The 6 best free French grammar checkers
Published on July 12, 2022 / Updated on January 5, 2024
Alongside online thesaurus and directives from the Académie française, grammar checkers are other useful tools to understand and write in French. Be it to type a quick email or draft a formal letter in French, they help you ensure your grammar and your spelling are correct. They have grown so much in popularity that you are now spoiled for choice, and may even find it difficult to pick one. To help you decide, we have tested six French grammar checkers available for free online.
For the sake of our test, we took a sentence from Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince): “J’ai des amis à découvrir et beaucoup de choses à connaître” (I have friends to discover and many things to learn). We then added five grammar and spelling mistakes to it, as follows: “J’ai des ami a découvrir est bocoup de choses à conaitre”, and used the wrong sentence on each of the grammar checkers in our list. We considered how many mistakes each was able to spot and correct, but also how user-friendly and complete they appeared, in order to rank the six contenders:
If LanguageTool comes at the top of our list, it’s not just because it was able to identify four mistakes out of five. As you will see, it’s not the only one to achieve this result. In our opinion, the real bonus of LanguageTool is the type and the clarity of the extra information it provides.
For instance, on the first error, des ami, it was the sole grammar corrector to provide the only two possible correct versions in this syntax, depending on whether you are referring to male or female friends. Other correctors either merely pointed out the error or provided more possible versions, which, though they exist, don’t quite fit in this particular syntax.
Right after LanguageTool, Scribens comes in as a close second. In our test, it was able to spot the exact same four errors. The suggested edits were also correct. But you may not get all the possible correct versions and the explanations may not be quite as clear, unless you decide to click on règle générale (general rule) to get a very detailed grammar overview.
In third position, Textgears is not quite as efficient as LanguageTool and Scribens. While it still detects four mistakes, the possible corrections it suggests may not all be relevant to the particular syntax. Looking at the same error as previously, Textgears offers four suggestions to correct des ami: two with the article des (some) and two with the preposition de (of). However, in view of the syntax, the two suggestions with the preposition de are irrelevant. Something which Textgears doesn’t seem able to recognize…
Further down the list, Bon Patron can identify when something is wrong and why it is wrong. But it may fall short of giving you the actual correct version in a clear and straightforward manner. Instead, it may tell you possible ways on how you can correct a word yourself. A bit more of a hassle, though this can also be a good opportunity to practice French grammar:
In other cases, you may be confused by the heap of alternative words you are flooded with to replace a badly spelled one.
This ranking may look surprising, considering Reverso is the only French grammar corrector in our list to highlight the five errors in our test sentence. However, it fails to properly correct one of them, thus replacing one error by another. Indeed, the tool didn’t manage to figure out the grammar and syntax of the sentence correctly: In this sentence, it is not another form of the verbe être (to be) that is needed, but rather the word et (and).
Yes, technically, Google Docs is a free online word processor, and not a grammar and spell checker. However, it does include the feature in French, alongside other useful ones like predictive text. For obvious reasons, the grammar and spell checker on Google Docs is fairly limited. For instance, it may correctly suggest to add a missing French accent on à (to), but without explaining why the version without it, a (has), is incorrect:
Also, it is the only software in our list that was able to spot only three mistakes out of five. It failed to recognize that des ami was incorrect, even though the error could be deemed fairly easy to spot.
Overall, all the French grammar checkers in our list will be a great help in your writing efforts in French. However, from our simple test, it appears that LanguageTools and Scribens are the best choices. They are able to correct your main mistakes, but also to understand the nature of your mistakes, which is a great additional benefit in your learning. The fact that they are available for free online is just the icing on your French gâteau…