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Are you feeling "all right" or "alright"? Does "biweekly" mean twice a week or every two weeks? Do you run a gauntlet or a gantlet? Is a pair of twins four ...
Are you feeling "all right" or "alright"? Does "biweekly" mean twice a week or every two weeks? Do you run a gauntlet or a gantlet? Is a pair of twins four people or two?
The English language is always changing, and that means we are left with words and phrases that are only sort of wrong (or worse, have different definitions depending on where you look them up). How do you know which to use? Grammar Girl to the rescue! This handy reference guide contains the full 411 on 101 words that have given you trouble before—but will never again.
Full of clear, straightforward definitions and fun quotations from pop culture icons such as Gregory House and J. K. Rowling, as well as from classical writers such as Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin, this highly-useable guidebook takes the guesswork out of your writing, so you’ll never be at a loss for words again.
Posted July 3, 2012
Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time opened my eyes to more problems with the English language than I ever suspected. And after reading it I hope I don’t make any of the mistakes noted in the book. (If I do, pardon the error in advance.)
One word that Mignon Fogarty pulled apart that has always bothered me is “biweekly”. Do you take the medication twice a week, or every other week? Fogarty clears that up and says to just avoid the word all together. That’s what I tend to do anyways, since I’ve never found the word clear enough to use. The author used Karen Marie Moning’s Faefever and Joss Whedon’s TV show Angel to show examples of how to make statements indicating the right time period.
The book is set up with each word in alphabetical order. A section stating “What’s the Trouble?” along with “What Should You Do?” follows each word and gives you the lowdown on the issues and how to solve them. Each word is then followed by a quote or two using the offending word. These quotes come from shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Psych, and Gossip Girl along with movies and literature. Most of the time the quotes show you what to do, but sometimes they show the error of our ways. (Now I doubt myself. Is it “errors of our ways” or “error of our way”? Singular? Plural? Is it one error and multiple ways, ugh? I’m convinced many of these problematic words come out of the laziness of people to figure out which is really right.)
Some of the words have no clear resolution to the correct use, but the author does give her opinion on what you should use – and suggestions for those that are writers. Some of the 101 words are actually more than one word such as “do’s and don’ts”, “for free”, and “free gift”. “Free gift” is another that bothers me. It’s redundant, don’t use it. The book will help you to become a better writer or just better at speaking the English language. Plus, you can be one of those annoying people like me and correct people when they say something wrong…and now you will have proof to back your story up. Go forth and conquer!
ARC reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
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Posted July 15, 2012
I'm a copy editor who reads Grammar Girl's books regularly and many other language books too. It's important to keep up on the English language, because it's always changing. This book confirmed quite a few things for me, including that yes, the usage of a few words has changed, and yes, I'm going to be a better editor for reading this book and keeping up with the industry.
This book is the perfect size to carry with you, like most of Mignon's books.
A few things that I learned from this book that make it worth reading!
- Alright vs. all right = I need to use "all right" because it's the only spelling that Standard English recognizes.
- Begs the question is a hard phrase to get right!
- Dilemma should be used to describe a choice between two alternatives.
- "Free gift" is still redundant.
- "Gotten" is OK to use.
- This was news to me, but "momentarily" is losing its original meaning.
- I have always use "myriad" correctly.
- A good memory trick is given for remembering when to use "noisome."
- "Okay" is also OK!
- Most often one should choose "use" over "utilize" - my favorite!!
To read more, you'll have to buy the book! I feel so empowered with great knowledge after reading Mignon's books. Some of it can be the most basic, but a refresher is always in order, and you learn something new that you didn't before. I learned a lot, and as I said in the opening, I'm going to be a better editor for it.
Posted July 11, 2012
Even in high school AP English I struggled with the convolutions of the English language. It's a means of expression that seems to be far more intuitive than logical, and modern usage is often frowned upon by the linguistic elite. Between regional dialects and variations between social classes, a person must strive tirelessly to express oneself in a manner that will attract the least amount of criticism. 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master In No Time is a book that makes grammar accessible and far more easy to assimilate than any other book on the subject I've cared to read. I enjoyed that this guide didn't wax loquacious regarding word etiology and used the story of origin to explain why a word or phrase is the way it is rather than as page filler. Though it isn't laugh out loud funny, it evokes enough chuckles and moments of dawning revelation to keep things interesting. Give this as a gift to any student or budding author, or to someone who persists in using the grossly erroneous expression "I could care less."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2012
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