Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English.
Woe is I offers an amusing but sensible approach to English grammar for intelligent people who probably have never diagrammed a sentence and never will. (For those interested, a glossary of grammatical terms is provided.) Its chapters include "Therapy for pronoun anxiety," "The possessives and the possessed," "The joy of punctuation," and "How to say what you mean." Its advice includes not saying things like:
"Come to lunch with the boss and I."
"Who forgot their umbrella."
"Before the age of two, a mother's place is in the home."
You will be warned against cliches such as "by hook or by crook," "meaningful dialogue," and "seriously consider." And you will learn to distinguish between "e.g." and "i.e.," "disinterested" and "uninterested," and "discreet" and "discrete." For those who want to write clearly the author suggests that you say what you have to say and stop when you've said it; put descriptions close to what they describe; and don't make yourself the center of the universe.
O'Conner reminds us that the laws of grammar come and go. English today isn't what it was a hundred years ago, and it's not what it will be a hundred years from now. For the present, if you want to know if you can split an infinitive, end a sentence with a preposition, start a sentence with "and" or "but," or use a double negative then this book is for you.
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|Author:||Levinson, Martin H.|
|Publication:||ETC.: A Review of General Semantics|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 1997|
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