Have trouble remembering when to say less vs. few? How about stumbling over who vs. whom?
Or maybe you find yourself pausing before saying affect or effect? That vs. which? Toward or towards?
Or what if there are pitfalls that you haven’t learned yet?
I see examples all the time. Alot is not a word. For example is not abbreviated i.e. We don’t make mistakes on accident, but by accident.
Mignon Fogarty reviews some of the most common and troubling grammar, punctuation, usage, and style issues in a most accessible way. She also provides examples and easy mnemonics for remembering the right answers.
Mercifully, this particular book about better writing is not the least bit dry or boring. The whole idea is to make writing well as painless as possible.
She shares some myths, for example (which I usually write out because so many people are confused about e.g. and i.e., plus how much space do they gain us anyway?), it’s okay to say, I’m good when someone asks how you are. The smart-alecky comeback How good are you? just misses the point.
Is this book for you?
If you’d like to recast the list below for parallel construction (or if you’re wondering what I’m talking about), you’ll likely enjoy Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing:
- Pick up a few tips
- Great memory aids
- Finding a mistake you didn’t know you were making
Easy and fun to read, this book is worth having around if you work with words and/or enjoy writing.
Website. The Grammar Girl website is a wonderful resource. English is so complex (and riddled with exceptions) that there’s no shame in checking to see if you have something right.
Podcast. You might also enjoy the podcast, which you can find on iTunes by searching for “Grammar Girl.” Here are some recent topics:
- Between You and Me
- Done Versus Finished
- We Might Could Harvest the Corn
- Words That Aren’t Words
- Is the Semicolon in TL;DR Ironic?
- Words Invented by Shakespeare
Most of her podcasts are less than 20 minutes long (less instead of fewer because there’s an exception for time, money, and distance). Don’t expect listening about writing to be entertaining? Try her; you may be surprised.
Book, website, or podcast, Mignon Fogarty is doing a good thing well.
Article | ‘Grammar Girl’ a Quick and Dirty Success