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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate reference for good writers!
I took Janis' class at Golden Gate University and own a copy of this book in its pre-published form. I went into the class not expecting much as I consider myself a pretty good writer. However, this book hit on all the little niggling points that get you. Who or whom? Who's or whose? Affect or effect? Little questions like that are made perfectly clear without all...
Published on August 14, 2008 by D. Browdy

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great for quick grammar lessons
Well honestly the only reason I bought this book was because I had to for my English class, but I think it is a really helpful guide for writing. The book breaks everything down and provides lots of examples of what to do and what not to do, so its simple to understand. Unless you need help writing or you love to read books on grammar then I wouldn't recommend it, I tried...
Published on December 6, 2009 by B.Singh


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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate reference for good writers!, August 14, 2008
By 
D. Browdy (Foster City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
I took Janis' class at Golden Gate University and own a copy of this book in its pre-published form. I went into the class not expecting much as I consider myself a pretty good writer. However, this book hit on all the little niggling points that get you. Who or whom? Who's or whose? Affect or effect? Little questions like that are made perfectly clear without all the tediousness you get in traditional reference books. Everything is written with a sense of humor so it's readable too.

If this book can help good writers, I think it should be a great help for average or worse writers too. Good stuff.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you find some details of English confusing?, September 16, 2008
This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
If you care even a tiny bit about communicating with others of your species, or at least impressing them, GET THIS BOOK! Clean, Well-lighted Sentences is an easy-to-use look-up source that takes only a few seconds per error to use. In fact, I just used it to move "only" to the right of "takes," where it belongs. Look up your mistakes (the index is fantastic), read the lovely, funny explanations, make the corrections - and you're good to go without feeling like an idiot. I can't recommend the book highly enough - and because of its delightful tone, it actually makes a good Christmas or birthday gift.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good and an easy read, October 30, 2008
By 
John Gary (San Jose, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
This is a nice book, pleasure reading and learning something that I can use on almost a daily basis. I haven't been in an English class for A LONG TIME but I need to write for work every day. This book has truly helped me to write more clearly and stop making some of the common mistakes a lot of us make and don't even realize we're making. I'm glad I bought it, it has become my desk reference also.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harmonious Use of Words, January 1, 2009
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This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
I didn't think I would find a grammar and punctuation book too interesting, but I was surprised and pleased to find Janis Bell's book, Clean Well-Lighted Sentences, to be very much so and intriguing too, as well as humorous a long the way. Her confidence on page xiv that she has "seen" my (and your) sentences and "knows where" my (and your) "gaffes live" is well founded. She is the true reader over our shoulders. Some things that I have debated and gone back and forth on for years, she has clarified very simply -- such as when there are two nouns (e.g., people) that own something jointly, "make only the second noun possessive."

Janis Bell's advice is flexible, where, in my opinion, it is appropriate, such as whether to add apostrophe s or just the apostrophe sign to form the possessive of a name ending in "s" (Thomas's or Thomas'). But she is firm where I believe it is important to stand our ground. She has such firmness even where I have just about given up on the usage, such as in her discussion on page 44 of the use of "lend," as follows: "When you allow someone to borrow something, you lend it (not loan it; loan is a noun that refers to what you lent)."

Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences is loosely dense, with lots of rules but with clear explanations for them and room to think about and apply them. There is much in this book that I might have thought about with a foreign language but never with English, such as: "The only time you have to think about singular and plural verb forms is when you're using present tense...." It is new and refreshing to have English explained in these ways, followed by clear examples.

As Janis Bell says, usage is "not always easy to diagnose." An intriguing example is her discussion of the use of "have or has" as present perfect tense versus the use of "had" as past perfect tense. I have used these words all my life but never thought about the choice I was making. I now know that sometimes I get it right based on habit and sound, but in my ignorance I am erratic and careless (but lacking in the proverbial bliss).

I didn't know if people would enjoy receiving a grammar book. But Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences has been popular with those, in all walks of life, to whom I have given it. My daughter Lisa is getting a PhD in Literature at UC San Diego, enjoys teaching English Writing to first and second year college students, and writes poetry and novels. She said she enjoyed this book and learned things from it she was never taught, which will help her in her own teaching. My cousin Mark, who has been a journalist in The U.S. and Lebanon and both a business and government executive in California and Vermont, found Janis Bell's book to be "the best book on the subject that has ever come my way." My brother, Tony, who retired as a letter carrier from the Post Office and lives and reads a lot in Nevada, loved the book, especially the "humor in the quizzes."

I have found the book very helpful in my corporate law practice in Dallas, where I am always looking for ways to make my language more consistently clear, logical, and precise. The book also has helped me in my volunteer work at the library of the new Dallas homeless assistance center, The Bridge. This book is the most taken out of any of the hundreds of books we have at the library, and I will need to provide more copies. Those who are looking for work and hoping for a better year in 2009 need what this book has to offer them, including help for letter and resume writing and help for keeping their minds active and sharp.

I have found that there are many in business and other parts of society who write all the time and yet don't know how to write well. For a lot of us, email seems to have made writing worse. However, I think ultimately email will increase not only the amount of writing but the need and demand for its improved quality in order to allow us to read and understand our mail and function in society. This change is part of the world becoming increasingly complex and more than ever in need of open and clear communication among all people. Language, like other forms of art, can be an equalizing and unifying force. Janis Bell states on page 28: "To ensure both agreement and logic in all your sentences, think of your words as musical notes. They may be clear and beautiful on their own, but are they in harmony with the others? Keep your ears open."

Those in all walks of life have ears. If we keep them open and listen to what we say to each other, including what we say in writing, we may attain harmony that has been escaping us. This change will, however, require that people think about writing. And to accomplish that, we need grammar and punctuation explained clearly, and we need to enjoy the subject. Janis Bell has made a wonderful contribution to meeting these needs.

For all these reasons, I recommend you buy Clean Well-Lighted Sentences for yourself and those you care about.

Jeff Thomas
1803 S. Ervay St.
Dallas, TX 75215
214-533-0114

Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offers thoroughly 'user friendly' information on how punctuation marks work to make the written word truly effective, January 12, 2009
This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
They used to teach grammar in elementary school. Judging by so much of what crosses a book reviewer's desk these days it's clear that there's a lot of defective instruction in the basics of English grammar going on in the school systems of today. That's why such remedial publications as Janis Bell's "Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide To Avoiding The Most Common Errors In Grammar And Punctuation" is so timely and so necessary. "Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences" offers thoroughly 'user friendly' information on how punctuation marks work to make the written word truly effective, replete with illustrative examples. Of special note is that at the conclusion of each chapter, quizzes followed by their answers are provided to insure that the material covered has been understood. Written in a decidedly non-professorial and thoroughly conversational style, "Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences" is especially commended to the attention of authors who are not otherwise well schooled or grounded in the grammatical and punctuation norms of written English.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, December 28, 2008
By 
Mark "mark099" (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
This is a great book for getting answers to all the grammar and usage questions that arise in ordinary writing. (If you think no such questions come up in your own writing, you're almost certainly wrong, and this book will set you straight!) Ms. Bell writes with a gentle flair, using entertaining examples and light humor, so the book is never boring. If, like most people, you can't just sit down with a grammar guide and read it like a novel, you might simply resolve to read a few pages every day. No matter how you take it in, this book will make your writing more pleasant to read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clean Well-Lighted Sentences, October 18, 2008
This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
I wish that I had had this book when I was still in the workforce. It makes writing and editing easy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences won't waste your time, November 8, 2010
Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences won't waste your time. The author has geared the entire book towards native speakers, so you won't have to wade through grammar and punctuation you already know. The hilarious sample sentences and kick-butt quizzes at the end of every section really drive home the point. If you ever have the good fortune to take Janis Bell's superb English 120 class at Golden Gate University, you'll develop an even greater appreciation for her darling book and her exceptional teaching skills. She knows absolutely everything about writing and how to teach it effectively. It is this knowledge and experience that informs her slim little volume and makes it extremely powerful for any student.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book!, October 9, 2008
By 
JP (Shoshone, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation (Hardcover)
I'm no longer dependent on others to correct my punctuation. In fact, I'm ordering another copy right now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-long Guide, November 8, 2010
This book is unlike any other book on grammar and punctuation. This tiny book is so excellent because it is concise and targets mistakes that native speakers always make. I can pick it up and check something I'm unsure of and find what I need in less than a minute. I'm not an English major and I don't have a passion for grammar. I just want to get things right and maintain professionalism when writing to important people - this book gets it done.
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Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation
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