Dreyer's English

Dreyer's English

An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Book - 2019 | First edition
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"Authoritative as it is amusing, this book distills everything Benjamin Dreyer has learned from the hundreds of books he has copyedited, including works by Elizabeth Strout, E. L. Doctorow, and Frank Rich, into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best foot forward in writing prose. Dreyer offers lessons on the ins and outs of punctuation and grammar, including how to navigate the words he calls 'the confusables,' like tricky homophones; the myriad ways to use (and misuse) a comma; and how to recognize--though not necessarily do away with--the passive voice. (Hint: If you can plausibly add 'by zombies' to the end of a sentence, it's passive.) People are sharing their writing more than ever--on blogs, on Twitter--and this book lays out, clearly and comprehensibly, everything writers can do to keep readers focused on the real reason writers write: to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Chock-full of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts on the rules (and nonrules) of the English language, this book will prove 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"--
Publisher: New York, NY :, Random House,, [2019]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780812995701
Branch Call Number: 808.02 DRE
Alternative Title: English


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Jun 08, 2020

I suppose I will have to live with the fact that I am a godless savage because for the most part I eschew the use of the serial comma!
And (thank goodness he does think it is OK to begin a sentence with and) I will also continue to leave two spaces at the end of a sentence. I get his rational but I did learn to type on a typewriter, not a word processor or laptop. The double space is just a part of my touch typing muscle memory. After all, we do still have QWERTY keyboards.
All of this aside, I found the book informative and mildly entertaining. I should have expected that the author of a book titled "Dreyer's English" would be be a bit full of himself.
I did find his use of multiple footnotes on nearly every page annoying. Some funny, yes. But the size of their font made them next to impossible for my eyes to discern while reading and finding them in the text after completing the page was often equally difficult.

Nov 27, 2019

Tried sitting down and reading through from start to finish and couldn't because the book is a collection of rules. Worth thumbing through and picking up details here and there.

May 21, 2019

This book summarizes the education, training, and experience of professional copyeditor. Its function is to advise on style for beautiful written language, just as any style guide is intended for. In reading this, I was entranced by much of it, startled and edified by quite a lot, and disagreed with very little: even when I didn't fully agree, I found myself in a conversation, of sorts, with Dreyer as he rationalized his position with examples, humor, and reason. Sometimes I was swayed, and sometimes I had my own decisions confirmed. In this way, this book behaves as a valuable conversation with an authoritative figure. It is an interactive experience. Now I keep it with my reference materials and consult it often.

Mar 10, 2019

Laughed while learning; a great combination. A must read for lovers of language. Rarely do I buy a book I've previously checked out of the library but I'm racing to my independent book store to buy this one.

Are you a grammar nazi? Do you find pleasure in prose so sharp it causes paper cuts? Do you delight in learning new vocabulary? Then you will enjoy Dreyer's English, An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. I must admit that my unorthodox way of writing caused a bit of heartburn over the years when others insisted it was wrong. Before, I was able to stand on firm by citing the Honors English professor I had. He informed me that while different, it was indeed grammatically correct. But now, I can point to Dreyer's English and say, "yes, yes I can start a sentence with And, or But! And, I am not a godless savage, I will use the series comma!" (Although I do prefer the term Oxford comma, his reasoning for not calling it that is delightful.)

It is clear the Dreyer's is a New Yorker with his sharp, snarky style of writing that makes me both desperate to have him at a dinner party and scared of the outcome. He had me at "godless savages," and kept me through a whole chapter titled "Peeves and Crotches."

For a good laugh, compare with "A World Without 'Whom'." Some particularly good advice on "begs the question," and "cliché." Perhaps a better source of advice in general, though, is "Garner's Modern American Usage."

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