Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

The Writing Slices blog is a year old today. In a year of posts, I haven’t reviewed a single grammar book! It’s time to correct this oversight, so I checked out five books on the topic from the library. The only one I didn’t return right away was GRAMMAR GIRL’S QUICK AND DIRTY TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING. Mignon Fogarty, host of the “Grammar Girl” podcast, makes proper grammar, usage, and punctuation easy.

This book was actually fun to read. I learned things I never knew. I discovered some things I’ve been writing incorrectly. I saw other things that I’ve been writing correctly, but not for the reasons I’d assumed. Fogarty’s lessons were eye-opening, even for someone with a very good grasp of English grammar.

Fogarty sorts out easily confused words like who’s and whose. She teaches proper punctuation, shows when to use upper case letters, and explains all those tricky pronouns. She’s more about usage than grammar rules. In other words, it does you no good to know what subjunctive tense is. You just have to know when to use was and when to use were. It would be easy to get overwhelmed with rules, but Fogarty gives plenty of entertaining examples and mnemonics.

GRAMMAR GIRL’S QUICK AND DIRTY TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING is a very modern book, discussing rules for email and Twitter, how to punctuate URLs, and the proper way to cite websites in news articles or papers. Also, Fogarty is okay with using their as a singular pronoun instead of his or her. It’s acceptable to write “a student should always have a pen in their backpack” because English lacks a gender-neutral pronoun and people are already using “their” anyway.

I don’t agree with everything Fogarty says. For example, she states that internet and web (as in World Wide Web) should be capitalized, while website should not. I insist on using lowercase for all three words. Happily, Fogarty gives leeway for personal style. It’s more important to be consistent. In fact, many rules aren’t absolute. Therefore, a personal or corporate style is a must.

This library book is approaching its due date, and I’m having trouble returning it. There is too much useful information here. I keep flipping through the book, hoping to absorb one more grammar rule or learn one more mnemonic. I will simply have to buy my own copy of GRAMMAR GIRL’S QUICK AND DIRTY TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING. It will be the perfect present for my blog’s first birthday.

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rating: 5 stars

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pie slices: 8 slices craft

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This book is best for: beginning to intermediate writers

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I recommend this book

4 thoughts on “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

  1. I enjoy the Grammar Girl. Truth is, grammar is where my old-fogeyhood truly shows. My final authorities are always Webster and Strunk & White.

    Happy blogiversary!

  2. I find usage examples sink in better for me than straight technical reasons. And if both Jaye and Alex recommend Grammar Girl, she’s got to be worth her weight in gold. Thanks for the review, and for a year’s worth of helpful reviews!

    -aniko

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