lie, and this may help you decide where to concentrate your learning efforts.
Grammar can be fun. As Winston Churchill joked, “A preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with.”

Quick Call 

If you’re an Android owner and in thrall to all the delightful digital fare your phone can offer, then you should try QualityTime, free from ZeroDesktop. This appanalyzes how often you use your phone and which apps you click on the most. If you’re surprised by how often you are staring at your phone, you can set alerts to help you manage your time.

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