2021 new arrival Dreyer's English: online An online sale Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style online sale

2021 new arrival Dreyer's English: online An online sale Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style online sale

2021 new arrival Dreyer's English: online An online sale Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style online sale

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A sharp, funny grammar guide they’ll actually want to read, from Random House’s longtime copy chief and one of Twitter’s leading language gurus
 

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY O: The Oprah Magazine Paste Shelf Awareness

“Essential (and delightful!)”—People


We all write, all the time: books, blogs, emails. Lots and lots of emails. And we all want to write better. Benjamin Dreyer is here to help.

As Random House’s copy chief, Dreyer has upheld the standards of the legendary publisher for more than two decades. He is beloved by authors and editors alike—not to mention his followers on social media—for deconstructing the English language with playful erudition. Now he distills everything he has learned from the myriad books he has copyedited and overseen into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best prose foot forward.

As authoritative as it is amusing, Dreyer’s English offers lessons on punctuation, from the underloved semicolon to the enigmatic en dash; the rules and nonrules of grammar, including why it’s OK to begin a sentence with “And” or “But” and to confidently split an infinitive; and why it’s best to avoid the doldrums of the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers, including “very,” “rather,” “of course,” and the dreaded “actually.” Dreyer will let you know whether “alright” is all right (sometimes) and even help you brush up on your spelling—though, as he notes, “The problem with mnemonic devices is that I can never remember them.”

And yes: “Only godless savages eschew the series comma.”

Chockful of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts, this book will prove to be invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and—perhaps best of all—an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.

Praise for Dreyer’s English

“Playful, smart, self-conscious, and personal . . . One encounters wisdom and good sense on nearly every page of Dreyer’s English.” The Wall Street Journal

“Destined to become a classic.” The Millions

“Dreyer can help you . . . with tips on punctuation and spelling. . . . Even better: He’ll entertain you while he’s at it.” Newsday 

Review

“Interwoven with cultural history and lively self-revelation, this bracing manual will up your game even if all you’re writing is emails.” People (Book of the Week)
 
“Call it the hedonic appeal. Dreyer beckons readers by showing that his rules make prose pleasurable. . . . His book is in love with the toothsomeness of language. Its sentences capture writing’s physicality.” —Katy Waldman, The New Yorker
 
“Brimming with wit and revelatory wisdom, this style manual-cum-linguistic jubilee from Random House’s copy chief . . . entertains as it enlightens.” O: The Oprah Magazine

“Random House copy chief and managing editor Benjamin Dreyer is a fixture in the publishing industry and on Twitter for his authoritative yet approachable take on style and grammar. Now he is a Random House author himself. . . . Dreyer’s English [is] a helpful, funny style guide replete with supporting references from literature and popular culture.” New York 

“An utterly delightful book to read, Dreyer’s English will stand among the classics on how to use the English language properly.” —Elizabeth Strout

“A mind-blower—sure to jumpstart any writing project, just by exposing you, the writer, to Dreyer’s astonishing level of sentence-awareness.” —George Saunders

“Farewell, Strunk and White. Benjamin Dreyer’s brilliant, pithy, incandescently intelligent book is to contemporary writing what Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry was to medieval English: a gift that broadens and deepens the art and the science of literature by illustrating that convention should not stand in the way of creativity, so long as that creativity is expressed with clarity and with conviction.” —Jon Meacham

“It is Benjamin Dreyer’s intense love for the English language and his passion for the subject that make the experience of reading Dreyer’s English such a pleasure, almost regardless of the invaluable and practical purpose his book serves in such dark and confusing times for grammar and meaning.” —Ayelet Waldman & Michael Chabon

“If Oscar Wilde had wanted to be helpful as well as brilliant, if E. B. White and Noël Coward had had a wonderful little boy who grew up to cherish and model clarity, the result would be Benjamin Dreyer and his frankly perfect book. Anyone who writes anything should have a copy by their computer, and perhaps another on the nightstand, just for pleasure.” —Amy Bloom

Dreyer’s English is essential to anyone who cares about language. It’s as smart and funny as Dreyer is himself. He makes you smile and makes you smarter at the same time.” —Lyle Lovett

“Like Dreyer himself, this book reassures as it teaches. The reader never feels spoken down to, as in so many other style guides, but is instead lifted up, inspired to communicate with more clarity and zing. I’ll be buying this for friends.” —Brian Koppelman, co-creator and showrunner of Billions

“This work is that rare writing handbook that writers might actually want to read straight through, rather than simply consult.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

Benjamin Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House. He began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. In 1993, he became a production editor at Random House, overseeing books by writers including Michael Chabon, Edmund Morris, Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Pollan, Peter Straub, and Calvin Trillin. He has copyedited books by authors including E. L. Doctorow, David Ebershoff, Frank Rich, and Elizabeth Strout, as well as Let Me Tell You, a volume of previously uncollected work by Shirley Jackson. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in New York City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION: By Way of Introduction xi

part i The Stuff in the Front 1

chapter 1 The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Prose) 3
chapter 2 Rules and Nonrules 6
chapter 3 67 Assorted Things to Do (and Not to Do) with Punctuation 20
chapter 4 1, 2, 3, Go: The Treatment of Numbers 67
chapter 5 Foreign Affairs 74
chapter 6 A Little Grammar Is a Dangerous Thing 84
chapter 7 The Realities of Fiction 102

part ii The Stuff in the Back 127

chapter 8 Notes on, Amid a List of, Frequently and/or Easily Misspelled Words 129
chapter 9 Peeves and Crotchets 147
chapter 10 The Confusables 166
chapter 11 Notes on Proper Nouns 210 x
chapter 12 The Trimmables 242
chapter 13 The Miscellany 252

OUTRO: By Way of Conclusion 267
THINGS I LIKE 269
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 271
INDEX 279



Chapter 1

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Prose)

Here’s your first challenge:

Go a week without writing

• very

• rather

• really

• quite

• in fact

And you can toss in—or, that is, toss out—“just” (not in the sense of “righteous” but in the sense of “merely”) and “so” (in the “extremely” sense, though as conjunctions go it’s pretty disposable too).

Oh yes: “pretty.” As in “pretty tedious.” Or “pretty pedantic.” Go ahead and kill that particular darling.

And “of course.” That’s right out. And “surely.” And “that said.”

And “actually”? Feel free to go the rest of your life without another “actually.”

If you can last a week without writing any of what I’ve come to think of as the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers—I wouldn’t ask you to go a week without saying them; that would render most people, especially British people, mute—you will at the end of that week be a considerably better writer than you were at the beginning.

Clarification No. 1

Well, OK, go ahead and write them—I don’t want you tripping over your own pencil every time you compose a sentence—but, having written them, go back and dispose of them. Every single one. No, don’t leave that last one intact just because it looks cute and helpless. And if you feel that what’s left is somehow missing something, figure out a better, stronger, more effective way to make your point.

Clarification No. 2

Before you get all overwrought and but-but-but, I’m not saying never use them—go count the “very”s in this book. I’m merely asking you to skip them for a week. A single measly little week. Now, as a show of good faith, and to demonstrate that even the most self-indulgent of us can and should every now and then summon up a little fortitude, I hereby pledge that this is the last time you’ll see the word “actually” in this book.

For your own part, if you can abstain from these twelve terms for a week, and if you read not a single additional word of this book—if you don’t so much as peek at the next page—I’ll be content.

Well, no.

But it sounded good.

Chapter 2

Rules and Nonrules

I have nothing against rules. They’re indispensable when playing Monopoly or gin rummy, and their observance can go a long way toward improving a ride on the subway. The rule of law? Big fan.

The English language, though, is not so easily ruled and regulated. It developed without codification, sucking up new constructions and vocabulary every time some foreigner set foot on the British Isles—to say nothing of the mischief we Americans have wreaked on it these last few centuries—and continues to evolve anarchically. It has, to my great dismay, no enforceable laws, much less someone to enforce the laws it doesn’t have.

Certain prose rules are essentially inarguable—that a sentence’s subject and its verb should agree in number, for instance. Or that in a “not only x but y” construction, the x and the y must be parallel elements. (More on this in Chapter 6: A Little Grammar Is a Dangerous Thing.) Why? I suppose because they’re firmly entrenched, because no one cares to argue with them, and because they aid us in using our words to their preeminent purpose: to communicate clearly with our readers. Let’s call these reasons the Four C’s, shall we? Convention. Consensus. Clarity. Comprehension.

Also simply because, I swear to you, a well-constructed sentence sounds better. Literally sounds better. One of the best ways to determine whether your prose is well-constructed is to read it aloud. A sentence that can’t be readily voiced is a sentence that likely needs to be rewritten.

A good sentence, I find myself saying frequently, is one that the reader can follow from beginning to end, no matter how long it is, without having to double back in confusion because the writer misused or omitted a key piece of punctuation, chose a vague or misleading pronoun, or in some other way engaged in inadvertent misdirection. (If you want to puzzle your reader, that’s your own business.)

As much as I like a good rule, I’m an enthusiastic subscriber to the notion of “rules are meant to be broken”—once you’ve learned them, I hasten to add.

But let’s, right now, attend to a few of what I think of as the Great Nonrules of the English Language. You’ve encountered all of these; likely you were taught them in school. I’d like you to free yourself of them. They’re not helping you; all they’re doing is clogging your brain and inciting you to look self-consciously over your own shoulder as you write, which is as psychically painful as it is physically impossible. And once you’ve done that, once you’ve gotten rid of them, hopefully you can put your attention on vastly more important things.

Why are they nonrules? So far as I’m concerned, because they’re largely unhelpful, pointlessly constricting, feckless, and useless. Also because they’re generally of dubious origin: devised out of thin air, then passed on till they’ve gained respectable solidity and, ultimately, have ossified. Language experts far more expert than I have, over the years, done their best to debunk them, yet these made-up strictures refuse to go away and have proven more durable than Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Put together. Part of the problem, I must add, is that some of them were made up by ostensible and presumably well-meaning language experts in the first place, so getting rid of them can be a bit like trying to get a dog to stop chasing its own tail.

I’ll dispatch these reasonably succinctly, with the hope that you’ll trust that I’ve done my homework and will be happy to see them go. I’m mindful of Gertrude Stein’s characterization of Ezra Pound as “a village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not,” and no one wants to be that guy. Also, if you persist in insisting that these nonrules are real and valid and to be hewed to, all the expert citations in the world won’t, I know through experience, change your mind one tiny little bit.

An admission: Quite a lot of what I do as a copy editor is to help writers avoid being carped at, fairly or—and this is the part that hurts—unfairly, by People Who Think They Know Better and Write Aggrieved Emails to Publishing Houses. Thus I tend to be a bit conservative about flouting rules that may be a bit dubious in their origin but, observed, ain’t hurting nobody. And though the nonrules below are particularly arrant nonsense, I warn you that, in breaking them, you’ll have a certain percentage of the reading and online-commenting populace up your fundament to tell you you’re subliterate. Go ahead and break them anyway. It’s fun, and I’ll back you up.

The Big Three

1. Never Begin a Sentence with “And” or “But.”

No, do begin a sentence with “And” or “But,” if it strikes your fancy to do so. Great writers do it all the time. As do even not necessarily great writers, like the person who has, so far in this book, done it a few times and intends to do it a lot more.

But soft, as they used to say, here comes a caveat:

An “And” or a “But” (or a “For” or an “Or” or a “However” or a “Because,” to cite four other sentence starters one is often warned against) is not always the strongest beginning for a sentence, and making a relentless habit of using any of them palls quickly. You may find that you don’t need that “And” at all. You may find that your “And” or “But” sentence might easily attach to its predecessor sentence with either a comma or a semicolon. Take a good look, and give it a good think.

Let’s test an example or two.

Francie, of course, became an outsider shunned by all because of her stench. But she had become accustomed to being lonely.

Francie, of course, became an outsider shunned by all because of her stench, but she had become accustomed to being lonely.

Which do you think Betty Smith, the author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, chose? The former, as it happens. Had I been Smith’s copy editor, I might well have suggested the second, to make one coherent, connected thought out of two unnecessarily separated ones. Perhaps she’d have agreed, or perhaps she’d have preferred the text as she’d written it, hearing it in her head as a solemn knell. Authors do often prefer their text the way they’ve written it.

Here’s another, in two flavors:

In the hospital he should be safe, for Major Callendar would protect him, but the Major had not come, and now things were worse than ever.

In the hospital he should be safe, for Major Callendar would protect him. But the Major had not come, and now things were worse than ever.

This is E. M. Forster, in A Passage to India, and I suspect you’ll not be surprised to learn that version 2 is his. For one thing, version 1’s a bit long. More important, version 2, with that definitive period, more effectively conveys, I’d say, the sense of dashed expectations, the reversal of fortune.

These are the choices that writers make, and that copy editors observe, and this is how you build a book.

One thing to add: Writers who are not so adept at linking their sentences habitually toss in a “But” or a “However” to create the illusion that a second thought contradicts a first thought when it doesn’t do any such thing. It doesn’t work, and I’m on to you.

2. Never Split an Infinitive.

To cite the most famous split infinitive of our era—and everyone cites this bit from the original Star Trek TV series, so zero points to me for originality—“To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

There’s much more—much more—one could say on the subject, but I don’t want to write about the nineteenth-century textual critic Henry Alford any more than you want to read about the nineteenth-century textual critic Henry Alford, so let’s leave it at this: A split infinitive, as we generally understand the term, is a “to [verb]” construction with an adverb stuck in the middle of it. In the Star Trek example, then, an unsplit infinitive version would be “Boldly to go where no man has gone before” or “To go boldly where no man has gone before.” If either of those sounds better to you, be my guest. To me they sound as if they were translated from the Vulcan.

Otherwise, let’s skip right to Raymond Chandler. Again, as with the Star Trek phrase, everyone loves to cite Chandler on this subject, but it’s for a God damn [sic] good reason. Chandler sent this note to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly in response to the copyediting of an article he’d written:

By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.

Over and out.

3. Never End a Sentence with a Preposition

This is the rule that invariably (and wearily) leads to a rehhash of the celebrated remark by Winston Churchill that Winston Churchill, in reality, neither said nor wrote:

“This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

Let me say this about this: Ending a sentence with a preposition (as, at, by, for, from, of, etc.) isn’t always such a hot idea, mostly because a sentence should, when it can, aim for a powerful finale and not simply dribble off like an old man’s unhappy micturition. A sentence that meanders its way to a prepositional finish is often, I find, weaker than it ought to or could be.

What did you do that for?

is passable, but

Why did you do that?

has some snap to it.

But to tie a sentence into a strangling knot to avoid a prepositional conclusion is unhelpful and unnatural, and it’s something no good writer should attempt and no eager reader should have to contend with.

If you follow me.

The Celebrated Ending-a-Sentence-with-a-Preposition Story

Two women are seated side by side at a posh dinner party, one a matron of the sort played in the old Marx Brothers movies by Margaret Dumont, except frostier, the other an easygoing southern gal, let’s say, for the sake of the visuals, wearing a very pink and very ruffled evening gown.

Southern Gal, amiably, to Frosty Matron: So where y’all from?

Frosty Matron, no doubt giving Southern Gal a once-over through a lorgnette: I’m from a place where people don’t end their sentences with prepositions.

Southern Gal, sweetly, after a moment’s consideration: OK. So where y’all from, bitch?

The Lesser Seven

I’m sure there are many more secondary nonrules than these seven, but these are the ones I’m most often asked about (or challenged on), so:

1. Contractions Aren’t Allowed in Formal Writing.

This may be a fine rule to observe if you want to sound as if you learned English on your native Mars, but there’s not a goshdarn thing wrong with “don’t,” “can’t,” “wouldn’t,” and all the rest of them that people naturally use, and without them many a piece of writing would turn out stilted and wooden. The likes of “I’d’ve” and “should’ve” are perhaps a bit too loosey-goosey outside casual prose, but generally speaking: Contractions are why God invented the apostrophe, so make good use of both.

Speaking of “should’ve”:

The Flannery O’Connor Flowchart

“should of”



Are you Flannery O’Connor?

↓↓

YesNo

↓↓

“should have”

The correct construction is “should have” (also “could have,” “would have,” etc.). If you are not Flannery O’Connor, or Zora Neale Hurston, or William Faulkner, and you wish to convey the particular sound of a particular character’s speech—and I warn you up front, more on it later, about the dangers of phonetic dialogue—please avail yourself of “should’ve,” “could’ve,” “would’ve,” and so forth. They sound precisely the same, no one will yell at you, and we’ll all be a lot happier.

2. The Passive Voice Is to Be Avoided.

A sentence written in the passive voice is one whose subject would, in a sentence constructed in the active voice, be its object. That is:

Active Voice: The clown terrified the children.

Passive Voice: The children were terrified by the clown.

In a sentence written in the passive voice, the thing that is acted upon is frontloaded, and the thing doing the acting comes at the end. In either case, we can easily agree that clowns are terrifying.

Often, in a sentence constructed in the passive voice, the actor is omitted entirely. Sometimes this is done in an attempt to call attention to a problem without laying blame (“The refrigerator door was left open”) and sometimes, in weasel-like fashion, to avoid taking responsibility: “Mistakes were made,” for instance, which, uttered on various occasions by various Bushes, may well be the motto of that political dynasty.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

cyrus
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Amusing, sometimes helpful, but overwrought
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2019
For those who do editing, this book offers useful guidance, covering topics in a clever, snarky way. I finally know when to capitalize (or not capitalize) an entry after a colon: Use a capital if the entry is a complete sentence; otherwise, not (e.g., lists). And curious... See more
For those who do editing, this book offers useful guidance, covering topics in a clever, snarky way. I finally know when to capitalize (or not capitalize) an entry after a colon: Use a capital if the entry is a complete sentence; otherwise, not (e.g., lists). And curious items on the use of B.C. and A.D.; or when or when not to write out numbers.

Oddly, the text is often clunky or irritating because the author too often tries to be amusing. I''m on chapter 7 and have already found some copy-editing errors (odd, since the author claims to be so attentive, and his list of thanks at the end of the book goes on for 8 pages--with this many interested parties, one would think someone would have spotted the blunders). The most annoying feature of the book relates to the footnotes: First, there are many too many and their font size is much too small; second, many of the footnotes are smart aleck and unnecessary; third, the symbols for the footnotes are tiny, tiny asterisks, crossbars, and double crossbars that are difficult to see as one is reading, with the result that, getting to the bottom of a page, one realizes there are yet more notes not read because the reader hasn''t seen the minuscule symbol to which the note refers. Highly annoying and out of sync with the author''s emphasis on verbal clarity and visual appropriateness.

Just read chapter 7, "The Realities of Fiction," and am becoming irritated: If we trust what''s said here, most writers are oblivious and dumb. Odd that a copy editor is making such claims. One begins to realize why most copy editors never make it as writers. If you want a better recent book on writing and editing, I recommend Mary Norris''s BETWEEN YOU AND ME (Norton, 2015)--clearer, more graceful, and more enticing.
412 people found this helpful
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science reader
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
the darn footnotes
Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2019
Others have noted that this book is useful and entertaining. So it is. I might have given it five stars if I owned it in paper, but I don''t. I have the Kindle version, in which the footnotes are maddening. You can''t easily get to them one by one and collectively they just... See more
Others have noted that this book is useful and entertaining. So it is. I might have given it five stars if I owned it in paper, but I don''t. I have the Kindle version, in which the footnotes are maddening. You can''t easily get to them one by one and collectively they just read like extensions of each section''s text. Their content should have been incorporated into the chapters. I don''t see a reason for single footnote in the whole frustrating thing. What were they thinking? Dunno.
172 people found this helpful
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Seventh Degree
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you can tolerate Dreyers leftist insults
Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2019
Worth a read perhaps so long as you have already read Simple and Direct. He uses disparaging comments regarding the Bushes, gets himself into the “mankind” controversy of the Lunar landing astronauts...uses insulting phrases re the Trump family...really childish. I guess he... See more
Worth a read perhaps so long as you have already read Simple and Direct. He uses disparaging comments regarding the Bushes, gets himself into the “mankind” controversy of the Lunar landing astronauts...uses insulting phrases re the Trump family...really childish. I guess he figures only leftists need writing advice...
163 people found this helpful
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Shortfellow
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The author hates Trump. How is it possible to know that in a book about English writing?
Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2019
Apparently Trump hatred is such a high calling that it takes priority over things such as professionalism and intellect. How is it possible that in the first 50 pages of this book the author found a way to tell me that he hates Trump at least 3 times? It got so... See more
Apparently Trump hatred is such a high calling that it takes priority over things such as professionalism and intellect. How is it possible that in the first 50 pages of this book the author found a way to tell me that he hates Trump at least 3 times?

It got so tiresome that I stopped reading it. Due to my laziness the Amazon return window has expired so I''m out 12 bucks.
115 people found this helpful
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DeAnna Burghart
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Style Guide with a Modern Sensibility (emphasis on sense)
Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2019
You''re a writer—meaning, someone who writes, regardless of whether you sell it. You want to write well, but you don''t want to memorize a massive style guide, and you don’t need a scold. You just need someone to help you figure out if alright is all right, if your ideas can... See more
You''re a writer—meaning, someone who writes, regardless of whether you sell it. You want to write well, but you don''t want to memorize a massive style guide, and you don’t need a scold. You just need someone to help you figure out if alright is all right, if your ideas can be born (or borne), and how, in the name of mercy, to use the verbs lay and lie.

Enter Dreyer''s English.

Benjamin Dreyer is delightfully witty, but what you really care about is his deep well of experience as the copy chief for Random House. He did not stint in sharing either in this accessible, practical style guide.

He begins with a collection of useful writing advice on clarity (including five words—well, six really—you can probably do without), rules and hobgoblins (why it’s perfectly fine to start a sentence with “And,” and why maybe you shouldn’t), punctuation (including a lovely—yes, lovely—discussion of semicolons on page 43), numbers (“if a style choice follows the rules but results in something that looks awful or makes no sense on the page, rethink it”), and grammar (including the comforting reassurance that he still consults _Words into Type_, too). This alone is worth the price of admission.

But then he goes on to share sections of his personal style sheet, including confusables, frequently misspelled words, and so on. Chapter 11 (“Notes on Proper Nouns”) is particularly charming, providing helpful and occasionally humorous notes on why some of the entries are included. It’s both an incredibly useful style sheet and a brilliant model for assembling one. Fellow editors, take note.

Through it all, he is not so much chiding you as confiding in you—a supportive writing partner who wants you to do well, and is willing to nudge you a bit to encourage it. He isn’t interested in transforming your writing; he wants to help you elevate it.

Dreyer’s English is a wonderful antidote to the rigid stuffiness of many twentieth-century style guides. It doesn’t so much replace them as subsume them—reinforcing the rules that matter, and giving you permission to ignore those that don’t. I’ve only had it for a week, and it’s already festooned with sticky notes. It may not be the last or only guide you’ll ever need, but it will definitely be one of the first and most useful you reach for.
98 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Dreyer is pompous and belittling.
Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2019
I bought this book to gain knowledge and be enlightened with some interesting antecdotes about grammar and the ways of the English language in general. I found Dreyer used this book to platform his political leaning, not his knowledge of grammar.
96 people found this helpful
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Frank
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pass on this one
Reviewed in the United States on April 5, 2019
What seemed to be a handy, desk reference stylebook is instead a droning story about the author''s opinions of prose, grammar, and style (and some cheap political shots). The author, a copy editor at Ransom House, was the reason for purchasing this book but I was very... See more
What seemed to be a handy, desk reference stylebook is instead a droning story about the author''s opinions of prose, grammar, and style (and some cheap political shots). The author, a copy editor at Ransom House, was the reason for purchasing this book but I was very disappointed. I recommend passing and finding another book.
63 people found this helpful
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Joe Gaspard
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Come for the text, but stay for the footnotes *
Reviewed in the United States on February 4, 2019
This is a witty and informative guide to copy editing. I might have thought that a copy editor would be hidebound, with a guide that tells you what is always right and what is always wrong. Dreyer is more open to what others might consider "wrong" (such as... See more
This is a witty and informative guide to copy editing.

I might have thought that a copy editor would be hidebound, with a guide that tells you what is always right and what is always wrong. Dreyer is more open to what others might consider "wrong" (such as "liaise" as a verb), though he can still be very much peeved by "impact" used instead of "affect".

Grammar, punctuation, formatting, and word choice (did I mention that he''s also a huge fan of the series comma?) are all covered in an amusing style. I''ll end with a quote from his "Peeves and Crotchets" chapter:

INCENTIVIZE - The only thing worse than the ungodly "incentivize" is its satanic little sibling, "incent".

* Don''t skip the footnotes - They are a hoot!
48 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Wendy E.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Love words? You’ll love this book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 2, 2019
This is delicious. What a feat. Concise and witty. Readable and informative. I love the jacket too... it has a texture. Love the extras... the Outro (answered a question I had about ever feeling done) and the Acknowledgments. Got it this afternoon in the UK and can’t put it...See more
This is delicious. What a feat. Concise and witty. Readable and informative. I love the jacket too... it has a texture. Love the extras... the Outro (answered a question I had about ever feeling done) and the Acknowledgments. Got it this afternoon in the UK and can’t put it down. Love that I know some and don’t know lots... and lots.
12 people found this helpful
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Isabel Rogers
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Utterly correct and utterly delightful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 7, 2019
You want this book. Come on, you''re already reading the reviews. Not only will it make you a better writer (often via an anecdote that will leave you gasping with laughter), but you will appreciate the wit and verve of the process. Never has learning been such a delight....See more
You want this book. Come on, you''re already reading the reviews. Not only will it make you a better writer (often via an anecdote that will leave you gasping with laughter), but you will appreciate the wit and verve of the process. Never has learning been such a delight. There is joy and erudition here, in equal measure.
12 people found this helpful
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Ms. E. A. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Only utterly correct if you agree, of course!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 8, 2021
I loved this book. Found it via a review, and ordered it straight away. I am an amateur linguist, without academic pretensions, and I was informed and entertained both by the interesting content and opinions, but also the quick witted footnotes and sense of humour. Anyone...See more
I loved this book. Found it via a review, and ordered it straight away. I am an amateur linguist, without academic pretensions, and I was informed and entertained both by the interesting content and opinions, but also the quick witted footnotes and sense of humour. Anyone interested in their own literary style would find it valuable, whether it confirms or challenges existing opinions.
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ThomasJoy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Charming and Clever
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 11, 2019
A brilliant read, written in such an accessible and endearing voice. Dreyer has taken a subject which could be so easily laced with snobbishness and made it feel fresh and new.
5 people found this helpful
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Fisherman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An amusing guide to English - from an American viewpoint
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 24, 2019
I greatly enjoyed this but Dreyer sometimes slips up ( which makes more amusing I think). He says "Brits" however they are, say "Different to". No we don''t: we say "Different from". UGH!
One person found this helpful
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Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style




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