The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

by Roy Peter Clark
The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

by Roy Peter Clark


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Early in the history of English, the words "grammar" and "glamour" meant the same thing: the power to charm. Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools, aims to put the glamour back in grammar with this fun, engaging alternative to stuffy instructionals. In this practical guide, readers will learn everything from the different parts of speech to why effective writers prefer concrete nouns and active verbs.

The Glamour of Grammar gives readers all the tools they need to"live inside the language" — to take advantage of grammar to perfect their use of English, to instill meaning, and to charm through their writing. With this indispensable book, readers will come to see just how glamorous grammar can be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316027908
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/08/2011
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 679,758
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Roy Peter Clark is senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, one of the most prestigious schools for journalists in the world. He has taught writing at every level — from schoolchildren to Pulitzer Prize-winning authors — for more than forty years.

A writer who teaches and a teacher who writes, he has authored or edited nineteen books on writing and journalism, including The Art of X-Ray Reading, How to Write Short, Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, and Help! for Writers. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he is considered a garage-band legend.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Embrace grammar as powerful and purposeful 1

Part 1 Words 7

1 Read dictionaries for fun and learning 9

2 Avoid speed bumps caused by misspellings 14

3 Adopt a favorite letter of the alphabet 18

4 Honor the smallest distinctions even between a and the 21

5 Consult a thesaurus to remind yourself of words you already know 27

6 Take a class on how to cross-dress the parts of speech 31

7 Enjoy, rather than fear, words that sound alike 35

8 Learn seven ways to invent words 40

9 Become your own lexicographer 45

10 Take advantage of the short-word economy of English 49

11 Learn when and how to enrich your prose with foreign words 55

Part 2 Points 61

12 Use the period to determine emphasis and space 63

13 Advocate use of the serial comma 68

14 Use the semicolon as a "swinging gate" 72

15 Embrace the three amigos: colon, dash, and parentheses 77

16 Let your ear help govern the possessive apostrophe 82

17 Take advantage of the versatility of quotation marks 85

18 Use the question mark to generate reader curiosity and narrative energy 89

19 Reclaim the exclamation point 94

20 Master the elliptical art of leaving things out 98

21 Reach into the "upper case" to unleash the power of names 103

22 Vary your use of punctuation to create special effects 108

Part 3 Stamdards 111

23 Learn to lie or lay, as well as the principles behind the distinction 113

24 Avoid the "trap" of subject-verb disagreement 117

25 Render gender equality with a smooth style 121

26 Place modifiers where they belong 128

27 Help the reader learn what is "essential" and "nonessential." 131

28 Avoid case mistakes and "hypergrammar." 135

29 Be certain about the uncertain subjunctive and other "moody" subjects 138

30 Identify all sources of ambiguity and confusion 143

31 Show what is literal and what is figurative 148

Part 4 Meaning 153

32 Join subjects and verbs, or separate them for effect 155

33 Use active and passive verbs in combination and with a purpose 162

34 Befriend the lively verb to be 168

35 Switch tenses, but only for strategic reasons 173

36 Politely ignore the language crotchets of others 179

37 Learn the five forms of well-crafted sentences 183

38 Make sentence fragments work for you and the reader 187

39 Use the complex sentence to connect unequal ideas 193

40 Learn how expert writers break the rules in run-on sentences 197

Part 5 Purpose 203

41 Master the uses of nonstandard English 205

42 Add a pinch of dialect for flavor 209

43 Tame taboo language to suit your purposes 215

44 Unleash your associative imagination 220

45 Play with sounds, natural and literary 226

46 Master the distinction between denotation and connotation 231

47 Measure the distance between concrete and abstract language 238

48 Harness the power of particularity 244

49 Have fun with initials and acronyms, but avoid "capital" offenses 251

50 Master the grammar of new forms of writing 256

Afterword: Live a life of language 263

Appendix A Words I have misspelled 265

Appendix B Words I have confused 271

Appendix C The Glamour of Grammar quick list 277

Acknowledgments 282

Index 285

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