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Do You Have A Favorite Grammar Book?

I know, this is probably the least sexy question of all time…or is it? Depends on how you think about grammar. Me? I’m all about it, despite my sloppy sentence construction.

Here are a few grammar books I have loved. If you’re trying to become a better writer, communicator, orator, or you just want to be one of those people who can pedantically correct grammar on the Internet, here are a few items of interest.

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach To Punctuation by Lynne Truss

I started this book for the grammar, I finished it because of how hard it made me laugh. A great read.

The Elements Of Style by Strunk and White

Picked this one up after reading Stephen King’s On Writing. A good investment. Very nuts and bolts, not a ton of fun, but invaluable.

Punctuation by User Design

A charming little illustrated book, self published by the company User Design. They sent me a copy in the mail, it took me way too long to get around to it, but I’m glad I did. It’s funny, it’ll teach you the rules, and it’s short.

The Grammar Pack – The Oatmeal

No comments necessary. Take a look.

Anyone have a recommendation for further reading?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Susan M. August 29, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Lapsing into a Comma — funny, covers the most common pitfalls and easy to use.

  • Aimee August 29, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Today and yesterday I have been searching around the internet for recommendations of books on the subject of grammar and punctuation. So happy I found this – I think the general consensus is Elements of Style, so I’m going to get that.Thanks!

  • Jennifer August 29, 2013, 2:17 pm

    I own the first two and use them quite a bit. I homeschool and The Elements of Style comes in VERY handy!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 29, 2013, 2:25 pm

      Have you read David Foster Wallace’s essay about the OED and the grammar wars? It’s in Consider The Lobster. I think you’d get a kick out of it.

      • Jennifer August 29, 2013, 2:30 pm

        I’ll have to do that!

  • Mark Smith August 30, 2013, 3:29 am

    The Kings English – Kingsley Amis. “A guide to modern usage”, pehaps not so much as it was, but informative and funny. Very dip-into able, just like ESAL.

  • Farin August 30, 2013, 6:49 am

    I enjoy Woe Is I as well.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 30, 2013, 12:58 pm

      Farin, your avatar makes me laugh every time I see it.

  • Leslie August 30, 2013, 8:14 am

    I quite enjoyed Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog
    The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences
    By Kitty Burns Florey

    • Josh Hanagarne August 30, 2013, 12:58 pm

      I haven’t heard of either of those, thank you.

  • Marjorie Turner Hollman August 30, 2013, 9:05 am

    OH, boy grammar. I avoided dealing with it like the plague until I found myself by some rather convoluted life circumstances turning into a writer. The book I”ve turned to again and again to demystify sticky subjects is ‘Woe is I; The Grammarphobes guide the Better English in plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner. Lovely plays on words, extremely clever. As I”ve learned more I see even more the brilliance in her writing. Can also recommend http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-English-Phrasal-Verb-Wheels/dp/1470056135
    Everyday English Phrasal Verb Word Wheels–an entirely different way of looking at idiomatic language–specifically designed for ESL students, but amazing insight into language for native speakers as well.

  • spencer August 30, 2013, 9:33 am

    I have read the first two. And King’s “On Writing.” And the DFW essay. I feel so smart.

    A very good, if nerdy, resource is Bryan Garner’s “Modern American Usage”: http://www.amazon.com/Garners-Modern-American-Usage-Garner/dp/0195382757

    I know what you’re thinking: isn’t Bryan Garner the editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary? Yes, yes he is. Unsurprisingly, he is a genius. Perhaps more surprisingly, he is also hilarious. And the least annoyingly arrogant person I have ever encountered (I’ve seen him live; believe the hype!)

    I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who so clearly loves language the way he does. Except for myself.

    If your nerd quotient isn’t filled to capacity already, you can actually sign up for a free Garner usage tip of the day, which will appear right there in your inbox, every morning, at: http://www.lawprose.org/index.php

    Prepare to be delighted!

  • Daisy August 30, 2013, 10:43 am

    I love Eats, Shoots, and Leaves! I have a couple of easy-to-read guides at school; I’ll look them up for you. It’s amazing how something aimed at middle and high school writers can be a great resource for adults.

  • Evelyne Holingue September 1, 2013, 2:27 pm

    The Elements of Style is my favorite because it is a small book that doesn’t take much space on a shelf. I also like The Grammar Bible by Michael Strumf. Much bigger but full of examples, which help the French native speaker I am.

  • David Hill September 2, 2013, 11:13 am

    I loved ‘Eats shoots and leaves’. I would also recommend the book by the late, lamented Keith Waterhouse, ‘Daily Mirror Style’. I just checked – it may not be in print but he wrote another book about newspaper style: ‘Waterhouse on Newspaper Style’ which is well worth the read… (he was English).

  • Kristine C September 4, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Thank you for including The Oatmeal – I read it about a week or two ago, and laughed so hard!

    • Kristine C September 4, 2013, 12:54 pm

      Oops, I did not clarify which entry of The Oatmeal…I recently finished “What it means when you say literally” – HAHAHA!

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