In today’s digital age, the demand for polished English writing has never been higher. Many paid services promise to improve your writing with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). However, there is a free and easy way to achieve most features that paid services offer without paying for any software or subscription. You have probably heard of ChatGPT, a powerful language model that can also edit, write copy, and correct English without costing you a penny. In this blog post, we will explore how to utilize ChatGPT effectively to enhance your written communication skills without breaking the bank.
ChatGPT is available to try now on OpenAI’s offical website. Registration required.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI. It is trained on a vast amount of text from the internet, making it adept at understanding and generating human-like language. It’s capable of generating content such as poems, stories, code, essays, songs, celebrity parodies and more. While it may not be perfect, ChatGPT has made significant strides in recent years and can now help with various writing tasks. If you know how to word your inputs to ChatGPT correctly, it can also help you with rewriting, improving or optimizing your content. While it has limitations, so do all of the current paid AI-based writing tools.
In fact, if utilized correctly, ChatGPT is better than most of the paid writing tools that are available on the market. Here are some of the main reasons why:
- Price: ChatGPT is completely free to use, while most of the paid writing tools charge a monthly or annual fee for their services. For example, Grammarly Premium costs $12 USD per month, ProWritingAid costs $10 USD per month, and Jasper AI costs $49 USD per month. These fees can add up quickly, especially if you need to use multiple tools for different purposes or decide to switch services. With ChatGPT, you don’t have to worry about paying or subscribing to anything. There is a paid version of ChatGPT that provides higher server priority making responses faster, but it’s quite fast already so this isn’t necessary. The paid version also has newer updates, which is also unnecessary for most purposes.
- Versatility: With the right prompt, ChatGPT can do just about anything paid services can do. And ChatGPT can do more than just editing, writing and correction. It can also generate various types of creative content, such as poems, stories, code, essays, songs, celebrity parodies and more. It can also help you with rewriting, improving or optimizing your content in more complex ways. You can ask ChatGPT to do anything related to language and communication, and it will succeed more often than not. Most of the paid writing tools are specialized for specific tasks or genres, such as fiction writing, academic writing, business writing, etc. They may not be able to handle complex or diverse requests or generate original content for you.
- Engagement: ChatGPT is a chatbot that can interact with you in a friendly and conversational way. It can also provide feedback and explanations for its suggestions or output. This makes using ChatGPT more fun and engaging than using a typical writing tool that only gives you corrections or suggestions without any context or personality, as well as being more educational. For example, rather than just correcting a sentence, you could ask ChatGPT to explain to you why a sentence is incorrect to improve your English and writing skills.
It’s all about the prompt
Sounds like a pretty useful tool, doesn’t it? We’ll go into limitations later, but the first thing you should know is that ChatGPT’s usefullness is highly dependant on how well you prompt it. A lot of paid writing tools give you menus, options and cofigurations for specific tasks. With ChatGPT, you only get a chat window and need to carefully instruct it if you want to achieve the same result as with a paid writing tool.
Let’s look at some examples of how you can prompt ChatGPT to do the work of a paid writing tool:
- Editing: Instead of using Grammarly or ProWritingAid to edit your text, you can use ChatGPT to get more comprehensive and personalized feedback. For example, you could ask ChatGPT “I am very happy today because I got a good grade on my test. How can I make this sentence more expressive?” ChatGPT might respond with something like “You could use more descriptive words and emotions to show how happy you are. For example: I am ecstatic today because I aced my test.” Or, you could enter several sentences and ask for suggestions on the order they are in or other structural suggestions.
- Writing: Instead of using Scrivener or Plottr to write a story, you can use ChatGPT to generate ideas and content for you. For example, if you want to write a fantasy story but you don’t know how to start, you can ask ChatGPT “Please write the first paragraph of a fantasy story”. ChatGPT might respond with something like “The night was dark and stormy as Lila ran through the forest, clutching her precious amulet. She could hear the howls of the wolves behind her, getting closer and closer. She had to reach the castle before they caught her. She had to warn the king about the evil wizard’s plan.” Or, you could ask ChatGPT to create an outline of the story and write in the details. Do not do this for any kind of academic writing, as it would most likely be in breach of the academic dishonesty policy at your learning institution and action could be taken against you.
- Correction: Instead of using Hemingway Editor or Jasper AI to correct your errors or mistakes, you can use ChatGPT to get more detailed and contextual explanations for why they are wrong and how to fix them. For example, if you have a text that says “He don’t like me”, you can ask ChatGPT “What is wrong with this text?”. ChatGPT might respond with something like “This text has a subject-verb agreement error. The subject ‘he’ is singular, but the verb ‘don’t’ is plural. You should use ‘doesn’t’ instead of ‘don’t’ to match the subject. The correct text is: He doesn’t like me.” This not only corrects your English but helps you to learn and improve.
Tips and Tricks
The above examples should help you to get started with ChatGPT or to use it in new ways. Let’s go even further with 7 specific tips on using ChatGPT to replace paid AI-based writing tools:
- Be Clear and Concise: When composing a prompt for ChatGPT, ensure your input is clear and concise. Use straightforward language and specify the type of feedback you require. Whether it’s grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure, being explicit will help ChatGPT focus on the relevant aspects and provide accurate corrections. If you want to copy and paste a large paragraph, you can phrase your first input in such a way that ChatGPT will wait for your next input and then respond to it.
- Provide Sufficient Context: Context is vital for accurate language corrections. Share the intended meaning of the text and any specific guidelines that should be followed. If the text is part of a larger document or a conversation, give ChatGPT enough context to comprehend the tone and style appropriately.
- Specify Target Audience: Different writing styles are suitable for different audiences. Let ChatGPT know who the intended readers are to tailor the corrections accordingly. For instance, the language used for a children’s story will differ from that used in a scientific research paper.
- Highlight Specific Sections: If you have concerns about particular sections of the text, highlight them in your input rather than only providing those sections. This will direct ChatGPT’s attention to those areas while providing important context to help ChatGPT understand the text better.
- Ask for Explanations: To improve your own writing skills, request explanations for the corrections. This can help you understand the grammar rules or stylistic choices that led to specific suggestions. Asking “why” will turn the language model into a valuable learning tool.
- Use Proper Formatting: Formatting matters, especially when it comes to punctuation, capitalization, and paragraph breaks. Be mindful of the structure of your input to ensure ChatGPT provides accurate corrections in the intended context.
- Experiment and Iterate: Don’t hesitate to experiment with different phrasings of your input. Language models can interpret inputs very differently based on how your sentence is constructed. If you are not satisfied with the initial response, try rephrasing the input or clarifying specific aspects. Sometimes, you may also need to start a new chat instance with new phrasing. You can also try asking ChatGPT to help you rephrase your input!
As you can see, ChatGPT is a powerful and versatile tool that can help you with various aspects of English learning, editing and communication. It is also free and relatively easy to use. However, there are some limitations and precautions that you should be aware of when using ChatGPT. Here are some of the most important to bear in mind:
- ChatGPT is not a human tutor or a professional editor. It is an AI chatbot that tries to mimic human language and behavior. It may not always give you the best or the most accurate advice or feedback, and when explaining grammatical errors in English it will sometimes tell you that you have made a different error and provide the wrong explanation. You should always use your own judgment and common sense when following its suggestions or using its content. For important manuscripts like a thesis, it is better to pay for a professional editor to check your work.
- ChatGPT may not be able to handle complex or specialized topics or requests. It may not have enough knowledge or information to answer your questions or generate your content. It may also give irrelevant or off-topic responses. You should always check the sources and references that ChatGPT provides when it answers with facts or information.
- ChatGPT may not be able to understand or communicate in some languages or dialects other than English. It may also have difficulties with technical language, slang, idioms, jokes, sarcasm, or irony. You should always use clear and simple language when chatting with ChatGPT and avoid using ambiguous or confusing expressions.
- ChatGPT may not be able to respect your privacy or preferences. It may ask you personal or sensitive questions or share your information with others. It may also generate inappropriate or offensive content or advertisements. You should always be careful about what you share with ChatGPT and what you use from its output.
- ChatGPT does not have up-to-date data. At the time of writing, ChatGPT has no information after September 2021 and cannot provide information on anything past this date.
- When ChatGPT is wrong, it is always confidently wrong. It can be very difficult to identify mistakes made by ChatGPT because it presents the incorrect information so believably. If you use ChatGPT to write or edit any of your work, ask another human to read through it to check for mistakes you may have missed. If it’s an important manuscript, use a professional editor or proofreader.
These are some of the things that you should keep in mind when using ChatGPT for free English editing, writing, and correction. ChatGPT is a fun and useful tool that can help you improve your English skills and create and improve English writing today without spending a penny. But, it is also a work in progress that has its limitations and risks. Most importantly, you should always use it responsibly and cautiously. Know the risks of using it, avoid violating academic dishonesty policies, and be aware of the inherent limitations. However, as mentioned at the start of this article, you should note that all of the other AI-based writing tools that are available suffer from the same limitations (if not more) and also need to be used just as carefully.
For these reasons, ChatGPT is nearly always a viable alternative to the paid AI writing tools that are available at present.