Sunday, August 30, 2009

Buy Yourself a Good Grammar Book

The rules of English are tough and especially tougher for a writer. It literally comes down to "this" and "that" and "whom" or "who." What about present tense? Present perfect? Imperfect? What does it mean to say "Bob was a broker" or "Bob has been a broker" or even "Bob had been a broker"? Some people find the rules of grammar easy to understand and use. I don't. If you are like me, I encourage you to find a good grammar usage book. There are a lot of them out there. The one I have found to be most helpful is "The Wordwatcher's Guide to Good Writing and Grammar" by Morton Freeman. It's an older copy, but I still find it useful.

What should you look for in a guide like this?

- Buy the newest edition you can find. Language changes rapidly and you need to stay on top of it.
- Buy one that is easily laid out. Both books I have list the words/phrases in question alphabetically and makes it easy to find what you are looking for.
- Make sure it is easy to understand and provides good examples. I have two books I use. I can't recall the name of the other, but it is very technical and almost written for graduate level English students -- that's not me.

If you are serious about your writing, you do need to find one of these. Go to a book store and cruise the reference section. You should find one there to fit your needs.

If you're a writer, what do you use?


  1. Hey Al - I'll have to check out this book you mention. I use "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" by Lynne Truss and "A Dash of Style" by Noah Lukeman. They're both easy reads and have practical ways to remember rules. I'm with you brother, I am definitely a Grammar Goober and not a Grammar Nazi. Later, Kerry

  2. I loved "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves." Really hooked me on the semi-colon.