Dreyer's English

Dreyer's English

An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Book - 2019
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * "An essential (and delightful!)"* guide to writing from Random House's longtime copy chief and one of Twitter's leading language gurus--in the tradition of The Elements of Style

* People (Book of the Week)

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 (What to Read This Week)
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780812995701
Branch Call Number: 808.02 DREYER B
Characteristics: xviii, 291 pages : illustration ; 22 cm


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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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